Connecticut Huskies vs. Providence Friars Preview and Pick

Connecticut Huskies (23-6), -4.5, o/u 148.5 @ Providence Friars (14-14), +4.5, o/u 148.5, Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI, 7 p.m. Eastern, Thursday
By Oracle of

After starting out their Big East schedule just 2-3, it looked as though the 13th ranked Connecticut Huskies were headed toward a spot in the NIT for the second straight year.

Coincidentally, though, after losing to Providence all the way back on January 13th, 77-65, UConn rolled off 10 straight wins and have won 12 of 13 overall, solidifying them as a team to be reckoned with.

Meanwhile, Providence went in the exact opposite direction after the upset of UConn, losing 9 of 11 and trying to scratch their way into the Big East Tournament.

The Huskies have already clinched a first round by in the conference tournament, but are still battling it out with Notre Dame for the No. 3 seed. Casual fans may see the Huskies 10-game winning streak and think they dominated for a lengthy period of time, but that’s not necessarily the case. The average margin of victory was just 5.7 during the winning streak, including one point wins against Cincinnati and South Florida in overtime.

Most betting sites have opened up favoring the Huskies -3.5 and has already moved a full point to UConn 4.5. The game will be played at one of the best names for a basketball arena in the country the Dunkin Donuts Center where Providence is 9-5 overall. The over/under opened up at 148.5 as well.

The Huskies will try to avenge the early season loss where the Friars held them to a season-low 37% shooting, including a paltry 4-of-19 from three-point range. Connecticut also found themselves in foul trouble as A.J. Price, who was their leading scorer at the time, committed his fourth foul with nearly 13 minutes to go.

It was the long-ball that kept the Friars afloat against UConn the first time around. They hit an astounding 14-of-24 triples a 58.3% clip. Dwain Williams, who will be out for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury, hit 6-of-9 from downtown in just his second game back from a different injury, and finished with a game-high 23 points. Brian McKenzie hit four threes of his own and scored 20 points, as it looked like everything was copasetic in Providence, holding down a 12-5 overall record and a 3-2 start in the Big East at that point.

Then things got ugly.

Providence has won just two games since, including an overtime win against Cincinnati on Sunday, 81-79. Five different Friars scored in double figures, with McKenzie leading the way (18 points). Marshon Brooks came up big with four points in overtime and a key block down the stretch to seal the victory.

If Providence wants to sweep the season series against UConn, they’ll need a total team effort like the one on Sunday.

The Huskies are led by Price, who scored 24 points in their most recent 79-71 win against West Virginia. However, it’s Jeff Adrien who is the X factor for his squad. Adrien has been steady all year, getting held to single digits just twice, and leading the team in scoring (15.2 points). Adrien recorded one of his 16 double-doubles in the first go-round against Providence (16 points, 15 boards) and will once again be a tough match up.

On the year, Providence is 11-15 against the spread and 6-6 at home. They’ve had a difficult time as of late covering at the Dunkin Donuts Center, compiling a 1-4 mark in their last five home games.

The Huskies are 12-12 on the year ATS and an even 5-5 away from home.

There aren’t a plethora of head-to-head trends that bettors can really focus on between these two Big East squads except for the fact the road team is 7-0 ATS in the past seven overall meetings.

Both teams are right around .500 when it comes to the over/under, with Providence at 12-14 and Connecticut at 13-12.

With Williams out for Providence, the Friars will need a total team effort to pull off the season sweep of UConn. It’ll help that they’re playing at home.

Oracle’s Pick: Providence won’t have quite enough tonight to make it happen. We hate siding with the general betting public, but we feel that this line was set too low and that UConn will squeek by for a cover.