UConn Huskies vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs Expert Pick
UCONN HUSKIES VS. GONZGA BULLDOGS EXPERT PICK - Greetings basketball fans. Welcome back to our weekly column where we break down some of the marquee matchups from the upcoming weekend’s slate of games.
This week we will turn our focus to the collegiate ranks. We have seen some unbelievable games in the NCAA tournament thus far, and this next round should be no exception.
Our game of the day features No. 4 Connecticut (28-8) taking on No. 3 Gonzaga (31-5). Let’s look at how each team got to the Elite 8 and which will advance to the Final four.
UConn Huskies vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs: How Each Team Advanced to The Elite 8
Connecticut’s road to redemption started a little over a year ago. It entered last year’s tournament as a No. 5 seed taking on No. 12 New Mexico State.
But despite playing against an opponent that had not won a tournament game since 1993, UConn was bounced in the opening round by a 70-63 margin, marking the second time that day in which a No. 12 seed knocked off a No. 5 team. Not only that, UConn suffered an opening-round loss for the second straight season.
Fast forward to the present, the narrative is a bit different, to say the least. After closing out the regular season with six wins in their final seven games, the Huskies have been dominant through the tournament’s first three rounds.
They knocked off No. 13 Iona in the opening round to the tune of 87-63. UConn followed that up with a 70-55 win over No. 5 Saint Mary’s. And in their recent outing in the Sweet 16, the Huskies cruised to an 88-65 over Arkansas, stamping their trip to this Elite Eight round for the first time since 2014, which is also the last time this team won the national championship.
UConn has won their three tournament games by an average of 20.7 points per contest while limiting their opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field. It should also be noted that UConn is allowing just 61 points per contest in the tournament. Taking that into a consideration, points may be a premium in this matchup.
On the other side of this equation, we have a Gonzaga team that has been playing some good basketball as well. For starters, the Bulldogs posted wins in each of their last nine games of the regular season.
While the margin of victory in their three tournament wins (six points per contest) isn’t quite as impressive as UConn, Gonzaga is riding the wave of a 12-game winning streak coming into this matchup.
Furthermore, this program is playing in the Elite Eight round for the fifth time in eight seasons. After rallying to knock off the No. 2 Bruins, Gonzaga will need to bring its “A” game against UConn if they hope to earn a spot in the Final Four.
The projected O/U for this contest opened at 154 total points. That line has moved slightly to 153.5.
The UNDER is 5-1 for UConn in its last six contests following an ATS win and a straight-up win. Additionally, the UNDER holds a 5-1 mark in the Huskies’ last six Saturday games and a 5-2 mark in their last seven games overall.
The projected point total has gone OVER in 10 of Gonzaga’s last 13 games overall. The OVER also has a 9-3 record for Gonzaga in its last 12 games following a straight-up win and a 5-2 record in the last seven games following an against-the-spread victory.
The OVER holds a 45-17 record for the Bulldogs in their last 62 games in which they played on a Saturday. Given these trends, along with the fact that the teams are averaging a combined 165.7 points per contest, I’m going with the OVER in this contest.
At the time of this writing, UConn opened as a consensus one-point favorite (-1). That line has moved to (-2.5).
Here are a few reasons why I’m going with UConn to cover the spread.
UConn holds a 7-1 record ATS in its last eight games at a neutral site. The Huskies are 7-1 ATS in their last eight matchups against opponents with a winning percentage of more than .600. Gonzaga has a winning percentage of .861.
The Huskies are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 outings in which they won the previous game by more than 20 points. They defeated Arkansas by 23 points (88-65).
An even bigger sample size shows UConn is 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 contests following a straight-up win and this squad is 19-7 against the spread in its last 26 tournament games.
Simply put, go with UConn to win, and cover the 2.5-point spread.
Player Prop Bet: Drew Timme
My player to watch in this matchup is Gonzaga forward Drew Timme. He currently has -140 odds to score more than 19.5 points and +105 odds to score less than 19.5 points.
Timme has been solid for Gonzaga during the tournament. In the first round, he tallied 21 points and six rebounds against GCU. He followed that up with a 28-point, eight-rebound effort in the team’s 84-81 win over TCU.
But his best outing thus far was against UCLA. In that contest, he scored 36 points, pulled down 14 rebounds, and handed out four assists.
Timme is averaging 28.3 points and nine rebounds per contest on 62 percent shooting from the field in the tournament. Simply put, he has been tough to defend.
Taking these trends into consideration, I’m going with Timme to exceed the projected 19.5 points.
Over 153.5 total points
PPB: Drew Timme OVER 19.5 points