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UConn men’s basketball 2020-21 prop bets

Which side are you taking on these UConn-themed imaginary wagers?

Courtesy of UConn Athletics

With basketball back as the Huskies take on Central Connecticut on Wednesday, The UConn Blog is back with one of the staff’s favorite articles of the season. The crew has thought up some imaginary prop bets to get a gauge on how the Huskies will fare in this wild 2020-21 season. Let’s get right into it!

Over/Under No. 17 in the AP Poll at any point this season

Tucker: Over! Let’s get wild! This is going to be a weird season, and there’s going to be a lot of unpredictable things happening, so why can’t UConn get to at least No. 17 in the AP poll? They’re going to be good enough to beat tough teams, and their off games will be both less frequent and against better teams this year, so a bad loss won’t sink them out of the running. Last year, UConn fans spent a lot of time arguing the Huskies deserved more votes in the polls. This year, they won’t have to win over quite so many people.

Luke: Over, I guess? I know this is me being super optimistic that UConn will play enough games to rise to No. 17 in the AP poll, but if Seton Hall was able to end up at No. 15 at the end of the year last season with Sandro Mamukelashvili as their second leading scorer, there’s no reason UConn can’t earn its way to a top-15 ranking by ripping off a solid conference win streak.

Mike: I am going to take the under here. I think they’ll sneak into the Top 25, especially after receiving a small amount of votes in the preseason poll. I don’t see them rising higher than the 20 to 22 spot on the list at the maximum, though. They are coming off a two week break from a COVID-19 positive test, so they’re going to need some time to get back to the place they were before their break in action.

Patrick: Under. The step up to the Big East, the weird COVID-19 season, and tons of question marks over roster roles all add up to too many question marks. Dan Hurley’s teams rely on momentum, and I feel like that will be hard to come by this year.

Poll

Over/under No. 17 in the AP Poll at any point this season

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Over
    (56 votes)
  • 39%
    Under
    (37 votes)
93 votes total Vote Now

Over/under 32.4 percent from the 3-point line as a team

Tucker: Despite losing last year’s top scorer Christian Vital, and not knowing how the most talented shooter Tyler Polley will recover from his injury, I’m going to say over for a few reasons. One is that this is a young team, and most of them are improving. Two is that some of the less good shooters are going to play smaller roles this season, or aren’t on the team anymore. And perhaps most importantly, the third reason is that 32.4 percent just isn’t very good. It was the 227th best mark in the NCAA last year. That’s not great, and UConn can do better.

Luke: Well, this seems like a pretty simple one. UConn’s 3-point shooting percentage of 32.4 percent last season was their worst since 2009, when Jerome Dyson was taking just over four threes a game and making right around one of them. Having Tyler Polley back from injury and a verifiable sharpshooter in RJ Cole joining the team should have UConn finishing well into the 100-rankings in three-point percentage. Ambitious, I know.

Mike: I think this is probably where UConn progresses the most this season. They’ve added some legitimate shooters this offseason in Andre Jackson, an eligible R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin. Much of the early work they were able to do this offseason were stationary drills like shooting and dribbling, which should theoretically translate into an improved shooting team for the upcoming season.

Patrick: Under again. Andre Jackson needs a year to overhaul his mechanics, Tyler Polley needs healthy burn first to get back into a groove. Bouknight is a marked man and RJ Cole has to shake a year of rust off. That leaves Tyrese Martin, Gaffney, and eventually Polley to be the plus shooters. There are no Tulane's or East Carolinas to pad 3-point stats this year, either.

Poll

Over/under 32.4 percent from the 3-point line as a team

This poll is closed

  • 89%
    Over
    (67 votes)
  • 10%
    Under
    (8 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now

Over/under 2.5 postseason wins (Big East Tournament & NCAA tournament, assuming same number of games as usual)

Tucker: Probably under. I don’t see this UConn team finishing in the top two in the conference, which means they’ll only get one game against a weaker team in the Big East Tournament, and at this point I’m also not sure I see the Huskies making the Sweet 16 this year. So I’ll say only two postseason wins and hope I’m wrong.

