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March Madness Analysis: Why UConn Will Win

Huskies Eyeing Fifth National Title

Since winning the 2014 national title, UConn has made it to three NCAA tournaments and won just one game during those tourneys. This is a team capable of changing all of that.

UConn was ranked as high as No. 2 in the national polls and moved from three spots to No. 11 in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Jordan Hawkins #24 of the UConn Huskies celebrates after scoring
Jordan Hawkins #24 of the UConn Huskies celebrates after scoring - Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images/afp

Despite a 6-6 record in Quad 1 games, UConn is sixth in the NCAA NET rankings. It is going to be pretty interesting when it comes to making March Madness predictions considering that the Huskies finished tied for fourth in the Big East standings and have a very challenging opening game against Providence in the Big East tournament.

Four of the top 22 teams in the NCAA NET ranking play in the Big East so there will be opportunities for the Huskies to improve their resume before Selection Sunday gets here.

UConn has lost in the first round in each of the last two NCAA tournaments so there will be some pressure when the March Madness bracket gets underway.

The odds to win March Madness has Arizona (+1400) as the sixth-best odds to win the national title so there are lofty expectations for the Wildcats. The odds could improve if UConn wins the Big East tournament for the first time since 2011.

As the March Madness predictions begin to heat up, it is time to look at why the Huskies could win the program’s first national title since 2014.

When making March Madness picks, it should be noted that the Huskies lead the Big East with a 20-10-1 record against the spread.

All the Bases Covered

UConn can score in a variety of ways. Jordan Hawkins is an elite shooter who leads the team with 84 3-pointers.

— UConn Men’s Basketball (@UConnMBB) March 5, 2023

Adama Sanogo has been an overwhelming presence in the low post. Hawkins and Tristan Newton each have at least 100 made free throws,

There have been times when UConn is a little too 3-point happy and that has cost the Huskies some wins. When they are scoring from the perimeter and in the lane, this is a tough team to deal with.

UConn enters the Big East tournament on a five-game winning streak. That included a victory over Providence, UConn’s opponent in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, and a win at Villanova.

The latter victory was especially important considering UConn’s struggle to win on the road against elite competition. That will be freshman on the mind of those making March Madness expert picks.

Sanogo is the key to this UConn team. When he is dominating in the paint, UConn becomes an almost impossible team to guard. He is also a major reason why the Huskies lead the Big East in scoring defense, scoring margin and field goal percentage defense.

Senior Andre Jackson is the leader of the defensive effort. His offense can be a work in progress at times, but the energy he brings when he is on the court will be hard for opposing teams to deal with.

Eighteen of UConn’s 31 games went over the Las Vegas March Madness odds total so it is not just about getting after it on defense.

Transfers Deliver

While UConn relies on Sanogo, Hawkins and defensive star Andre Jackson, the arrival of transfers Tristan Newton from East Carolina Joey Calcaterra from San Diego, Nahiem Alleyne from Virginia Tech and Hassan Diarra from Texas A&M has been pivotal to its success.

Newton, Calcaterra, Alleyne and Diarra are all plus players when it comes to assist/turnover margin so that could play a key role when the NCAA Tournament commences.

There have been times when the transfers have looked like they are still getting used to their teammates. There has been more of a flow in recent games. Newton had a three-game stretch with 21 assists and seven turnovers. Something to consider for those who bet online: The Huskies are 7-0 when Calcaterra has at least 10 points in a game.

UConn can now go nine or 10 players deep and that will be crucial come tournament time when the whistles start blowing.

 

 

Freshmen Making nn Impact

Freshmen Alex Karaban and Donovan Clingan couldn’t be more different. Karaban provides perimeter shooting as he is second on the team in 3-pointers. The 7-foot-2 Clingan is a defensive presence who has blocked at least four shots on five occasions.

Both of them will factor into the odds for March Madness for this UConn team as they give the Huskies flexibility on both ends of the court.

Getting Under Control

Head coach Dan Hurley doesn’t exactly earn points with the Big East officials with the way he carries on during the games. Perhaps getting officials who don’t normally do UConn games could result in more 50-50 calls going UConn’s way during the NCAA Tournament.

The postseason struggles under Hurley’s watch can’t be ignored. However, UConn seems to have all the pieces necessary to make a deep run in the tournament this season.

Keep an eye on this team because there is enough talent for the Huskies to make noise in the March Madness bracket.

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