Top-five teams with championship aspirations square off on Friday night when UConn travels to Phog Allen Fieldhouse to take on Kansas. Even though the reigning national champion has won every game by double-digits, Las Vegas college basketball odds have the Jayhawks as favorites.
Dickinson vs Clingan Will Be Must-See TV
UConn sophomore sensation Donovan Clingan is coming off his best game of the season against New Hampshire, scoring 29 points on a nearly perfect 12-of-13 shooting night. But the Connecticut kid will face his toughest opponent of the season in Hunter Dickinson. The Michigan transfer and second-team All-American last season has lived up to the billing, scoring 21.7 points per game while hauling in 12.7 rebounds, which is best in the nation. He is also arguably the Jayhawks’ best 3-point shooter, connecting on two-thirds of his attempts from beyond the arc, which could pose trouble for Clingan on the defensive end. One of the keys of the game will be whether Clingan gets into foul trouble.
UConn Undefeated On Backs Of Starting Five
While UConn likely being without projected lottery pick Stephon Castle in something you should keep in mind when making your college basketball picks, the Huskies have found a way to dominate thus far without him. Fifth-year senior Tristen Newton, one of two starters returning from the national championship team, has emerged as one of the best players in the country, averaging more than 15 points and eight rebounds, and just a tick under seven assists – the latter being good enough for seventh-best in the country. Two games ago against Manhattan, he broke the school record with his third-career triple-double. In addition to Newton and Clingan, it is Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer that has led the team in scoring, thanks in part to shooting 47.8% from 3. Despite a stellar starting five, UConn will need contributions from its second unit to stay with Kansas.
Kansas Led By Experience And Efficiency
Outside of Dickinson, the Jayhawks have replaced Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson with the veteran duo of Kevin McCullar Jr. and KJ Adams Jr. Adams, in particular, averages 10.9 points on a gaudy 73.5% field goal percentage. McCullar averages 18.1 points while dishing out 5.7 assists per game. The Jayhawks are a very disciplined squad, shooting 54% from the floor. They’ve only attempted 129 threes, in contrast to UConn’s 178. The Jayhawks will need to find production from outside this big three, as no one averages more than six points.
Rock Chalk: Kansas Hands UConn First Loss
In terms of the aforementioned grudge match, we believe Dickinson’s talent and experience will get the best of the younger Clingan. His ability to space the floor could put Clingan in uncomfortable spots on defense and open up the floor for his teammates to attack the rim without UConn’s best interior defender. And he has the size to square up with him on the other end of the ball.
UConn’s best bet is to shoot the 3 early and often behind Spencer, Newton and sophomore Alex Karaban. But even that won’t be an easy task, as the Jayhawks are better than most in the country in 3-point defense. But this will be a good barometer game for the Huskies, who handily beat a solid Texas team, but this will show if they have what it takes to repeat as national champions.
Will Kansas cover the three-point college basketball spread? Or will the game come down to a final shot? We believe Kansas should be in a strong enough position, on the back of Dickinson, so head to the BetUS sportsbook with confidence.
College Basketball Pick: Kansas -3