UConn vs. Kansas prediction: College basketball odds, picks, best bets
One of the most anticipated college basketball games of the season tips off Friday night as No. 4 Connecticut travels to Allen Fieldhouse to take on No. 5 Kansas.
This marks UConns toughest test of the season and first true road game.
Like we saw last year, UConns 7-foot-2 big Donovan Clingan is among the most difficult to guard.
He has a great touch for being so tall and rarely turns the ball over. Hes often a matchup nightmare, is a rim deterrent and a vacuum on the glass.
He is top 10 in offensive rebounding rate, and a huge reason why UConn has the nations second-best rate on 2s at 65.9%.
In general, Dan Hurleys squad ranks top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom. They are top 10 both on the offensive and defensive glass as well.
Thats where Hurleys hands will be full Friday night. Kansas sports one of the best players in the country in Michigan transfer and 7-foot-2 center Hunter Dickinson.
Hes a do-it-all big, averaging 21.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. He can stretch the floor and has great touch on passes too.
Few can actually contain Dickinson, whom with Dajuan Harris at the point have created a dominant offense in Lawrence.
Kevin McCullar Jr. #15 of the Kansas Jayhawks. Getty ImagesBecause of constant double teams on Dickinson and the crisp passing ability of Harris (7.4 assists per game), KU is able to pick apart defenses with cuts.
ShotQuality has a 1.59 PPP grade for KU on cuts eighth-best in the country a shot type the Jayhawks rely on for offensive success.
KJ Adams and Kevin McCullar are physical forwards who thrive in such areas.
McCullar has been a huge bright spot. He averages 18.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.
In general, Kansas is the No. 1 team in the country in A/FGM. A lot of that has to do with the need for opponents to double Dickinson.
As expected, the Jayhawks are elite defensively. They are fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency and 10th in 2-point defense, per KenPom.
UConn’s Donovan Clingan. Getty ImagesWhile UConn funnels opponents into the paint, Kansas defense regularly forces foes into late shots and oftentimes those come from the perimeter.
UConn shoots 3s on more than 40 percent of its possessions behind the trio of Tristen Newton, Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban.
This is Connecticuts first real test this season and one that will take place in a raucous Allen Fieldhouse.
Normally teams cannot control the 7-foot-2 Clingan, but I actually think Dickinson holds a clear advantage.
Not only can Dickinson pull Clingan out of the paint he can hit 3s at a consistent rate but thatll in turn allow for Adams and McCullar to attack the rim frequently.
If Clingan finds himself in foul trouble, this could quickly turn disastrous for UConn.
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Kansas depth is its biggest concern, and against a physical Huskies squad the potential for foul trouble is always there.
But the Jayhawks rank inside the top 20 in FTA/FGA. They are disciplined especially the big three of Harris, Dickinson and McCullar.
This is going to be a back-and-forth contest between two brutes exchanging blows. If UConn can heat up from the perimeter, KU can quickly find itself playing catch-up something the Jayhawks dont want to do against Hurleys squad.
Given the homecourt advantage and the fact that Dickinson could be a game-changer against Clingan, Im backing Kansas on Friday night.
Eastern Illinois was an obvious sandwich spot for the Jayhawks, who have their eyes on taking down the defending national champs.
Now is their time.
Pick: Kansas -2 (play to -3.5) (-115, BetMGM)
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