College Basketball Bets: Value In UConn Odds Before March Madness?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on February 24, 2023
uconn odds

The 2023 NCAA Tournament gets underway in less than a month. While March Madness odds are on the move, let’s dig into UConn odds and potential Huskies college basketball bets — to determine whether or not they’ll go on a deep run in the bracket.

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UConn College Basketball Odds Trajectory

Here’s how Dan Hurley’s bunch has seen its NCAA tournament odds shift. The Huskies were as low as +1100 to win it all, ripping off 13 straight wins to tip things off — accentuated by a double-digit win over current No. 1 Alabama. But six losses in an eight-game stretch pushed them up to as high +3500 a month later.

DateNational Title Odds
Nov. 7+8000
Dec. 1+1600
Dec. 28+1100
Jan. 26+3500
Feb. 22+3000

Has Huskies’ Defense Returned To Form?

After losing RJ Cole, Tyrese Martin, Isaiah Whaley, and Tyler Polley, UConn was (unsurprisingly) left out of the initial AP Top 25 poll. They remained in my college basketball power ratings from 2021-22, though. That’s a product of Hurley’s defensive principles. The Huskies have delivered in that regard on paper, surrendering the ninth-lowest effective field goal percentage across D-I.

However, per the table above, it’s been a rocky road. For one, UConn showcased the eighth-rated adjusted defensive efficiency (AdjD) before their loss to Xavier on New Year’s Eve. That was partially because of its “elite” rim protection via Adama Sanogo, the Big East preseason player of the year, and 7-foot-1 freshman Donovan Clingan.

But Sanogo, Clingan, and the remainder of the Huskies’ frontcourt were allowing an unsustainable 42.7% 2-point clip. They hadn’t matched up against the conference’s most formidable bigs, either, like Xavier’s Zach Freemantle and Jack Nunge nor Providence’s Bryce Hopkins and Ed Croswell.

Their negative regression came in droves — highlighted by their eighth-rated ShotQuality post-up defense in Big East play. They’ve failed to stay out of foul trouble as well, yielding the conference’s highest free-throw rate.

Nevertheless, they boast the 26th-rated AdjD over their last five games after ranking No. 80 during the previous span. It includes a win over Marquette () and a nail-biting loss to Creighton (), in which it allowed 0.93 PPP.

What’s been the difference?

Playing without fouling — or at least the officials determining so. Moreover, UConn has dictated a much slower tempo than it was demonstrating at the beginning of the season. It’s done so recently by ranking atop college basketball in both offensive rebounding rate and second-chance conversion percentage. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Sanogo, whose refined low-post passing has added another dimension to the Huskies’ half-court attack, is the main cog on the glass. In turn, that all has helped lead to fewer transition opportunities for the opposition.

Daily College Basketball Odds

Miscues Aplenty

Hurley’s squad owns the second-highest turnover percentage in Big East play, and their lead ball-handlers are primarily responsible. East Carolina transfer Tristen Newton and the do-it-all Andre Jackson each possess a turnover rate above 23.0%.

What’s more worrisome is their issues have increased during the most stretch of games. UConn’s turnover rate ranks No. 345 across D-I since Jan. 26. A “pick-six” will be even more consequential in mid-March — especially if Hurley aims to shrink the overall possession count in a given matchup.

With that said, Huskies two-guard Jordan Hawkins doesn’t factor into these concerns. Hawkins, along with the 6-foot-8 freshman Alex Karaban, provide their fair share of floor-spacing. His off-ball movement and brisk shot release, via pindown and stagger screens, play a critical role in Hurley’s motion offense. Hawkins’ marksmanship has the capability to carry his team on a deep run come the Big Dance.

March Madness Seeding

Per KenPom, UConn will be favored through early March. Its regular season finale is against Villanova, which needs to win out before the Big East tournament — and then some — in order to dance. Hence, the Huskies may be on upset alert at the Wells Fargo Center.

Considering the NCAA tournament committee didn’t include UConn in its top-16 seeds via Saturday’s mock bracket, it’ll likely earn a No. 4 seed at best — unless it wins the conference tourney.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the best Huskies national title odds are +3000 at FanDuel. Most sportsbooks have it priced at +2000. That means the market is still pretty high on UConn, taking into account its full body of work.

But let’s say a bettor employs a moneyline rollover strategy, which takes the form of long-term parlay. Essentially, you’re betting a team’s moneyline odds, then using the winnings to bet the moneyline in the next matchup, and so on. While there are no guarantees in regards to the pricing for each game, you’ll likely secure a healthier payout with this approach.

The 2018-19 Auburn Tigers, which I invested in, make for a prime example from their Final Four run. They were a five-seed in March Madness, and their moneyline odds for each round are below:

  • Round of 32 vs. Kansas: -115
  • Sweet 16 vs. UNC: +215
  • Elite Eight vs. Kentucky: +200

Even if you were to just back the Huskies amid a potential Final Four push, a moneyline rollover (with the odds above) equates to +1665. That’s more than double current UConn odds to reach the Final Four (+750), per their futures table.

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College Basketball Bets Conclusion

During UConn’s run to winning the PK85 Invitational in late November, I bet its national title odds. Given the notion above, if you believe that the Huskies have solved their defensive setbacks, a moneyline rollover — for at least the second round through the Final Four — is worth considering.

Hurley’s team could certainly receive a more favorable path to the Final Four, which would make their present odds () more valuable. Therefore, this bet revolves around your risk tolerance.

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