Lock In UCF +16.5 As Your NCAA Basketball Pick Against Connecticut

Kevin Stott

Sunday, March 6, 2016 1:08 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 6, 2016 1:08 PM UTC

The Knights are really good against the NCAA basketball odds and gave Temple all they could handle in Philadelphia two games ago. Let’s handicap all the relevant numbers and trends in this series.

Odds Overview
Central Florida at Connecticut [Sunday 19:00] (ESPNU, WatchESPN, Directv 208 (US), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT): Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut is the site of this American Athletic Conference meeting on Sunday afternoon between host Connecticut (20-10, 13-3 Home) and Central Florida (12-16, 4-6 Away) on Senior Day for the hosts from the Nutmeg State.

The Huskies rolled to an easy win in the first meeting, 67-41, in Orlando in late January (UCONN -7½, 135½, Under) as Shonn Miller had 11 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals and made the team Breakfast (with real Bacon) before the game. Offshore oddsmakers have opened up this game with host Connecticut as big 16½-point favorites (BetOnline) over Central Florida with the Total (Points) for this game set at 135½ on the NCAA basketball odds boards (Bookmaker).


Central Florida Knights
Central Florida (17-9-0 ATS, 7-4-0 ATS Road) and 5th-year Head Coach Donnie Jones may have gotten blown out by 16 points in the first meeting on their Home hardwood in Orlando, but Central Florida has been really good ATS so far this Regular Season (65.4%) and almost as good on the Road ATS (63.3%). In their last game on Wednesday, the Knights defeated Tulane, 73-65 at Home (UCF -5, 126½, Over) as UCF used a 40-33 2nd Half to win the game and cover the Point Spread (by 3 points) as favorites.

In the victory, Daiquan Walker (20 points), Tacko Fall (17 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Adonys Henriquez (16 points) were both in double-digit scoring while Matt Williams had 8 of Central Florida’s 28 points from the Bench. Walker and Henriquez were a combined 6-for-11 from 3-point range and Fall’s scoreline is even more impressive knowing that he was a perfect 8-for-8 from the Field against the Green Wave, but Central Florida (69.8 AF-72.0 AA) will need to improve on the 18 TOs it committed and G AJ Davis (11.8 ppg) will have to score more than the 5 points he did against Tulane for the Knights to have a chance to knock off Connecticut here on Sunday. Central Florida (3-1 ATS L4 at Connecticut) G BJ Taylor (Foot) is Out for the Season.


Connecticut Huskies
Connecticut (12-13-1 ATS, 6-6-0 ATS Home) and 3rd-year Head Coach Kevin Ollie won it all just two short years ago (2014) with Shabazz Napier, but now the Huskies have seem to regressed downward just a little bit to the level of play in their new conference (AAC) and any Men’s National Championships from this point on will be both surprising and hard-earned. But then again, that‘s pretty much how Connecticut won that last national championship, right? In their last game, the Huskies (66/1 to win NCAA Championship, Ladbrokes) was trounced by SMU, 80-54 at Home in Dallas on Thursday as the Mustangs ended up covering ATS by a mere 21½ points (SMU -4½, 132½, Over).

The Mustangs jumped out to a 36-20 lead at Halftime and then outscored the Huskies by another 10 points (44-34) in the 2nd Half at Home in Dallas. Connecticut (#6 in nation in Defensive FG Pct., 38.4%) was led in scoring by Sterling Gibbs (20 points) and Daniel Hamilton (11 points) while Rodney Purvis had 9 of the Huskies 15 Bench points. Hosts Connecticut (72.5 AF-62.7 AA) comes in with no Injuries to report and will definitely need to get more scoring from starters Shonn Miller (6 points vs. SMU), Amida Brimah (1 point vs. SMU) and Jalen Adams (0 points vs. SMU) or the fans in Storrs will be experiencing a second straight disappointing Senior Night.


Recent Relevant Series Trends and Best Betting Approach
As mentioned, the last time these two teams met was less than two weeks ago at the USF Sun Dome in Orlando and Connecticut romped to a 67-41 victory in late January (UCONN -7½, 135½, Under) although Jalen Adams (10 points) was the only other Huskies player besides Miller (11 points) in double-digits. Defense is this team’s forte, despite the 3 straight Overs in which UConn has played. In the Huskies win in the first meeting, Central Florida scored first and then Connecticut scored the next 19 points to take a 19-2 lead and never look back.

The Knights shot an anemic 24% from the Field, were outrebounded 41-33 at Home and the 41 points scored was (and still easily is) USF’s lowest point total of the season. In the 8 meetings in this fairly new AAC series (and before), Connecticut is 7-1 SU but only 3-5 ATS against Central Florida although the Huskies have covered 3 of the L4 after losing ATS the first 4 meetings. The Under is 5-3 ATS in the 8 games and the L3 meetings have gone Under the posted closing Total while the Under is 7-3 ATS in Central Florida’s L10 games overall. And a heavy Trend: The Under is 31-15-1 in the L47 Home games for Connecticut (66%).

Trend-wise for Connecticut (#32 Ken Pomeroy Ranking, .8446 Pythagorean Win Percentage), the Huskies are 2-6 ATS in their L8 overall and just 3-8 ATS in their L11 games on Sunday. Because of that 19-2 Connecticut run was at Central Florida, it seems like backing the Huskies 1st Half may be a good idea, but this team just isn’t playing at peak level right now and to expect a repeat performance (of a 19-point run and a 19-2 start) is asking too much.

And, as mentioned, Central Florida (#193 Ken Pomeroy Ranking .4385 Pythagorean Win Percentage) has a really good overall ATS record as well as a nice 7-4 ATS mark on the Road. The Final Score will probably be very close to the Point Spread and this isn’t the best game on the betting board on Sunday, but taking Fall and Central Florida—which only lost to Temple by 2 points (63-61) in Philadelphia two games ago—the passel o’ points in a game in which the host Huskies just won’t want to be embarrassed—like last year on Senior Night against Memphis—seems like the safest call for my NCAA basketball pick here. The first 10 minutes will tell the story.

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Final Score Prediction: Connecticut 74 Central Florida 60
NCAA Basketball Picks: Central Florida +16½  -103
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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