NCAAB Pick: Connecticut -3.5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)
Score Prediction: Connecticut 73 – St. Mary’s 66
We have an excellent #4 vs. #5 matchup with St. Mary’s taking on the Connecticut Huskies. UConn will have decided home court edge feel playing in New York and the winner of this West Region Second Round battle will most likely face #1 Kansas later this week.
St. Mary’s Gaels vs. Connecticut Huskies
Sunday, March 19, 2023 – 06:10 PM ET at MVP Arena
St. Mary’s Preview
The Gaels (26-7, 19-13-1 ATS) are a 3.5-point underdog to Connecticut at California betting sites. St. Mary’s is known for their strong positional defense under Randy Bennett, where they keep the offensive player in front of them and cleverly play help defense.
We saw it in action against VCU on Friday, as the Rams tried to run pick and roll at the top of the key and about 35% of the time ran a “fake” screen and sent the screener immediately to the basket, but the Gaels attacked the dribbler.
This prevented an easy roll (by the screener) to the basket as they double-teamed the person with the ball and either this took more time off the basket and pushed the dribbler further from the rim or they forced a turnover or errant shot.
St. Mary’s doesn’t have a potent offense at just 71 points a game, yet, it is a team that is very aware and looks for weakside cutters to the basket to frustrate the opposing team. The players to watch for the Gaels are Logan Johnson, Alex Ducas, and possibly most importantly, Aidan Mahaney.
Every team has its ups and downs during the course of the year. Connecticut (26-9, 22-12-1 ATS) has had three separate seasons and they hope the first and last are virtually the same.
The Huskies started 14-0 and the players were convinced they were the best team in the country, ranked No. 1 at that time. Connecticut would lose six of their next eight, all in Big East play, and was playing “hero” ball, with various individuals trying to win the game themselves rather than play as a team.
Since that time, coach Danny Hurley finally got their attention again collectively and the Huskies are 10-2 and 9-3 ATS after beating Iona and are after a five-game winning streak to cut down the nets.
Adama Sanogo was the star of stars versus Iona with 28 points and if he can dominate again that will help everyone else get better looks.
The tempo will be very important to the outcome of this contest. With the total at 129.5 and including the point spread, that suggests Connecticut would win roughly 67-63. However, when the Huskies score less than 70 points, they are 2-4 SU this season. Conversely, when St. Mary’s falls below 70 points they are 9-6 SU.
That means both teams have better outcomes when they reach 70 points. Each squad only allows five made threes a contest, but UConn averages making nine a game and the Gaels are at seven made deep shots.
That could also impact the outcome as the Huskies are 57th in two-point goal percentage with St. Mary’s 147th and could be the difference in the contest, giving the edge to Connecticut for college basketball picks.
Key Trends for Both Teams
- Connecticut is 13-4 ATS versus teams attempting 18 or fewer free throws a game this season.
- Connecticut is 12-3 ATS after a win by 15 points or more this season.
- St. Mary’s is 1-9 ATS in games versus teams averaging 16 or more assists a game.
- St. Mary’s is 17-7 ATS when the total is 120 to 129.5.
- Connecticut is 12-3 Over after a game giving up five or less offensive rebounds.
- St. Mary’s is 23-10 Under as a neutral court underdog of six points or less.
If the selection is Connecticut, chances are they will only win and cover if they reach the 70-point barrier. For the reason given above, the numbers prove how important that is for the Huskies.
One other element that could be important to the outcome against the NCAAB odds for the total score and against the number is freshman Mahaney for St. Mary’s. Mahaney is the Gaels’ second-leading scorer (14.1), but he appears to hit the freshman wall and is at 8.2 PPG in his past five contests and only played 18 minutes Friday.
Nevertheless, look for Connecticut to break 70 points and for the Gaels not to be too far behind.
NCAAB Pick: Over 129.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)
How To Bet the First Half Line
The projected first-half line is UConn -2 and the Huskies are 12-3 against the first-half line after scoring 80 points or more this season and 12-0 ATS if they just played a nonconference contest.
NCAAB Pick: Connecticut -2 (-105) at Bovada
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.