Uconn Huskies vs. Villanova Wildcats Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Uconn Huskies (14-11 SU, 9-14 ATS) vs. Villanova Wildcats (22-2 SU, 16-7 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Monday, February 15, 2010, Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pa. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Connecticut +9.5/Villanova -9.5

Over/Under: 157

Jim Calhoun is back on the sidelines coaching the Connecticut Huskies, but that doesn’t mean anything is going to change as far as losing games. In Calhoun’s first game back on Saturday after being on leave with medical issues, the Huskies lost at home to Cincinnati. It doesn’t get any easier on Monday when they play at Villanova.

Villanova is alone in first place in the Big East with an 11-1 conference record. The Wildcats’ only loss came at Georgetown. But since then, they’ve bounced back with wins at West Virginia and at home over Providence. The ‘Cats are 11-0 at home this season, either at the Pavilion or the Wachovia Center. This game happens to be at the Wachovia Center. They’ve won all but two of their home games this season by at least 10 points. Their only two home close home games were an 82-77 win over Georgetown and a 78-76 win over Marquette. For the season, they are 10-4 ATS at home and 13-6 ATS as a favorite.

In their last game, the ‘Cats won 92-81 over Providence on Saturday. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher each scored 22 points. Antonio Pena had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Corey Stokes added 10 points. The ‘Cats out-rebounded Providence by 13 and shot 47 percent from the field and 7-for-20 from beyond the arc. They held Providence to 39 percent shooting from the field and 9-for-25 on 3-pointers.

After being ranked in the top 15 in the country earlier this season, UConn has struggled mightily over the 11 games. The Huskies have lost eight of their last 11, have a 4-8 conference record, and are currently looking like an NIT team. They haven’t won a single road game all season long, holding an 0-6 record. They’ve lost five of their last six games after a huge win over Texas with their only win in that span coming at home over lowly DePaul. In their latest two-game losing streak, they lost by five points at Syracuse and then at home to Cincinnati on Saturday.

In their 60-48 loss to Cincinnati, the Huskies shot just 35 percent from the field and 3-for-15 on 3-pointers. They also got out-rebounded by 12, committed 17 turnovers, and shot only 50 percent at the free throw line (9-for-18). Kemba Walker led the Huskies with 14 points, and Calhoun professed after the game that he was the only player on the team who played well in the loss. Jerome Dyson scored 13 points, and Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards each had 10 points. The Huskies held Cincinnati to 38 percent shooting from the field and 3-for-17 from beyond the arc, so they played well defensively, but their offense was dreadful.

Two of the most important statistics in basketball are turnover and rebounding margins. In conference play, the Huskies have a -1.2 rebounding margin and a -3.2 turnover margin. Their defense hasn’t been bad at all but they are also shooting just 28.5 percent from 3-point range in conference play and have only made about three 3-pointers per game. Villanova, meanwhile, has an even turnover margin in conference play and a +5.7 rebounding margin. The ‘Cats are shooting 49 percent from the field in Big East play and 38.6 percent from 3-point range.

UConn is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as an underdog, 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games as a road underdog, 2-6 ATS in its last eight games following an ATS loss, and 1-5 ATS in its last six games overall. Villanova is 6-0 ATS in its last six Monday games. The ‘Cats are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games as a home favorite, 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS loss, 9-4 ATS in their last 13 Big East games, and 15-6 ATS in their last 21 games overall. The over is 6-2 in the last eight meetings between these teams, but the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings at Villanova. The home team is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 games between these teams and the favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings. The Huskies are 1-4 ATS in its last five games against Villanova and 0-4 ATS in their last four games at Villanova.

Ryno’s Pick: This is a tough game to pick. My lean is to lay the points with Villanova but it might be better to tease the Cats with another game you like on today’s card.