Connecticut is a money-making 14-4 ATS as a neutral court underdog of six points or less and is the beneficiary of playing a quasi-home game at Madison Square Garden. My math model actually favors Connecticut by one point and the Huskies apply to a very good 43-9-1 ATS tournament situation of mine that invests on certain underdogs off an upset win, provided that they are matched up against an opponent off a SU and ATS win.
Oskeim Sports Power Ratings:
Connecticut: 10th best team in the nation at 97.1 points
Iowa State: 17th best team in the nation at 96.2 points
Connecticut’ success is predicated upon a very good defense that is allowing 63.7 points per game to teams that would combine to average 72.4 points per game, thereby making the Huskies 8.7 points per game better than average defensively. Teams are only shooting 38.9% from the field against the Huskies this season, including just 38.3% over the last five games.
While Connecticut’s defense is very good, it’s not good enough to completely shut down a prolific Iowa State attack that is averaging 83.2 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 69.7 points per game. However, the Cyclones’ attack took a major hit when forward Georges Niang was lost for the season with a foot injury on March 21. Niang was averaging 16.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game before sustaining his injury against NC Central, and I his absence worth two points. Overall, Iowa State is 13.5 points per game better than average offensively, but that projection fails to take into account Niang’s injury.
Connecticut will have its most success at the offensive end of the floor against a woefully inadequate Iowa State defense that is yielding 78.6 points per game on the road and 78.2 points over the last five games. The Huskies are 3.8 points per game better than average offensively (72.5 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 68.7 points per game), which gives them a 4.5 points per game advantage offensively in this game. I also like the fact that Connecticut is shooting 76.5% from the foul line, including 79.1% on the road, whereas the Cyclones are shooting just 69.8% from the charity stripe.
From a situational standpoint, I’ve already discussed the home court advantage favoring the Huskies as they simply have to take a train into the City for Friday’s game at Madison Square Garden. Moreover, the “wounded dog” theory is triggered here as well as Iowa State played exceptionally well in its first game without Niang, but teams generally suffer a letdown after circling the wagons immediately following a star player’s injury. The second game usually involves a letdown, and I expect Connecticut to exploit of both situations tonight. With No. 3 seeds standing at a horrible 2-12 ATS in the Sweet 16 Round of the NCAA tournament following consecutive SU and ATS wins, take the Huskies and invest with confidence.