Providence Friars (20-7) at Connecticut Huskies (20-7)
Game Info: Wednesday, February 22, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. EST (Gampel Pavilion)
Betting Odds: UCONN (-7.5) / Over/Under (143.5)
Pick: Providence (+7.5)
In the surefire game of the night in the college basketball slate, let's take a look at a critical Big East matchup where the Providence Friars head into Gampel Pavilion to take on the Connecticut Huskies.
Providence has been one of the surprises in the country this season. Nothing better shows their improvement than their last 2 wins versus the preseason Big East favorites in the Creighton Bluejays and Villanova Wildcats, in which they were able to win by an impressive 21 points combined. You can pinpoint a wide range of areas in which they have excelled in this season to bring them to their current 20-7 record, but the one player that pops straight off of the page is Sophomore transfer forward, Bryce Hopkins. After an underwhelming Freshman season with the Kentucky Wildcats where he only played an average of 6.4 minutes per game, putting in 2.1 PPG in those games, he has managed to take a tremendous leap with the Friars in his first year with Ed Cooley's squad. He now leads the team in PPG with 16.9 and has managed to partner this with 9.3 RPG and a 39.3% clip from distance. In the midst of a 3-game scoring stretch in which he has scored 68 points, the Huskies will need to have their full attention on him as they try to level up the season series versus the Friars.
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Connecticut has put its fan base on a true roller coaster this campaign. After opening up the year 14-0 (11-3 ATS in that opening stretch), they went on a dreadful span of games where they lost 5 out of 6 contests. Most recently, they have rebounded accordingly with 5 wins in their last 7 games, coming into Wednesday night's duel off of a 9-point win versus the Seton Hall Pirates. With the constant up-and-downs that they have gone through, it is hard to tell which team we will get on a nightly basis. Lead bucket getter, Adama Sanogo, has been a mainstay for them all year long, but Sophomore guard, Jordan Hawkins, has elevated his game staggeringly over the Huskies' last 9 contests, scoring 20+ points in two-thirds of those games. Although they have fallen too far down the Big East standings to fight for the top spot, a Quadrant 1 win versus the Friars would give them an excellent chance at securing a top-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament bracket. Will they bring their best on Wednesday night to do that?
Betting trends to consider in this matchup:
- Providence is 15-4 ATS in their last 19 games played
- The Friars are 12-4 ATS in Conference play
- The Huskies are 6-10 ATS in Conference play
This is sure to be a contest that goes all the way down the wire. As you take a look at several of each team's stats in each category, they are mightily close in the majority of key categories. Because of this and the way the Friars have been sharing the ball of late, I will side with Providence to keep this one close enough on the road to secure a win for us. Give me Providence to head on the road and impose Cooley's style of basketball on the Huskies in a bid to sweep the season series.
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