Luke: I’m going to return to my natural state as a Debbie Downer and say under, because I’d say it’s more than likely there won’t be two postseason games to speak of this year, on account of the global pandemic.

Mike: I am going to be optimistic here, surprisingly, I have seen Hurley’s teams take big games in the past so I’m going to say they can win three or four postseason games. I think they can make a run for the Big East Tournament title.

Patrick: Smash that over, baby! Provided the season goes as smooth as it can, I see the Huskies sorting out early-season inconsistency and peaking at the right time. Give me a run to the Big East Tournament final and one, maybe two games in the NCAA tournament.

Poll

Over/under 2.5 postseason wins

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Over
    (51 votes)
  • 29%
    Under
    (21 votes)
72 votes total Vote Now

Over/under 17.5 points per game for James Bouknight

Tucker: Just under. Bouknight is primed for a great season, but there are a lot of points to be had, especially with R.J. Cole joining the team this year. 17.5 points is a big number for a college player to get to, especially one that isn’t yet a great three-point shooter, and it only gets harder to reach with a team that has multiple scoring options.

Luke: Under, because I don’t see him hogging as much of the ball as other UConn lead guards in the past. Christian Vital’s usage percentage was 26.6 last year, and he didn’t crack 17 points per game. Jalen Adams didn’t crack 17 either in 2018 when he was at 28.5 usage percentage, so what I’m trying to say is Bouknight will need a heck of a lot of the ball to go over that number. With secondary options like RJ Cole, Tyler Polley and the cache of big men who will all get their shot attempts, it’s hard to see Bouknight eclipsing either of those hyper-prolific guards on recent teams.

Mike: Over 17.5 points a game would be a big jump, in my opinion, I think he’ll eclipse the 15 point-per-game threshold but not much further. I don’t think his shooting will improve enough to put him over that marker, though, and he’s going to draw a majority of the attention from opposing defenses.

Patrick: Look if everyone takes the under, I’ve got to smash that over again, right? Let’s say RJ Cole morphs into more a table setter. The rest of the team seems to perfectly compliment a Bouknight takeover. In the words of Shea Serrano, shoot your shot!

Poll

Over/under 17.5 points per game for James Bouknight

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Over
    (23 votes)
  • 65%
    Under
    (44 votes)
67 votes total Vote Now

Over/under 6.5 rebounds per game for Akok Akok

Tucker: Under. Akok got 5.5 last year, and he might be playing more minutes at the four than the five this year, which will pull him away from the basket. This should be seen as a good thing, because if that’s the case, it means he’s become more versatile and harder to gameplan around. He’s a good rebounder, so this isn’t a criticism of his play—unless you’re Dennis Rodman or Christian Vital, rebounding is a product of your usage.

Luke: Under, for all the reasons Tucker said, and the fact that I don’t think any one UConn big will gather enough minutes per game to rack up those kind of rebound numbers, and Akok won’t especially if he’s playing with Carlton for 20-plus minutes per game.

Mike: I think the under is a much safer bet here, especially with the injury in mind. He will also be sharing the frontcourt with a very solid rebounder in Whaley. I wish him the best, but I don’t think his rebounding is going to take a step up.

Patrick: Under. 6.5 is a LOT to ask a slender fellow coming off Achilles surgery. Even if Coach Mike Rehfeldt has Akok packing on muscle, it will take a month or two for his timing to return. Plus, Whaley/Carlton/Sanogo/Martin are all around to gang rebound.

Poll

Over/under 6.5 rebounds per game for Akok Akok

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Over
    (9 votes)
  • 85%
    Under
    (51 votes)
60 votes total Vote Now

Over/under 8.5 assists per game total for R.J. Cole and Jalen Gaffney

Tucker: Even with scoring up, assists in college are hard to come by. The sets aren’t built around one singular ballhandler making a play with the ball in his hands, then dishing directly to the shooter. There’s a reason a great ballhandler and passer is pretty much always an NBA All-Star; they’re hard to come by. Even Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright struggled to reach this mark in a championship season. This is going to be a very good passing duo, but I don’t think they get to 8.5 combined assists per game this season.

