When: Saturday, March 4
Where: Wells Fargo Center — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Radio: UConn Sports Network
Odds: UConn -2.5, over/under 138.5
KenPom Predicted Score: UConn 73, Villanova 68 — 66 percent win probability
UConn wraps up its regular season Saturday night on the road against a resurgent Villanova side. The Wildcats are not up to their usual standards in their first year under Kyle Neptune but have started to get into a rhythm as of late, beating Creighton, Providence, and Seton Hall in their last three games.
This 16-14 Villanova squad is currently likely on the outside looking in for this year’s NCAA tournament, but a win over the Huskies and a deep run in next week’s Big East Tournament could move them into the picture. As for UConn, a loss to ‘Nova on the road won’t change much, but a win in the regular season finale would give the Huskies five straight wins heading into Madison Square Garden next week.
When UConn Has the Ball
The last time these two teams met, UConn handled Villanova in Hartford in a game that the Huskies were more in control of than the score made it seem. Adama Sanogo got into foul trouble and the Wildcats did a good job of forcing the Huskies into a sub-optimal shooting night.
Even with Sanogo playing less and struggling against big man Eric Dixon on both ends, the Huskies got big games from Jordan Hawkins (22 points) and Alex Karaban (15 points) to secure the win. Andre Jackson (10 points, six rebounds) was the only other Husky in double figures.
Lately, the Huskies have been able to count on their stars to set the tone. Sanogo is playing in the flow of the offense, Jackson has figured out how to attack in space, and Hawkins is mostly lighting up despite a down performance against DePaul.
Against Villanova, those three should continue to lead the way and the bench and role players should provide enough to keep UConn in control.
The trio of Joey Calcaterra, Nahiem Alleyne, and Donovan Clingan off the bench and Tristen Newton in the starting lineup has helped UConn return to its early season form. Dan Hurley will be looking to get as much as possible out of the supporting cast in a game that is not do-or-die.
When Villanova has the ball
Dixon was a matchup nightmare for the Huskies last time out, scoring 18 points and adding eight boards. By being too big for Karaban and too fast for Sanogo and Clingan, Dixon was able to get to the basketball seemingly at will with no answer to stop him.
Dixon and Caleb Daniels (23 points) did most of the damage for the Wildcats last meeting, but freshman Cam Whitmore is now fully back in the fold after working back from injury and has now posted double figures in his last three games, including a 17-point outing in the win over Creighton. While Whitmore wasn’t a factor in the last matchup, he remains one of the top NBA prospects in all of basketball and should make a more sizable impact on this game.
Villanova struggles mightily at offensive rebounding, ranking 339th in all of Division I. The likes of Sanogo, Clingan and Jackson will have to key on Dixon, Whitmore, and Brandon Slater in particular to limit the Wildcats’ possessions. If the Huskies can dominate the glass on both ends like they have on their current win streak, where they’ve outrebounded their opponent in each of their games, UConn should be able to thwart any serious momentum from Nova and finish the regular season on a high note.