UConn men’s basketball starts up again Friday night. In anticipation of what should be an exciting season for the Huskies, The UConn Blog cooks up some takes on imaginary prop bets for the upcoming season.
Over/Under 14.5 points per game for Christian Vital
Daniel Connolly: Over. This is Christian Vital’s team, both on and off the court. He’s the most experienced player on UConn’s roster and has only gotten better every season of his career. With Alterique Gilbert handling point guard duties and Jalen Adams gone, Vital should be the Huskies’ go-to scorer.
Dan Madigan: I’ll say under, but barely. Vital will score in bunches, but I think this offense will be more spread out across Gilbert, Josh Carlton, Tyler Polley and others.
Tucker Warner: Over. Vital’s minutes should increase, so there’s no reason for his points to not increase with it. That said, this offense is going to be a lot less focused around certain players this year. The two lead guards are still going to be the leading scorers unless Akok Akok is even better than we all think, but they won’t have to force nearly as many shots this year—the rest of the team is just better equipped to help out.
Luke Swanson: Over. At the risk of sounding cliche, Vital is this team’s emotional leader of the squad and, like others have mentioned, his minutes are going up. In come lineups, he’ll be the lead guard and focal point of the offense.
Over/under 4 assists per game for Alterique Gilbert
Connolly: Over. I think Alterique is finally going to have the type of season we’ve been hoping for. He’s the best passer on the team by far and should have close to a monopoly on the minutes at point guard.
Tucker: Over again! With Jalen Adams having left, Gilbert is going to be the leader of the offense, and although Vital can certainly handle the rock, he’s not going to be the primary ballhandler. With Gilbert now managing the Distribution department, he’ll be stacking up dimes.
Luke: Over. I think continuity with Gilbert on the court will help the offense in general, which will make his assist total go up. He’ll be playing on the ball more than ever with Jalen Adams out of the picture, and he’s now the undisputed best passer and distributor on the team, so 4 assists per game seems like small potatoes for him.
Madigan: Over. Gilbert is going to have the ball in his hands a lot this year and should have plenty of open teammates that can knock down shots.
Over/under 7.5 double-doubles for Josh Carlton
Connolly: Under. I’m not sold on Carlton taking the leap into becoming an All-Conference performer this season. He could have looked more dominant in the exhibition game and will need to show a new dimension to reach 8 double-doubles.
Tucker: I’ll take the under on this one. I’ve been the conductor of the Carlton Hype Train since he first stepped on the court, but he had just four double-dubs last year, and I think his stats are going to decrease. That isn’t a knock on him, since that projection is mostly because the rest of the team has improved, but the Huskies won’t need a true center on the floor at all times this year. Carlton will still be an excellent player, but he won’t need to put up impressive numbers to make an impact anymore.
Luke: Under. Carlton has only grabbed more than ten rebounds in a game seven times in his career, so it’s tough to say definitively that he’ll match even that this year, much score enough every time to make it happen. UConn won’t need him on the court for 30 minutes a game, given Isaiah Whaley’s projected breakout and the small-ball lineups that Hurley will run with Polley and even Akok at the five. Carlton’s probably the third-best player on the team, it’s just that double-doubles don’t come easy!
Madigan: Over. UConn’s non-conference schedule is very weak, especially to start, feature four opponents below No. 310 in KenPom. Carlton should be the biggest and most talented post player on the court in those games, and should be able to tack on a few more in conference play to get to eight or nine double doubles.
Over/under 38.5 percent from 3 for Tyler Polley
Connolly: Over. I think with better offensive players around him and improvement, Polley can become a dangerous threat from three. In most games, he’s probably going to be the fourth or fifth most dangerous option on the floor which means he’ll get plenty of open looks from three. I like those odds.
Tucker: Under. I think Polley will get close to 38.5 percent, since he was at 38 percent last season, but I also think he’ll be shooting more often this year, and could try to set himself up off the dribble too. Taking on more shots, most of which are more difficult, will lower your success rate. Nonetheless, UConn’s offense will be benefited if the tough shots are more spread out this year.
Luke: Under. Sometimes, math makes it easy for you. Your usage goes up, the rate at which you make shots will typically go down. Making just over seven out of every 20 threes you make is still good, and Polley will still be a weapon from beyond the arc. The 3-point line moving out to international range is worth mentioning here as well, I would guess that the whole nation’s 3-point percentage will take a minimal hit overall this year.
Madigan: Under. Like Tucker and Luke said, the combination of Polley shooting more and the 3-point line moving back will make it tough to beat his 38 percent 3-point percentage from last year. He’ll still be one of the team’s best shooters, though.
Over/under 1.5 blocks per game for Akok Akok
Connolly: Over. I think Akok’s athleticism is going to allow him to float around the floor more than Carlton, who’s more of a traditional post player. While he won’t get as many opportunities as he would as true a rim protector, his Go Go Gadget arms should still swat plenty of shots.
Tucker: Tough one! Certainly attainable, but it won’t be easy. For reference, the last UConn freshman to average 1.5 blocks per game was Amida Brimah, so it’s possible. That said, I think Akok will be tough enough on defense to force tough shots without blocking them, and I don’t think his usage will lend itself to some easy swats in help D. I’ll say under, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong.
Luke: I’m taking the over here. While Akok Akok is building up strength to defend effectively in the post, he’s still likely not there yet. A physical change like that doesn’t happen overnight, and he’s gained under ten pounds since he came to UConn. Until then, he’ll get pushed off the block, maybe even let his man get by him, but use his athleticism and freaky length to keep him on a string and deflect the ball before — or just after — he can release his shot.
Madigan: Under. I think Akok will be a dynamic shot blocker from the start, but i’m not sure he will be able to stay on the court long enough to rack up two or more blocks per game.
Over/under 10.5 conference wins
Connolly: Over. I’ve been pessimistic in most of my predictions so I’m going to say UConn goes 11-6. All the Huskies need to do is go .500 on the road and only lose two conference games at home. That should be doable.
Tucker: I believe I’ve been wrong about this every year since they’ve joined the AAC, and I see no reason this streak won’t continue. Under.
Luke: I’m going to do that classic gambling pick we all know and love and say under. If I’m wrong, I’ll be happy and if I’m right, I get to brag about being right in a meaningless post.
Madigan: Under, unless they can steal at least two wins from six against Cincinnati, Houston and Memphis.
Over/under 2.5 technical fouls for Dan Hurley this season
Connolly: Always take the over on this one. Always.
Tucker: It wouldn’t shock me if Hurley beat this line in only one game. Over.
Luke: Surely you meant in the first week, right?
Madigan: An easy over. He might do this just in conference play.