NCAA Basketball Game Preview: Villanova at Connecticut

Feb 22, 2022

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Game: Villanova Wildcats @ Connecticut Huskies  

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 

Odds:  Wildcats +2, Huskies -2 

Total: 135.5 

It’s a classic Big East showdown as No. 8 Villanova travels to No. 21 Connecticut. The Wildcats are peaking at the right time. Head coach Jay Wright’s team has won five straight including a huge 89-84 win over Providence on the road last week. The Wildcats followed that up with a win over Georgetown on Saturday and now have a shot to at least share the Big East title.  

Connecticut has won three straight and four of its last five. On Saturday, the Huskies avenged an earlier loss to Xavier with a 72-61 victory. Connecticut held the Musketeers to just 5-of-17 shooting from behind the arc and outrebounded them 42 to 26. The Huskies will need to continue with that defense and rebounding ability to have a shot at avenging another early-season loss. 

Villanova won the first meeting this season 85-74 back on Feb. 5. Eric Dixon scored 24 points to lead the Wildcats and leading scorer Collin Gillespie (16.6 ppg) had 19 before leaving the game with a sprained ankle. With Gillespie at the point running the Villanova offense, the Wildcats are hard to stop. Just ask Providence. Gillespie scored 33 points in the victory over the Friars last Tuesday.  

Both teams are solid defensively. Villanova gives up 63.1 points per game and Connecticut allows 65.1. The Huskies do a great job of not allowing too many points in the paint and they defend shooters well. Connecticut ranks No. 20 in the nation in opponent field goal percentage holding teams to 39.5 percent shooting. In UConn’s current three-game winning streak, the Huskies allowed 61, 65, and 60 points. 

As good as Connecticut has been this season (19-7 overall), they have struggled to cover spreads. For the season, the Huskies are just 12-14 ATS and they are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games. Villanova has won the last five games in this series and has won those games by an average margin of 13.6 points per game. It’s no surprise then that Villanova is 4-1 ATS in those last five games. In the last five games between the two teams played at Connecticut, Villanova is a perfect 5-0 ATS. 

Both teams have been trending Over recently. The total has gone Over in four of Villanova’s last six games. For Connecticut, the total has gone Over in 13 of the Huskies’ last 20 games. In four of the last five head-to-head meetings, the total has gone Under. Both teams rank toward the bottom when it comes to tempo. Connecticut ranks 180th in average possession length and 252nd in adjusted tempo. Villanova ranks even lower at No. 342 and No. 347 in both categories, respectively.  

The last time the Wildcats played at Connecticut they were 15.5-point favorites. Villanova won that game 81-61. The Wildcats have only been an underdog four times this season. They are just 1-3 SU when playing the underdog. Connecticut is 19-3 as a favorite.