UConn vs. Villanova Odds
|Moneyline||+225 / -285|
|Time | TV||1 p.m. ET | FOX|
|Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.|
The Connecticut Huskies will travel to Pennsylvania to take on the Villanova Wildcats on Saturday afternoon. Connecticut had been playing for the last month without star James Bouknight as he was sidelined with an elbow injury.
The Huskies went 4-4 in his absence, but were happy to see him return to play last time out against Providence. Bouknight did not disappoint in his return, contributing 18 points in just 25 minutes coming off the bench.
Villanova had a 27-day pause towards the end of December due to COVID protocols. The Wildcats have responded nicely from that layoff and are 13-3 on the season with one of the most prolific offenses in the nation.
Jay Wright’s squad ranks fifth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, scoring 121.9 points per every 100 possessions, according to KenPom. But the Wildcats have struggled defensively, which may be the vulnerability that the rest of the Big East was looking for.
When Connecticut has the ball
Bouknight finally returned from his eight-game absence on Tuesday and helped the Huskies defeat Providence, 73-61. It’s clear that this is a different team when he is on the court, and he has NBA scouts watching him like a hawk.
Bouknight is averaging 20.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in his seven contests this season. The importance of Bouknight to Dan Hurley’s team can’t be overstated. Connecticut averages nine more points per game when he is in the lineup and boasts a 6-1 record with him.
With their leader back in the lineup, this allows R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin to play more of a supportive role offensively. Those two were forced to carry the majority of the load for Connecticut when he was out. Martin is averaging 12.5 points and 7.4 rebounds while Cole is contributing 12.2 points and 4.3 assists a game. These trio of guards are some of the best in the Big East and present a challenge to any defense trying to slow them down.
When Villanova has the ball
Villanova has one of the more well balanced offenses in the country, with five players averaging double digits. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is the leading scorer for the Wildcats, averaging 15.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Nova has a pair of guards that will match up well with Connecticut in Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore. Both are long range shooters who take a combined 11.2 three points attempts a game and hit at a 35.9% clip.
Villanova ranks among the best in the conference in the majority of offensive categories this season. In Big East play they own the No. 1 ranking in offensive efficiency, 3-point % and Free Throw %, according to KenPom. They take a boatload of 3-pointers, shooting a shot behind the arc on 46.8% of their offensive possessions. The Wildcats also don’t turn the ball over often, ranking first in the conference in that category. All in all, this is a deadly offense that puts up 78.6 points per game.
Villanova’s weakness comes at the defensive end of the court, and things are still trending in the wrong direction. Although they have the highest steal percentage among Big East teams, the aggressive playing style hasn’t worked out overall. The Wildcats rank dead last in the Big East in defensive field goal %, allowing opponents to hit 54.9% of shots. They also rank last in opponent 3-point %, allowing teams to hit an astounding 40.5% from deep. They only block 3.2% of shot attempts and give up too many clean looks at the rim this season.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Connecticut looked like the same team we saw early in the year with Bouknight back in the lineup. He rejuvenated this offense and took some pressure off of both Cole and Martin.
There is no doubt that Villanova is going to score on the offensive end with all the weapons it has. Villanova’s defense has been extremely suspect as of late and I see Connecticut taking full advantage. Eight of the last 10 games have gone over the total in Villanova games. Seven of those hit the over by double digits. I am anticipating that trend to continue in this game and am playing the over of 138.
Pick: Over 138; Play up to 139.5