Tonight, there is a Big East Conference showdown between Villanova (8) and Connecticut (21).
My parents live in Connecticut, so I lobbied them (unsuccessfully) to go to the game with me in Hartford. That is how exciting this game is going to be.
The Big East is one of the top college basketball conferences, and UConn and Villanova are two of the best teams in it. With seven Big East teams likely to make the tournament, both the Wildcats and Huskies have faced tough conference opponents this season.
Nova has a 21-6 record, while UConn isn’t far behind at 19-7. The Wildcats have also played better against their conference rivals, going 14-3 against Big East teams while the Huskies are 10-5.
When these two teams met earlier in February, Villanova won in Philadelphia, 85-74. With UConn hosting this time around, however, can the Huskies pull out a win to narrow the gap in the standings?
Please note that all college basketball odds and lines are current as of 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, February 22.
Villanova vs Connecticut Predictions
After getting off to a bumpy start this season, the Wildcats have finally hit their stride in February under head coach Jay Wright. Since losing to Marquette to start the month, they are 5-0 in conference play since then, including a road win over a ranked Providence team and their aforementioned victory over the Huskies.
While Villanova’s overall record is impressive, I believe they’re still a bit underrated. Based on our March Madness simulation, they’re legitimate championship contenders.
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Despite averaging 73.7 points per game (81st overall), the Wildcats have the sixth-best offensive efficiency in the country. That’s because of their slow-tempo offense (10th-slowest adjusted pace in the NCAA), as fewer possessions mean fewer points scored and allowed.
As such, Villanova is built to win close, low-scoring games. We’ll likely see that here, as the Huskies and Wildcats are evenly matched.
UConn is a balanced team with a top 25 offense and defense. They also have a 4.2-point home-court advantage, which is the sixth-strongest in the nation.
The issue with the Huskies, however, is that they’ve yet to beat anyone good. Outside of Auburn, they haven’t defeated any nationally-ranked teams in the AP Top 25.
Villanova should edge Connecticut again, but it won’t be an easy task on the road.
Villanova vs Connecticut Prediction: Villanova 70, Connecticut 64
Villanova vs Connecticut Best Bets
Best Bet: Villanova +2.5 (-110) at BetMGM (would bet up to -2)
Wager: 2 Units
While UConn is a strong team with home-court advantage, they don’t deserve to be favored against Villanova tonight. The Wildcats won their last meeting by 11 points, after all, and frankly should have won by more.
Villanova has yet to play their best basketball this season, but this game and their rematch against Providence will be their biggest tests in the run-up to the Big East conference tournament.
Even though I believe the Wildcats will win by six points here, I prefer to take the spread rather than the moneyline as their slow pace of play makes this game more of a toss-up.
Villanova is usually heavily favored, so it’s rare to get them as an underdog. Beating them by a three-pointer or more is not an easy task for UConn or any team, which is why I’m taking Nova to cover for my CBB bet of the day.