Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook
|UConn Huskies||+1||O 140.5 (-110)|
|Xavier Musketeers||-1||U 140.5 (-110)|
The UConn Huskies will face the Xavier Musketeers in a Big East showdown. Both of these teams have the potential to play well but have not been playing so well lately. UConn won their last game against No. 18 Marquette but lost their previous two games to then No. 12 Villanova and unranked Creighton. Xavier lost their last two games and has only won one of their four games against ranked opponents.
UConn has played pretty well in conference play but will have to step up their play and win more consistently if they want to make a run in March Madness. The Huskies have three talented scorers: R.J. Cole, Adama Sanogo, and Tyrese Martin. They average a combined 44.9 points a game, well over half of UConn’s 78 points per game. Those three players take on the majority of the offensive load and much of the rebounding and defensive load.
Xavier only lost one non-conference game but is 6-6 in conference play. They do not have one player scoring 13 points a game, but they have five players averaging 9.6 or more points. They are a smaller team than UConn and going to have to figure out a way to make up for their size disadvantage.
UConn beats Xavier 69-67. UConn covers, Under 138.5 points.
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|Dan Hurley||Head Coach||Travis Steele|
|16-6 (7-4, 3rd in Big East)||Standing||16-7 (6-6, 6th in Big East)|
|Leader (Per Game)|
|R.J. Cole (16.0)||PPG||Jack Nunge (12.7)|
|Adama Sanogo (8.4)||RPG||Colby Jones (7.6)|
|R.J. Cole (4.5)||APG||Paul Scruggs (4.4)|
|R.J. Cole (1.5)||SPG||Colby Jones (1.5)|
|Adama Sanogo (2.1)||BPG||Jack Nunge (1.6)|
|Isaiah Whaley (.544)||FG%||Dwon Odom (.610)|
|Tyrese Martin (.431)||3P%||Nate Johnson (.390)|
UConn may be the underdog, but I think they are the better team because of their size advantage. This will be a fun matchup, but they will need to focus on creating turnovers and protecting the rim if they want to win.
UConn is pretty good at creating turnovers. They average 6.8 steals per game. That number is not outstanding, but it is not horrible. They will need to step up and create more turnovers than usual this game. This will be difficult because they are the bigger team and, therefore, probably the slower team.
UConn has to protect the rim against this smaller Xavier team. This may be difficult since Xavier’s leading scorer, forward Jack Nunge is 7’0”; however, the rest of the team is significantly smaller than Nunge. If UConn blocks shots and protects the rim, they will force Xavier to depend on outside shots to win the game. Xavier simply is not a good enough shooting team to win that way.
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Xavier is just barely the favorite to win this game. If they want to secure the victory, they need to outrebound Uconn and slow down Adama Sanogo.
As I have said many times already, UConn is the bigger team. Since that is the case, Xavier needs to figure out a way to outrebound them. Typically, the team with more rebounds wins the game. This rebounding effort will probably start with guard Colby Jones. Jones leads his team in rebounding with 7.6 per game. Jones will need to battle for boards extra hard this game.
UConn’s Adama Sanogo is having an impressive season but an even more impressive last two games. The sophomore forward from Mali is averaging 19 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals over the last two games. Xavier has to be aware of the impact Sonogo can have and do everything they can to stop it.
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Guard R.J. Cole does a little bit of everything for UConn. Everyone knows he can score, best evidenced by his 16 points per game, but he can also rebound, pass, and create turnovers.
Cole is a jack of all trades on the court. The 6’1” senior does many different things well, and that makes him dangerous. Xavier needs to be aware of his offensive and defensive presence and account for his whereabouts at all times.
Guard Paul Scruggs is similar to R.J. Cole in many ways. The main difference is that Scruggs does not shoot as well (especially from the free-throw line) as Cole.
Xavier heavily depends on Paul Scruggs. The 6’5 senior plays over 31 minutes a game and averages 12.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.5 steals. He only leads his team in one category, assists, but he does everything else well, and that is what makes him the key player.
Defensively, UConn has to treat Scruggs the same way Xavier will treat Cole; they have to be aware of his presence on both sides of the floor.
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|No. 24 UConn Huskies vs No. 25 Xavier Musketeers Information|
|What||No. 24 UConn vs No. 25 Xavier|
|Where||Cintas Center, Cincinnatti, Ohio|
|When||Friday, February 11, 7:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||FS1|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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