Syracuse will receive another stern test as it continues its march towards a likely Big East basketball title when the Orange visits the UConn Huskies tonight. Tip-off is set for 9:00 PM ET at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut.
Sportsbooks opened the NCAA Basketball odds boards with the the Orange favored by 3.5, but that line has already extended to -4.5 and even -5 at some NCAA Basketball betting shops. The total currently sits at 131.5, slightly higher that the 130 listed at opening.
Lets break down this matchup to decide which NCAA Basketball picks are worth taking to the sportsbooks.
The UConn Huskies (17-10 SU, 8-14-1 ATS) are coming off a 73-70 overtime victory over Villanova. Jeremy
Lamb scored a career-high 32 points marking the second time this year he’s
topped the 30-point plateau. Lamb has also scored at least 20 points on eight
occasions this year.
Shabazz Napier, whose 30-foot, 3-pointer at the buzzer beat the
Wildcats on Monday, is averaging 12.7 points and 5.8 assists per game. The
Huskies have also gotten key contributions from a pair of talented freshman in
Ryan Boatright (10.2 ppg) and four-time Big East Rookie of the Week, Andre
Drummond (9.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game).
The Syracuse Orange (28-1 SU, 16-12 ATS) had to work harder than usual for their last victory. The Orange rallied
from a 13-point deficit to beat South Florida 56-48, but failed to cover as a
-14 point favorite. It’s tough to say that a team with 28 wins is
‘struggling’, but that’s been the case lately for Syracuse. In their past three
outings, Jim Boeheim’s team has produced just 60.6 points per game and is
shooting 39 percent. Those pale in comparison to their season average of 76.1
ppg and 46.2 percent shooting.
In their first meeting, Connecticut faded down the stretch in an
85-67 loss to Syracuse. The Orange outscored the Huskies 22-6 over the final
six-plus minutes to escape with the win and cover. Jardine had 21 for the
winners while Dion Waiters contributed 18 points and C.J. Fair had a
double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. UConn was led by Lamb who tallied
18 and Boatright who chipped in with 14 points, five assists and five rebounds.
While Syracuse is already assured of a spot in the NCAA tournament,
and a likely No. 1 seed, the Huskies still have some work to do. If UConn can
win tonight, it’s likely that the defending national champions will be at the
‘Dance’ as well. On the flip side, the Orange can clinch the Big East
regular-season title outright with a ninth straight victory.
Rougher than the rest
Give them credit, as UConn is playing the toughest schedule in the
country, according to The RPI Report. The Huskies’ strength of schedule is
ranked No. 1 among all 344 Division I teams.
UConn, ranked No. 24 in the RPI ratings (as of Feb. 23), has six
victories against teams ranked in the top 50 in the RPI. With tonight’s game
against Syracuse, currently ranked No. 1 on the RPI list, the Huskies’ strength
of schedule does not figure to drop very far for the remainder of the regular
The Huskies Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun will miss today’s game
and Tuesday’s tilt against Providence, the seventh and eighth games he’s missed
due a painful lower back condition. He’s scheduled to undergo a surgical
procedure Monday to help alleviate the spinal stenosis that has forced him to
take a medical leave of absence. His coaching status will then be evaluated on
a day-to-day basis.
UConn is 12-3 at home this season, 4-3 in BIG EAST home
Syracuse is 15-1 in the Big East while Connecticut is 7-8. The
Orange is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games overall and on the road.
The Huskies have been great fade
material of late. UConn is 2-7-1 in its last 10 games overall and 2-6-1 vs. the
number against Big East opponents.
Harvey’s Take: My play is on UConn who not only will
cover but could spring the outright upset.
Be sure to check out Swingin' Johnson's Hoops picks
Geno's NCAA Baketball Picks
Steven Suarez's NCAA Basketball Picks of the Day