Kevin Ollie and the Connecticut Huskies are trying to build momentum heading into the first American Athletic Conference Tournament in about three weeks. They can do that and extend their win streak to four Thursday evening against the Temple Owls.
Backing the Huskies on the road will mean laying 9 points. SBR's live NCAA basketball odds will have the total when it's released.
Thursday's clash is a rematch of the first-ever meeting between the schools about a month ago in Hartford where the Huskies coasted to a 90-66 victory. Temple showed up for about the first five minutes before the Huskies took control with a dominating performance inside and outside, winning the rebounding battle by 20 and hitting 12-of-23 from beyond the arc.
Lasan Kromah's layup with 2½ minutes to go in the first half basically sealed the deal for Husky backers who were giving up 11-12. That total opened at 147 on a late release by timid oddsmakers, was bet down to 141 and then went 'over' the mark with nearly six minutes to spare.
UConn Has Momentum After Sweeping Memphis
Connecticut (20-5 straight up, 13-10 against the spread) moved up to No. 21 in both polls this week following last Saturday's overtime win at Memphis. The 86-81 final pushed the opening 5 point spread, stopping a string of six covers for the Huskies, and the final went well beyond the 143 point total to halt a 4-game run of 'under' winners for UConn.
The victory also gave the Huskies a season sweep of the Tigers, spread-beaters each time after Connecticut pulled off an 83-73 decision as a 7 point 'dog in the Jan. 16 meeting at Memphis, site of this year's AAC Tournament.
Shabazz Napier was the man of the hour last weekend, scoring a game-high 34 and combining with Ryan Boatright to sink 20-of-24 free throws to help overcome a hot-shooting Tigers squad. Napier tops UConn in scoring (18 ppg), rebounding (5.8 rpg) and assists (5.5 apg).
Connecticut is expected to once again be without Omar Calhoun. The sophomore guard has missed the last two game due to a concussion, and is officially listed as questionable for Tuesday's contest.
Tough Stretch On Slate Continues For Owls
It has been a long season for Fran Dunphy and Temple (7-17 SU, 9-12-1 ATS), and it certainly isn't going to get any easier after the Huskies leave Philadelphia on Thursday. The Owls are in the middle of a 5-game span against ranked teams, and hit the road for two more after this one at Memphis and Louisville.
Temple did manage to pull off an upset against one of those ranked clubs last Sunday, taking down Southern Methodist as an 8 point underdog, 71-64. The Owls made up for a poor shooting performance by winning the battle on the glass and outscoring the Mustangs 21-14 from the charity stripe.
They managed to outrebound SMU despite being without Anthony Lee. The junior forward leads the team with 8.9 boards a game, and is questionable for Thursday's tussle due to a knee injury.
Ollie will not let his Huskies look past Temple, and that's why I'm adding them to me free NCAA basketball picks for Thursday.
My pick: Connecticut -9