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Connecticut Welcomes the Spartans to Madison Square Garden for Elite 8

Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie, who replaced Jim Calhoun two years ago, deserves a lot of credit for getting the Huskies to the Elite Eight Round of the NCAA tournament.  Connecticut is a profitable 15-4 ATS as neutral court underdogs of six points or less, 7-1 ATS after being installed as an underdog and a perfect 6-0 ATS on the road after covering the point spread in four of its last five games.  The Huskies also save their best basketball for elite opposition as evidenced by the fact that they are 9-2 ATS versus teams who are outscoring their opponents by eight or more points on the season.

Playing at Madison Square Garden also favors Connecticut due to its proximity to the Huskies’ campus, together with the fact that Connecticut is extremely familiar with the venue from its Big East Conference days.  “It felt like a home game.  We just feel like Madison Square Garden is kind of our third home; Gampel (Pavilion) being the first and XL (Center) being the second,” leading scorer Shabazz Napier told the Hartford Courant.  In contrast, Michigan State is 3-10-1 all-time in games played at Madison Square Garden so it appears we have a live underdog on our hands this afternoon.  My power ratings also take issue with the current point spread, which is grossly inflated.

Oskeim Sports Power Ratings:

Connecticut: 10th best team in the nation at 97.3 points

Michigan State: 4th best team in the nation at 98.8 points

The betting public’s love affair with Michigan State has caused the oddsmakers to force bettors to pay a premium for investing on the Spartans.  That assertion is substantiated by the fact that Michigan  State is 0-2-1 ATS in its last three games.  Conversely, Connecticut remains underrated and undervalued by the betting market as the Huskies are 4-1 ATS in their last five games.

Connecticut is 3.8 points per game better than average offensively this season (72.7 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 68.9 points per game) and 8.7 points per game better than average defensively (64.0 points per game to teams that would combine to average 72.7 points per game).  The Huskies’ attack has looked very good in the postseason where they are averaging 73.2 points per game on 46.0% shooting from the field and 43.5% from beyond the arc.

Michigan State is 8.4 points per game better than average offensively (76.1 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 67.7 points per game) and 5.7 points per game better than average defensively (65.7 points per game to teams that would combine to average 71.4 points per game).  Overall, Connecticut possesses a 0.3 points per game advantage defensively, whereas the Spartans maintain a 4.6 points per game advantage over Connecticut’s attack.  Finally, in what is expected to be a very competitive game, Connecticut possesses an important advantage at the foul line.  Specifically, the Huskies are making 76.9% of their free throws this season, including 79.7% on the road and 83.2% over the last five games.  Grab the points and invest with confidence.

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