No. 2 Connecticut Huskies (25-2), -1, 142.5 @ No. 10 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-4), +1, 142.5.
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wednesday, 7 p.m. Eastern
By Oracle of Predictem.com
Thinking back in recent history, its hard to fathom two teams in the Top 10 that still have a lot to prove. Its such a rare occasion, which is why Wednesday nights match up between Big East beasts Marquette and Connecticut can be labeled as a must-see.
For those closely watching the Bracketology mumbo-jumbo and hanging on every word of who is in and who is out of the Big Dance, Wednesday nights clash at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee will probably go a long way when filling out their 65-team brackets.
The Connecticut Huskies have been up-and-down ever since losing starter Jerome Dyson for the season. Will this contest expose the loss of Dyson even further?
As for Marquette, theyve been labeled, and unfairly to many peoples chagrin (ehmine), as one of the most overrated teams in the country. First year head coach Buzz Williams is an up and coming name, while his team can play the no respect card they have been handed by some experts. Will a win against UConn finally quiet the critics?
The Golden Eagles are tremendous at the BC, holding an undefeated 16-0 mark on the year. However, this time around they open up as the slightest of underdogs, according to a few online sportsbooks, at +1. No doubt the books think that this match up couldnt get much closer with that line. In fact, seeing this game go to PK wouldnt be surprising either.
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The over/under is at 142.5 as well.
Overall, both teams are about equal ATS, with Marquette just above .500 at 11-10-1 while Connecticut is right below at 10-11.
Although the Golden Eagles are undefeated at home, theyre only 5-5-1 ATS in Milwaukee.
No doubt that whenever Marquette plays a top opponent, the biggest match up will be with the other teams post players.
In this case, itll be none other than Hasheem Thabeet of the Huskies, whose 7-foot, 3-inch frame is a full nine inches taller than the person he will be guarded by 66 Lazar Hayward. The Golden Eagles may start 68 Dwight Burke on Thabeet, but he wont be asked to handle the load all game. Instead, Hayward will share those duties.
Marquettes offense is unique, and they have the guards capable of both hitting the triple and taking it right at Thabeet. Jerel McNeal is averaging an even 20 points per game while Wesley Matthews is right behind him at 18.7 points. Marquette scores 80 points per game 11th in the nation.
But Thabeet has proven himself against pretty much everyone that takes him on, so getting him in foul trouble will be no easy task.
What coach Buzz Williams might try to do is spread the floor. Hayward can be a threat from the perimeter, so look for him to try and get Thabeet to respect his outside game so things open up on the inside.
UConn is one of the nations top teams for a reason, though. Even though they lost Dyson, who averaged over 13 points and 1.8 steals per game, they still have the savvy of A.J. Price in the backcourt along with Jeff Adrien.
Depth could be a question mark for coach Jim Calhoun and his squad, who without Dyson, have their seventh man on the depth chart play just 11 minutes per game (Gavin Edwards). In fact, UConn got just six points from their bench in their 64-50 win against South Florida on Saturday. Their starters averaged 33 minutes as well.
Another area where bettors may want to take a look is UConns defense, as they hold opponents to just over 37% shooting 2nd in the nation. They also average 26.8 defensive rebounds per contest, which is also 2nd in the nation.
Without Dyson, their top three-point shooter, UConn was just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc against South Florida and have averaged just 65 points in the three games since hes been out. They lost at home against a good Pitt squad and won in very uninspiring fashion against Seton Hall by eight points and USF at home.
A good showing against Marquette may answer how far they can go in March will become clearer.
With the sporadic play as of late has come some betting trends, actually. UConn is just 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall. On the other side, they have covered well on the road most of the year, including a 6-2 mark ATS in their last eight.
Marquette is 7-1 ATS in their last eight contests against teams with a .600 winning percentage or better.
If bettors take a closer look at their Big East play as of late, Marquette is just 1-4 ATS in their last five.
With their struggling offense, the under has been big for the Huskies as of late. In fact, its 5-0 in their last five road games and 4-1 against the Big East.
Marquette scores well at the BC, with the over at a 7-1 mark against teams that are above a .600 winning percentage.
Either way, one team is going to come out of this epic battle on top. Whoever it is, theyll make it a little easier for you to fill out your brackets when the time comes!
Oracles Pick: We know who Marquette is and what they do. We did know who UConn was until Dyson went down. Their inconsistent play as of late is a big reason why the Golden Eagles will take down this game. Take Marquette either in a pk or any points you can get!