College Basketball Betting: Connecticut at Georgetown Preview
by Robert Ferringo - 1/8/2010
If you threw the numbers "13" and "12" at me in regards to Connecticut and Georgetown basketball this year my Jeopardy-style response would have been, "What is the number of losses that each team has this year?"
Nope. The numbers "13" and "12" are the respective rankings for the Huskies and the Hoyas as they enter their marquee matchup at noon on Saturday at Georgetown. Somehow these two teams, despite significant personnel losses in the offseason, have managed to work their way into the Top 15. So, in my opinion, that has vaulted both teams into the elite level of Most Overrated Teams In The Country along with Kentucky and North Carolina.
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Talk about living on reputation.
Georgetown's resume is not terrible. However, it's certainly not, in my humble opinion, befitting of the No. 12 team in the nation. Their best wins this year were over two other teams that have secure positions on the Extremely Overrated Train: Butler and Washington. Each of those teams started the season in the absurd position of the Top 15 and was each ranked in the Top 20 when the Hoyas took them down. However, reality has set in and right now they are both fringe Top 25 clubs.
Now, those are the best two wins on the Georgetown schedule. They also beat Temple, 46-45, in one of the uglier games of the year. But I feel like those three victories over second- and third-tier clubs can be cancelled out by a home loss to Old Dominion and a road defeat at middling Marquette.
Connecticut's resume is even worse. According to the numbers they have played a decent schedule but the results have been less than impressive. Their best wins have come over No. 59 Seton Hall and No. 63 Harvard. Yeah, you read that right. And both of those games were at home and eight points and six points decided them, respectively. The Huskies also barely managed to hold off third-tier teams like William & Mary (by nine), Hofstra (by nine), and Notre Dame (by 12) in games that were closer than the scores suggest.
Further, Connecticut has been beaten in their only three games against Top 56 teams (Cincinnati, Kentucky and Duke) and they are just 1-3 in road or neutral site games.
So between the two of them, the No. 12 and No. 13 teams in the country are 2-5 against teams in the Top 56, 0-3 in the Top 25, and a combined 9-12 against the spread. To me that screams one thing: overrated.
But none of that will matter on Saturday when these teams get together to bang heads. Regardless of where their actual value at the window lies one of these teams is going to score their "best" win of the season this weekend.
Connecticut has actually started to play better basketball and has covered the spread in three of four contests. That includes a hard-fought victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday and a strong home win over Notre Dame last weekend. Saturday's game will be their second conference road game, with the first being a loss at Cincinnati last week.
The Huskies are enormous. Their average player is 6-foot-5 and their "effective height" ranks No. 11 in the country. Six of their top eight scorers are 6-7 or taller and this team routinely has three exceedingly athletic players at 6-9 or larger on the court at the same time. They are No. 44 in the country in rebounding margin and No. 29 in offensive rebounding.
Georgetown doesn't have the same level of overall height but the effectiveness of their height is on par with the Huskies. The Hoyas are actually No. 31 in the land in rebounding margin and they are elite at No. 6 in defensive rebounding. Georgetown only uses four frontcourt players in their regular rotation but three of them are 6-9 or larger.
Needless to say, whichever team can control the glass should win this game.
Another critical frontcourt factor will be fouls and fatigue. Georgetown relies on the highest percentage of starters minutes of any team in the nation, with four guys playing more than 83 percent of the total minutes for this team. Because the Hoyas have a thin bench it will be important for them to maintain their intensity for 40 minutes while also keeping their best player, Greg Monroe, on the floor. If Monroe, the 6-11 center and unquestioned best player on this Hoyas club, gets into foul trouble this one could get ugly.
While the marquee players for each team, Monroe for Georgetown and Stanley Robinson for Connecticut, reside in the frontcourt another key determinant in this game will be which club's guards perform better.
Georgetown has the edge in overall productivity out of its backcourt. Chris Wright (14.4), Austin Freeman (14.1) and Jason Clark (10.6) each average double-figures in scoring and all three players shoot 38 percent or better from three-point land. The trio has also been instrumental in helping the Hoyas become one of the most efficient offenses in the country (No. 11 in field goal percentage, No. 86 in three-point shooting, and No. 80 in free throws) while also being one of the toughest defenses (No. 12 scoring, No. 20 field goal defense) in the nation.
For Connecticut, sophomore point guard Kemba Walker has been thrust into the role of floor leader and hasn't been that bad (12.9 points, 5.9 assists and a nearly 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio). Off-guard Jerome Dyson is also the team's leading scorer at 19.9 points per game while serving as one of their top perimeter threats.
The problem for Connecticut is that they have zero depth behind Walker and Dyson and that both players can be prone to stretches of shoddy ball handling and inconsistent shooting. Neither player shoots better than 41 percent from the floor and they combine to average about seven turnovers per game. Fatigue could be a factor in their issues, as they are the only guards on the roster that average more than nine minutes per game and the only backcourt players in the top eight in scoring.
The edge in this game has to go to Georgetown because they are at home and because they have at least beaten a Top 50 team (although Connecticut's average loss to Duke, UK and UC was by less than five points per game). The Huskies are playing just their second true road game and they are facing a team that shouldn't be bothered by Connecticut's size and physicality. The Hoyas have a better stable of guards and they execute their Princeton offense better than UConn's throw-it-at-the-basket-and-get-an-offensive-rebound attack.
Georgetown has also won three straight in the series and the home team has won the game in five of the last six meetings. There was no line released at the time this article was written but I expect that it will be around Georgetown -4.5. Now, the underdog is a solid 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings but the average spread in those games was around -10.0.
The Huskies are 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to Georgetown and the Hoyas are just 9-19-1 ATS in their last 29 games overall (7-19 ATS in conference play).
No matter which team wins, the victor may actually become a loser at the window as a result of their performance. Since we've established that both of these teams are slightly overrated at the moment and that neither has been particularly strong at the window I think we've got a spot here where the winning team will become even more inflated while the loser will "get a pass" on losing to such "a good team". Regardless, a gambler's best bet might even be to sit this game out and then reap the benefits of fading both teams in the aftermath of what should be one of the more competitive games of the weekend.
Robert Ferringo is a professional handicapper and he has gained around +160 Units and $12,000 for his $100 bettors since mid-February in college basketball. You can purchase his college basketball picks here.
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