Connecticut (10-5) at Villanova (13-3)
When: Saturday, February 20th, 2021
Where: Finneran Pavilion,
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Villanova -7/138
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The Connecticut Huskies have battled Covid-19 and injuries all season long, but are finally healthy and are looking to play their way into the NCAA Tournament. After back-to-back impressive wins, the Huskies look to ride that momentum into Villanova on Saturday when they take on the Wildcats in a Big East matchup. UConn is coming off a 73-61 home win over Providence on Tuesday in which they outrebounded the Friars 42-32. That game also saw the return of James Bouknight, who missed eight games because of an elbow injury and he delivered 18 points in 25 minutes of action. The Huskies went 4-4 without Bouknight and are a much better team with him in the lineup. Connecticut is currently the ‘last team out’ according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, but a win at 10th-ranked Villanova would get them in for the time being. The Wildcats are coming off an 86-70 loss at then-No. 19 Creighton last Saturday. The Bluejays shot a sizzling 59.3 percent from the field and it was the most points allowed by the Wildcats this season. Villanova holds a three-game lead in the Big East standings over second-place Creighton with just five games to go including a home game versus the Bluejays on March 3. Villanova won the most recent matchup last January 61-55 at the Pavilion, but the Huskies were able to cover the 10-point spread.
Bouknight has averaged 20.3 points in the six games he’s played so far this season and is a big reason the Huskies can be a threat come March. UConn’s defense has been solid in Big East play, allowing just 65.9 points per game in conference play with Big East teams shooting just 42.8 percent from the floor. Tyrese Martin scored 18 points in the win over the Friars Tuesday, while R.J. Cole added 13 and Isaiah Whaley contributed three blocked shots. That improved the Huskies to 10-5 overall and 7-5 in the conference. Bouknight should provide an offensive spark for a team that ranks 215th in the country in field goal shooting at 43.4 percent. Connecticut will be at Georgetown on Tuesday.
The Wildcats dropped their second game in four tries Saturday to the Bluejays and the Wildcats came in as 2-point road favorites. Villanova shot only 37.5 percent from the field against Creighton after recording a 63.0 field goal percentage in the win over the Marquette Golden Eagles in their previous game. The Wildcats are averaging 78.6 points per game and 1.169 points per possession – 13th overall in the nation. KenPom has Villanova’s offense ranked first in adjusted efficiency with 118.4 points per 100 possessions. Just three players scored in double-figures Saturday at Creighton with Justin Moore leading the way with a season-high 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting. The Wildcats will host St. John’s on Tuesday.
The Huskies have something going right now and they play very well on the road: 6-1 ATS in their last seven away from home. They are also on an 8-1 ATS on the road against teams with winning records, while the Wildcats are just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 home games. Take the points.
Pick: Connecticut +7