No. 1 UConn men’s basketball has now won 11 consecutive games and are favored by KenPom in each of its remaining games this season. With a 92.4 percent chance to take sole possession of the Big East regular season title according to Bart Torvik and a two-and-a-half game lead in the standings, the Huskies won’t want to stumble against Georgetown, even if the battle will come on the road. The Hoyas are still struggling under Ed Cooley as he tries to fix the mess left by Patrick Ewing.
Radio: UConn Sports Network
Odds: UConn -16.5, over/under 142.5
KenPom Predicted Score: UConn 81, Georgetown 65 (93 percent win percentage)
The Huskies took a 37-36 lead in the all-time series with January’s 80-67 win, which will be tied with Villanova for the eighth-longest series in program history for two weeks until the Wildcats come to Storrs Feb. 24.
UConn is 7-0 against Georgetown since returning to the Big East, with an average margin of victory of 13 points. The Huskies are also 6-5 against the Hoyas inside Capital One Arena, the site of Saturday’s contest, and won by seven the other time they entered as the No. 1 team.
What to Watch For
Donovan Clingan missed the first game against Georgetown with a foot injury and Samson Johnson played just 12 minutes with foul trouble. This was one of the first times that the Huskies went small for an extended period of time and neither Jaylin Stewart nor Alex Karaban gave up much size to Supreme Cook or Ismael Massoud, who play the four and five most of the time for the Hoyas.
While Karaban spent most of his time dragging his man outside the arc with a 6-for-8 shooting performance and UConn took more 3-pointers than 2-pointers, Karaban, Johnson and Stewart were a combined 5-for-8 on 2-pointers, as the Hoyas allow the opposition to shoot 55.4 percent inside the arc, which is in the nation’s bottom 20. Meanwhile, the Huskies are in the top 10, at 58.7 percent.
Clingan is now back and has a massive size advantage over anyone Cooley can throw out there. If he can keep the fouling to a minimum, as he did on Tuesday against Butler, then a big game might be in the works for him.
Hold on to rebounds
Georgetown’s offense is much ahead of its defense at this stage, as it’s in the top 100 of KenPom’s efficiency ratings, but the defense is down near No. 300. The Hoyas don’t shoot the ball particularly well, as they’re outside the top 150 in 2-point percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage, but they’re able to extend possessions by grabbing offensive rebounds at a solid rate and getting to the free-throw line. They snag 34.1 percent of their misses, which is No. 40 in the country, while free-throw attempts are 35.5 percent of their field goal attempts, which is just outside the top 100.
UConn is a tremendous rebounding team, getting after its own misses at a rate that’s top 20 in the country, but Georgetown is sub-300 in defensive rebound rate. The Huskies will need to bring that tenacity to the defensive end, where they’re still strong, at 26.9 percent, which is No. 87 in the country, but are comparatively weaker. If the Hoyas aren’t getting second-chance opportunities, then they’re going to struggle against a defense that is excellent at forcing tough and poor shots, with an effective shooting percentage that’s in the top 10.
Don’t look ahead
While Butler is much more spunky than expected and is challenging for an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2018, this is the second in a three-game stretch that passes for weak in the Big East, with DePaul in Chicago looming on Wednesday. After that, the schedule gets much more difficult to close out the season. The Huskies still must play Marquette twice, face Creighton and Providence on the road and welcome Villanova and Seton Hall will come to Gampel Pavilion.
The Huskies have a 70 percent chance to win four of those final six games according to KenPom and are favored in each of them, but this matches the longest stretch of consecutive top-100 opponents this season. They also just completed six consecutive such contests.
A favorable NCAA Tournament path, through Brooklyn and Boston before the Final Four, is coming into even clearer focus as UConn has racked up the wins. Stumbling against a Quad 3 team would not be tremendous for the resume, as each of the Huskies’ losses are Quad 1.