Luke: If you add Bouknight into to the mix, this will rocket way over 8.5 assists per game. I actually think Bouknight will lead the team in assists, or at least make it interesting with Cole, as a result of his high usage. Like Tucker said earlier with rebounds, assists are also a product of your usage, and if you have the ball in your hands a lot, you’ll get assists. I don’t think a backup point guard will add enough assists to Cole’s to push them over 8.5 together.

Mike: If Gaffney can average five of these assists, then I would take the over. I don’t think that’s likely to happen. Cole is too much of a scorer for me, even though he averaged 6.2 assists per game his sophomore year. He was the focal point of the Howard offense, the main ball handler. There was no one to split time with him, so he’s going to have to get used to taking a secondary role. Gaffney could supplement that, but he looks to be the clear backup at this point.

Patrick: Love that Bouknight assist take, Luke. And for that reason, I’m out on the over here. It’s not a talent issue, it’s a volume issue.

Poll

Over/under 8.5 total assists per game for R.J. Cole and Jalen Gaffney

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Over
    (26 votes)
  • 52%
    Under
    (29 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now

Over/under 20.5 points per game by season end for freshmen - (Richie Springs, Andre Jackson, Adama Sanogo, Javonte Brown)

Tucker: These projections might seem a little conservative, but they’re based on recent results. Let’s say Jackson gets 9.5 points per game, Sanogo 4.5, Springs 4.0, and Brown (if he doesn’t redshirt) 2.5. That’s...exactly 20.5. I promise I didn’t intend for this to happen. Since there’s a chance Brown redshirts, I’ll say the under.

Luke: Bah humbug, I’m going under. Freshman points per game figures are very difficult to predict, especially in the frontcourt. I don’t think Brown will get enough minutes per game to make a huge dent here, so that means we have to get to at least 18 with Springs, Jackson and Sanogo.

Mike: This is going to be a complete shot in the dark, but I’m going to take the over. I have no reasoning behind it, but I feel like Sanogo surprises us and drops 10 per game off the bench. Between Jackson and Brown, I think they can muster 11 points per game to push it to the over. I don’t think Springs has much of a role on this team, to be honest, but the others I have averaging between 21 to 23 points per game.

Patrick: Under, unless in a last-minute rule change the NCAA makes dunks count for three points. Jackson and Sanogo will contribute, but Springs and Brown are very much projects until proven otherwise.

Poll

Over/under 20.5 points per game for freshmen

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Over
    (11 votes)
  • 79%
    Under
    (42 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now

Over/under 0.5 3-point attempts from Josh Carlton

Tucker: Oh goodness gracious. We had our chance for a Sabonis-type stretch 5 with Eric Cobb; if Dan Hurley didn’t take it then, it’s not going to happen until he gets a proven shooter.

Luke: Over. Just you and me, Carlton. Let’s ride it until the wheels fall off.

Mike: I am basing this completely off Eric Cobb’s performance against Syracuse in 2018-19, slamming the over.

Patrick: I miss Eric Cobb. Maybe the happiest I’ve ever been watching a UConn game was seeing him run the break vs. Syracuse in the Garden. I should seek help. Anywho, I’m smashing the over because I can see the shot clock dwindling, Carlton out on the key picking up his dribble in a botched handoff because the defenders are hedging. He’s lost, he’s alone, he’s confused... and throws up a prayer. Twice.

Poll

Over/under 0.5 3-point attempts this season for Josh Carlton

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Over
    (12 votes)
  • 76%
    Under
    (39 votes)
51 votes total Vote Now

What do you think of what our writers had to say? Let us know your over/under picks using the polls or by contributing in the comments!