Marquette Golden Eagles at Connecticut Huskies, XL Center, Hartford, CT
Thursday, February 24, 2011, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: UConn -5.5
Current Line: UConn -5.5
Opening Total: 143
Current Total: 143
Money Line: UConn -240 / Marquette +200
The 14th-ranked Connecticut Huskies (20-6, 8-6 Big East) will be without head coach Jim Calhoun on Thursday when they host the Marquette Golden Eagles (16-11, 7-7) in a key conference matchup. Assistant coach George Blaney will fill in for Calhoun, who will be attending a memorial service for his sister-in-law while his Huskies (-5.5) try to bounce back from a 71-58 loss at Louisville last Friday.
Calhoun was also suspended for three games next season following a recruiting investigation, making it a chaotic week for the team. Connecticut has won its last two home games both straight-up and against the spread though, so playing in front of the fans in Hartford should at least provide the players with some comfort. The Huskies did not play well in the loss to the Cardinals, shooting just 37 percent from the field and failing to hold on to a brief second-half lead after trailing 31-23 at the intermission.
UConn’s Kemba Walker again struggled with his shooting, making only 3 of 10 shots en route to 16 points. Walker had made 13 of 23 shots and scored a game-high 31 points in a 78-70 win over Georgetown in the previous game to temporarily break out of his slump. Jamal Coombs-McDaniel tied him for the team lead with 16 points against Louisville while Alex Oriakhi added 13, but none of their other teammates totaled more than four.
The Huskies seem to be locks to make the NCAA tournament no matter how they finish out the regular season, but the Golden Eagles have dropped five of their last eight games and could find themselves on the bubble with a poor finish. They will probably need to finish at least .500 in league play and have a favorable schedule ahead with home games against Providence and Cincinnati followed by a visit to Seton Hall to close out the slate.
Marquette is coming off a 73-64 home win over the Pirates on Saturday, snapping a three-game slide against the spread. Five players scored in double figures led by Jimmy Butler with 16 points and Darius Johnson-Odom with 13. The Golden Eagles have played their last two games at home after going 1-2 during a string of three straight road games at Villanova, South Florida and Georgetown. They are just 3-6 in true road games this season.
Connecticut has won three of the last four meetings with Marquette both SU and ATS, and the OVER is 5-1 in the past six games between the teams. However, the UNDER is 6-1 in the last seven games overall for the Golden Eagles.
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