Connecticut Huskies vs. Purdue Boilermakers Preview and Pick

No. 5 Connecticut Huskies -6, 134 O/U (29-4) 15-14 ATS, 11-18 O/U vs. No. 17 Purdue Boilermakers +6, 134 O/U (27-9) 16-17 ATS, 17-16 O/U Thursday, March 26, 2009, Glendale, Arizona, University of Phoenix Stadium, TV: CBS (unless you have the Dish network, then youre out of luck!)

By Wilson of

If my father-in-law can get me a ticket I may just catch a plane to Phoenix this Thursday. The Huskies of Connecticut are in familiar territory as they take on the Boilermakers in round three of the NCAAs. Besides, Phoenix is a really nice place to spend a few days especially in early spring. UCONN comes into the West Region as the No. 1 seed while Purdue is the No. 5 seed. Both of these programs are solid but Purdue has definitely had the more difficult road as of late.

Purdue managed to hold off the Pac-10 Champion Washington Huskies in round two action over the weekend. The Boilermakers were outscored in the second half of the game but they held on for a 76-74 victory. Purdue entered the game as a 1.5 dog but in the end they covered the spread, barely. The odds-makers had the O/U at 140, which went over by 10 points.

Purdues JaJuan Johnson scored a game-high 22 points to go along with his 6 rebounds in the win over Washington. Johnson also had two perhaps game-saving blocked shots with less than a minute to go in the game as he single-handedly denied the Washington Huskies from advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. Purdue, the Big Ten Champions, lead the entire game and by as much as 14 points but the Huskies would not go away. Johnson took over the game with help from his teammates on defense as the Boilermakers stood tall in the end.

UCONNs A.J. Price put up 27 points and Jeff Adrien followed with 23 as the Huskies buried Texas A&M 92-66 for their second consecutive blowout in the tournament. Price has scored 20 points or more in three straight contests as the Huskies shot 58 percent from the field. The Huskies scored over 100 points in their first round game versus Chattanooga. It will be interesting to see how the Huskies matchup with a higher caliber squad this Thursday night.

UCONN comes into Thursdays game as a 6-point favorite. The Huskies are averaging 78.5 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the floor. The Boilermakers are averaging 69.3 points per outing on 44 percent shooting from field goal range.

Defensively, this game may be tighter than the first two rounds for both teams. The Huskies allow 63.5 per contest to their opponents while the Boilermakers hold the opposition to 59.4 on average.

Rebounding may be the difference in this matchup as the Huskies are pulling down nearly 40 boards a game, 27 on defense and 13 on offense. The Boilermakers grab 30 boards a game, 22 on defense and 8 on offense. Second chance opportunities will almost always push another team towards a win. Purdue will need to get back to basic fundamentals by blocking out and getting physical in the paint.

Connecticut is 8-2 in their last 10 games while Purdue is 5-5 in their last ten attempts. Both teams are fighting to stay alive to enjoy the March Madness craziness. The Boilermakers are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games. The Huskies are 18-3 SU in their last 21 games.

Huskies head coach, Jim Calhoun is no stranger to post season play and deep NCAA runs as his teams have been here before and been successful. I like Purdues energy but I must go with the better team in this game- the Huskies.

Wilsons Pick: UCONN 72, Purdue 60. Luck to ya.