Third-ranked Villanova can’t clinch the Big East regular-season title on Thursday night with a win at unranked UConn, but the Wildcats can take another big step toward that goal. They will be favored on the NCAAB odds.
How to Bet Villanova at UConn NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info
Last season, the schools played once and Villanova won 61-55 at home when it was ranked No. 14 and UConn unranked. Jermaine Samuels (still with Nova) scored 19 points and made the decisive three-point play that pushed Villanova ahead for good. Samuels converted a three-point play with 2:51 left for a 52-51 lead and then buried a 3 with 31 seconds remaining for a four-point lead. The Huskies’ Christian Vital fought through the lane and tossed in a layup that brought the Huskies within two with 24 seconds left. But a full-court press on Villanova came up empty and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl sank two free throws to secure the win.
Why Bet on Villanova? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis
The Wildcats (10-1) beat Providence 71-56 on Saturday in their second game since a long COVID shutdown. Nova was down 27-24 at the break but dominated in the second half. The Wildcats surged out of the locker room, hitting 10 of their first 21 second-half shots, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s dunk on a pass from Moore made it 50-38 Villanova with 10:12 remaining. That capped a 26-11 run after halftime.
“We got used to their length and speed,” coach Jay Wright said.
Senior Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore led a balanced Villanova attack with 15 points apiece. Junior Caleb Daniels added a dozen points for the ‘Cats. Villanova limited Providence to .385 shooting from the field on the day and forced 19 turnovers. Nova enjoyed a 17-7 edge in points off of turnovers and a 20-7 advantage in second chance points.
“That was a good step for us against an outstanding defensive team,” stated Wright. “They always give us trouble. In the first half, we couldn’t score. I was pleased with our patience in not getting frustrated. We continued to play good defense of our own.”
Senior forward Jermaine Samuels was selected as the Big East Player of the Week Monday. He averages 9.2 points and 7.1 rebounds this season. Gillespie has been named one of the Top 10 candidates for the 2021 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. Gillespie’s former road roommate, Jalen Brunson, won the 2018 Bob Cousy Award.
So far in 2021, Gillespie is averaging 15.9 points and 4.1 assists. He is shooting 44.3% from the floor (including 44.6% from behind the arc). He is one of two Big East players on the list, with Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski also making the cut.
Senior forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree recently underwent surgery to address a tibial stress fracture in his left leg. Cosby-Roundtree, who has not yet seen game action in 2020-21 due to the injury, will be sidelined from basketball activities for an undetermined length of time as he recovers. In three seasons at Villanova, Cosby-Roundtree has appeared in 105 games, earning 17 starting assignments.
Why Bet on Connecticut? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis
The Huskies might be an NCAA Tournament bubble team right now. The team has really struggled since leading scorer James Bouknight went down injured and required surgery on his left elbow. Bouknight had been leading the Big East in scoring, averaging 20.3 points, while making 45% of his shots from the field.
Connecticut’s triumphant return to the Big East has been highlighted by Coach Dan Hurley’s gem of his 2019 recruiting class in Bouknight. He had been named to the Midseason Top 25 for the Wooden Award before suffering the injury in the Huskies’ dramatic win against Marquette in Milwaukee on January 5th.
Bouknight, who chose the Huskies over offers from Maryland, Indiana, Illinois, and Miami, among others, came to UConn in 2019 determined to aide Hurley in rebuilding UConn to the national power it used to be.
Bouknight produced a memorable Big East debut with a 40-point effort against Creighton on Dec. 20. It was the second-highest total ever for a player making his Big East debut, second only to Marquette’s Steve Novak’s 41 against UConn on Jan. 3, 2006. It was the 18th game of 40 or more points by a UConn player and the first since Amida Brimah canned 40 on Dec. 14, 2014, against Coppin State.
Also, freshman Andre Jackson remains sidelined while he heals a broken bone in his wrist. UConn leads the Big East in scoring defense (64.6) offensive rebounds (13.9) and rebound margin (+3.6).
UConn has an overall record of 198-39 (.835) at Gampel Pavilion since the building opened on January 27, 1990. The Huskies are 95-10 (.905) against non-league competition, are 77-21 (.786) against Big East opponents and were 26-8 (.765) against American Athletic Conference opponents in Gampel. In two-plus seasons, Hurley is 19-4 at Gampel.
- Villanova 70, Connecticut 68
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