After a slow start this season, Villanova is now playing more like the team that they were expected to be this season.
But a real test of where the Wildcats (7-5, 1-0 Big East) now are under first-year coach Kyle Neptune is ahead tonight, as they face undefeated and second-ranked UConn (13-0, 2-0 Big East) tonight at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut (6:30 pm ET, FS1).
The Wildcats have won five straight games, and they got off to a winning start in Big East play with a 78-63 win over St. John’s last Wednesday.
There’s a big leap from the Red Storm to the Huskies, who have beaten every opponent they have faced this season by double digits.
Can the resurgent Wildcats play the Huskies closer than anyone else has to date? Read on for our Villanova vs UConn prediction, as well as our betting picks and analysis for tonight’s matchup in Hartford.
Villanova vs UConn Odds
Game odds are via FanDuel as of Wednesday, December 28, 2022, at 1:10 pm ET. This article may also include odds from our other recommended legal sports betting sites.
- Villanova +11.5 (-104)
- UConn -11.5 (-118)
- Over 136.5 (-110)
- Under 136.5 (-110)
Can Villanova Continue to Deliver on Both Ends of the Court?
It took some time–and the addition of freshman Cam Whitmore–but things are trending way up for Villanova offensively and defensively.
After making 10+ threes in three consecutive games, the Wildcats were only 6 of 19 from three against St. John’s. But they made 55 percent of their two-point attempts (22 of 40) and shot 47.5 from the field overall, which was only the fifth time this season that they shot 45 percent or better from the field.
Defensively, Villanova allowed 73, 81, 83, and 74 points in the four-game losing streak that dropped them to 2-5. But in their five-game winning run, they have allowed 66, 59, 56, 64, and 63 points.
Last Three Games for Villanova
- Boston College: 22 of 56 FG (39.3%), 8 of 26 3PT (30.8%)
- St. Joseph’s: 24 of 62 FG (38.7%), 9 of 29 3PT (31.0%)
- St. John’s: 27 of 75 FG (36.0%), 6 of 25 3PT (24.0%)
But none of those teams are UConn, who is one of only two teams–UCLA is the other–who occupies a spot in the top ten in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency at KenPom.
The Huskies are shooting 57.1 percent on two-point shots, and they are shooting 37.3 from three.
Leading the way is Adama Sanogo, who ranks 24th in the country in field goal percentage (61.9%) and 47th in scoring (18.6 PPG), and he is averaging a team-leading 7.2 rebounds per game.
Sanogo has taken only 21 threes, but he has made nine of them (42.9%), which puts him second on the team percentage wise from three, behind San Diego transfer Joey Calcaterra (52.3%) and second-leading scorer Jordan Hawkins (41.1%)
Villanova vs UConn Prediction and Picks
Villanova vs UConn Prediction: UConn to win
Villanova vs UConn Picks: Villanova/UConn first half over (Best Value: over 63.5 @ Caesars Sportsbook) & UConn team total over 74.5
The first half total is 64.5 at a number of spots, but Caesars Sportsbook still has it at 63.5 at the time of the writing. If you can snag it at that, don’t hesitate. There have been 64 or more points in five of UConn’s seven games against power conference opposition.
The Wildcats have faced some of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the country in recent weeks, with mixed results.
They survived against Oklahoma despite Grant Sherfield–the nation’s leading three-point shooter–making 6 of 8 threes, because he made only 1 of 8 two-point shots and didn’t have much help from a limited Oklahoma team.
And they survived in a seven-point win against St. Joseph’s because Cameron Brown–who shoots 45 percent from three–was only 2 of 9 from three and 3 of 15 overall, negating the impact of a monster game by Erik Reynolds III, who, like Sherfield, made 6 of 8 from three.
UConn is a much, much stiffer challenge. They have a lot of guys who can score, and a number of them can shoot. The Huskies can pummel you inside and outside, and the nation’s sixth-most efficient team offensively is fourth in defensive efficiency.
I’m not downing Villanova’s resurgence, even if it hasn’t come against outstanding opposition.
They are a much better and more dangerous team with Whitmore, who is averaging 12.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 1.4 steals per game in five games since making his collegiate debut against Oklahoma.
But can they keep up with UConn for 40 minutes tonight? I don’t think they are quite there yet.
As I have noted previously, I don’t love double-digit spreads often, and I’m not touching this one. But I like the value in the first half over and the over on UConn’s team total, as I expect the Huskies to be able to break through and break down the Wildcats on the way to scoring 75+ points for the 11th time this season.