Sweet 16 Bets: Edwards bullish on UConn vs. San Diego St.

Sweet 16 Bets: Edwards bullish on UConn vs. San Diego St.

As of early Monday afternoon, most betting shops had UConn (33-3 straight up, 24-12 against the spread) installed as a 10.5 or 11-point favorite for Thursday’s East Region semifinal matchup vs. San Diego St. in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament finals. The total was 136 points, and the Aztecs were +475 on the money line at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.

Tip-off at TD Garden in Boston, MA., is scheduled for 7:39 p.m. Eastern on TBS.

Like I’ve been saying for months, I don’t think anybody has anything for the defending national champions if they’re playing well. Now obviously in a one-and-done situation like the NCAA Tournament, anything can happen on any given night.

But unless UConn has a disastrous performance or an injury and/or foul trouble alters the course of the game, I fully expect it to advance past San Diego St. and into the East Region finals.

Dan Hurley’s team has won nine consecutive games since losing at Creighton on Feb. 20, going 8-1 ATS during this stretch. Seven of those nine wins have been by margins of 16 points or more.

UConn has won by 13 points or more in 23 of its 33 wins and 25 of its victories have been by double-digit margins.

The Huskies have made themselves at home in New York City the past two weekends. For the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City from March 14-16, they beat Xavier 87-60 before holding off St. John’s 95-90 in the semifinals.

UConn pulled away from Marquette for a 73-57 win in the finals as a 9.5-point ‘chalk.’

Hurley had his squad clicking on all cylinders at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies jumped out to a 50-15 lead on 16th-seeded Stetson and cruised to a 91-52 win as 27.5-point favorites.

On Sunday vs. Northwestern, UConn led 40-18 at halftime, 55-27 at one point and coasted to a 75-58 win as a 13.5-point favorite. The Wildcats had played 33 games before facing the Huskies in the Round of 32, and they had only lost by double digits once previously (at Illinois).

How good are the Huskies? Well, they were an atrocious 3-of-22 from 3-point land (13.6%) vs. Northwestern and still won by 17 points. Even while throwing up bricks from beyond the arc, UConn still went ‘over’ its Team Totals in both the first half (35.5 or 36) and the game (74.5).

Tristen Newton led the way on Sunday with 20 points, three rebounds, two steals and 10 assists compared to three turnovers. Donovan Clingan finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots, and Cam Spencer contributed 11 points, four boards, four assists and three steals.

San Diego St. (26-10 SU, 14-19-1 ATS) won a 69-65 decision over UAB as a 6.5-point ‘chalk’ in a hotly contested first-round game on Friday. Then in Sunday’s late game, the Aztecs blasted Yale 85-57 as 5.5-point favorites.

Jaedon LeDee paced the winners with 26 points and nine rebounds, while Darrion Trammell added 18 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and one blocked shot.

Brian Dutcher’s team will be looking to avenge a 76-59 loss to UConn in last year’s title game. It’s not going to happen, though.

PREDICTION #1: UConn -10.5 for two units.
PREDICTION: #2: UConn -5.5 (-112 price at BetRivers) in the first half for one unit.
PREDICTION #3: UConn Team Total ‘over’ 73.5 points (-114 at FanDuel) for one unit.

Here’s my reasoning on the Team Total:

UConn has scored at least 74 points in 28 of its 36 games. The Huskies average 81.6 points per game to rank #21 in the nation in scoring, and they’re fifth in the country in field-goal percentage (49.8%).

KenPom has Dan Hurley’s team ranked #2 nationally in offensive efficiency, #4 in two-point percentage (59.2%), #5 in effective FG percentage (57.2%) and #15 in offensive rebounding percentage.

The Aztecs are an outstanding defensive team, giving up 74 points or more just nine times in 36 games. However, they haven’t faced a foe of UConn’s ilk with weapons like Newton (15.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 6.2 APG & 1.0 SPG), Spencer (14.4 PPG, 44.0% 3-pointers, 91.5% free throws, 4.5 RPG, 3.6 APG & 1.4 SPG), Alex Karaban (13.7 PPG, 38.7% 3P’s & 4.9 RPG), Clingan (12.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG & 2.4 BPG) and Stephon Castle (10.8 PPG).