UConn vs. Marquette NCAA Basketball Preview and Best Bet

R.J. Cole #1 of the Connecticut Huskies. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

The Tuesday college basketball odds slate finds a couple of teams facing an early must-win contest on their conference schedules as the Connecticut Huskies head into cheese country for a clash with the Marquette Golden Eagles. 

Connecticut Huskies vs. Marquette Golden Eagles

Tuesday, December 21, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at Fiserv Forum 

While other leagues are still wrapping up their non-conference schedules, the Big East is already marching forward with its long 20-game slate. Connecticut and Marquette are each playing their second league contest with both the Huskies and Golden Eagles coming off losses in their openers this past weekend, and neither wants to look at the standings on Wednesday morning to find an 0-2 blemish next to their names.

There is a fair amount of difference between Connecticut and Marquette according to the latest Ken Pomeroy rankings; the Huskies are 27th on the chart after falling to 9-3 with their loss to Providence while the Golden Eagles sit 74th following a setback against Xavier. 

Tuesday is the 12th Tilt in Young Rivalry 

The best online betting sites don’t see the matchup quite as skewed as the KenPom ratings. Connecticut opened -2½ before overnight action sent that chalk into the 4-4½ range, and 142½ is your scoreboard target. 

We need to remember that the Huskies and Golden Eagles are just now trying to build a rivalry, or more precisely, taking a second crack at developing a rivalry. Connecticut and Marquette never met until the Golden Eagles joined the Big East for the 2005-06 campaign, and then the Huskies left the league for the American Athletic Conference in 2013 before coming back home to the Big East last season. 

Connecticut won both clashes a year ago and did so by double digits. The Huskies scored a 65-54 win in Milwaukee where they were laying 1½ on sports betting boards and posted an 80-62 decision at home as 7-point favorites. The contest in Milwaukee came up well short of a 135½-point total while the one in Storrs slipped past a 138-point mark. Marquette owns a slim 6-5 lead in the series, all 11 matchups coming as Big East opponents. 

Sanogo Could Return to Action Tuesday Night 

Suffice to say Dan Hurley was not pleased with his Huskies’ performance this past Saturday. Playing in front of a sold-out crowd in Hartford, Connecticut struggled offensively in a 57-53 defeat at the hands of Providence. The Huskies were favored by 7½ on the XL Center floor and suffered through better than a 6-minute stretch during the first half without scoring a point. 

Hurley noted his team got good looks at the basket, but simply couldn’t convert, and also liked what he saw defensively with the exception of some “soft” play on the perimeter. R.J. Cole led the way with 16 points for the Huskies, and Tyrese Martin added 15. 

Martin was playing for the first time in several weeks after sitting with a wrist injury suffered in the overtime win over VCU on November 26. Connecticut did not have the services of Adama Sanogo as the 6-9 sophomore sat for a fourth consecutive game with an abdominal injury. Sanogo will be a game-time decision on Tuesday and was leading the team in scoring (15.6 ppg) when he went down with the injury. 

‘Under’ the Play When Eagles are Home ‘Dogs 

When Marquette took down Illinois and West Virginia earlier this season, the Golden Eagles got our attention. Shaka Smart’s squad has since fallen on hard times with three setbacks over the course of the last four games, though to be fair, all three came against ranked opponents. Tuesday’s tilt against Connecticut would’ve been their sixth game against a top 25 club if the Huskies hadn’t just been kicked out of the AP and coaches lists. 

The Golden Eagles were in Cincinnati last weekend when they dropped an 80-71 decision at Xavier. Despite scoring only two points in the final three minutes, Marquette still covered the contest as an 11-point underdog at DraftKings, and the Golden Eagles can be thankful for Greg Elliot’s team-high 18 points off the bench. It was the second consecutive game the redshirt junior led Marquette in scoring after Elliot netted 22 in the loss to UCLA. 

The line movement in favor of the Huskies is in anticipation of Sanogo returning to the floor. That would certainly give the Huskies a lift, but I’m running a little different direction with my college basketball pick with a play on the ‘under’ which has cashed the last five times Marquette was getting points at home.  

NCAAB Pick: Under 142½ (-105) at DraftKings