Friday College Basketball Best Bets: Back UConn In Big East Tournament Semifinals?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on March 11, 2022 - Last Updated on March 12, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

With just two days until Selection Sunday, Friday’s NCAA basketball schedule presents plenty of intriguing conference tournament matchups — highlighted by No. 8 Villanova against No. 20 UConn in the semifinals. Let’s dig into my college basketball best bets for this contest.

Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the biggest games of the day. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.

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Villanova Wildcats vs. UConn Huskies

Although both programs are set for top-five seeds in March Madness, this game is a rematch of an epic finish on Feb. 22. The Huskies trailed by four with under a minute to go, but their point guard R.J. Cole sealed a comeback win with a layup and a charge at the other end in the waning seconds.

So where does the betting value lie when these teams square off for a third time this season?

  • All of Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets

Why Huskies Will Dictate Tempo

Dan Hurley’s squad is one of the hottest teams in college basketball, winning seven of its last eight games, in large part because of its length and gang rebounding prowess. UConn presents a top-two rebounding rate at each end in Big East play.

It only held a slight edge in that category amid their most recent duel, though. The glass wasn’t a factor in the outcome because each team was ultra-efficient with at least 1.11 points per possession. But ShotQuality stated that the Huskies should’ve tallied a nine-point win, grading the Wildcats’ contested makes as positive shooting luck.

Although Villanova will be seeking revenge, UConn’s stout man-to-man defense should disrupt Jay Wright’s crew a bit more in this matchup — especially with Wildcats forward Jermaine Samuels dealing with back spasms.

The 6-foot-7 senior gutted out a seven-point, eight-rebound performance in Villanova’s one-point victory over St. John’s in the quarterfinals. I’d expect Samuels to give it a go once again, but Wright could play it cautiously with March Madness on deck.

When Wright uses Samuels at the five-spot in his small-ball lineup, his floor-spacing presence forces Huskies center Adama Sanogo to guard the perimeter. It’s a sizable mismatch from behind the arc for a team with the 34th-highest 3-point scoring rate.

Nevertheless, there’s a chance that the Wildcats’ short rotation — and Samuels in particular — won’t be in position to deliver a max-effort showing after overcoming a 17-point deficit against the Red Storm on Thursday.

If that comes to fruition, anticipate UConn controlling the defensive glass with its size while ramping up the pace, differing from Villanova’s preferred, methodical tempo.

Keep in mind, the Wildcats surrender their fair share of transition looks from distance. Even though the Huskies don’t rely on that category, Tyrese Martin & Co. are certainly capable of taking advantage.

Villanova – UConn Conclusion

The Huskies closed as two-point home favorites in their second affair. Hence, there’s definitely value with them against the spread. Look for Hurley’s bunch to at least hang within a possession.

Best Available Line:UConn
Eli’s College Basketball Best Bet:


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Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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