Big East Rivals Clash in Storrs: Syracuse Orange at Connecticut Huskies

#2 Syracuse Orange at Connecticut Huskies
Harry A. Gampel Pavilion – Storrs, Connecticut
Saturday, February 25, 2012, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Syracuse -4 1/2
Current Line: Syracuse -4 1/2
Opening Total: 130
Current Total: 131
Opening Money Line: Syracuse -240 / UConn +200
Current Money Line: Syracuse -220 / UConn +180

The reeling UConn Huskies host #2 Syracuse Saturday night in a must win game for the Huskies. The Orange are 4.5 point favorites.

The 17-10 Connecticut Huskies are struggling right now. The Huskies have gone 3-7 in their last ten games, and put themselves in a similar situation  to last season when they had to win 5 games in 5 days to win the Big East tournament. We all know what happened after that, as the Huskies rode a red hot Kemba Walker all the way to the national title, the third for coach Jim Calhoun. However, this year the Huskies  don’t have Walker and might not have Calhoun who is out indefinitely with spinal stenosis. Calhoun will undergo surgery on Monday. The Huskies won a tough game at Villanova 73-70 in overtime Monday night to move to 7-8 in conference, which would be ninth right now. The top 8 teams get byes in the Big East tournament.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Huskies as they host the #2 28-1 Syracuse Orange who are 15-1 in conference, two games ahead of Marquette. The Orange have won 8 games in a row and will clinch the Big East outright regular season title with a win tonight.  Syracuse survived an upset bid at home Wednesday night against South Florida 56-48.

Syracuse is coached by Jim Boeheim. The only loss for the Orange came at Notre Dame. Syracuse has wins over Manhattan, Virginia Tech, Stanford, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Marshall, George Washington, NC State, Bucknell, Tulane, Seton Hall, Depaul, Providence twice, Marquette, Villanova, Pitt, Cincinnati, West Virginia, St. John’s, Georgetown, Louisville, and Rutgers.  Syracuse leads the series 51-36 against UConn, and has won 3 straight. The Orange beat the Huskies 85-67 in the Carrier Dome 2 weeks ago.

The interim coach for UConn is George Blaney while Calhoun recovers. The Huskies have wins over Florida St, Arkansas, Harvard, South Florida, St. John’s, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, and DePaul. Connecticut has losses to Central Florida, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Louisville, and Marquette.

Syracuse is outscoring opponents 77-61 this season. The Orange are shooting 47.6% from the field including 34.6% on 3 point shots. Syracuse is in the top 40 nationally in both scoring and field goal percentage. Syracuse makes 69.9% of their free throws. The Orange average 35.4 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of -0.6. Syracuse averages 16.4 assists, 10.5 turnovers, 9.9 steals, and 7.1 blocks a game. Orange opponents shoot 38.5% from the field, including 31.3% from 3 point range. Syracuse is #12 in opponents’ field goal percentage.  Syracuse forces 17.2 turnovers a game.

Syracuse forward Kris Joseph averages 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. He is the leading scorer for the Orange and is shooting 36.4% from 3 point range. Dion Waiters averages 11.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2 steals a game to lead the team.  He is shooting 33.3% from 3 point range.  C.J. Fair averages 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game to tie for the team lead. Brandon Triche averages 9.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Scoop Jardine averages 8.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5 assists to lead the team, and 1.4 steals a game. James Southerland averages 6.6 points, and 2.9 rebounds a game.   Fab Melo leads the team in rebounds with 5.5 and blocks with 3.1 a game.

Connecticut is outscoring opponents 69-64 this season. The Huskies are shooting 45.4% from the field and 32.9% from 3 point range. UConn makes 67% of their free throws. The Huskies average 38 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +4.3. UConn averages 13.2 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 6.4 blocks a game. Husky opponents are shooting 38.3% from the field, and 35.2% from 3 point range. UConn is #10 in opponents’ field goal percentage. The Huskies force 11.4 turnovers a game.

UConn sophomore guard/forward Jeremy Lamb averages 17.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. He makes 33.5% of his three point shots. Shabazz Napier averages 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.7 steals a game. He leads the Huskies in assists and steals. He is shooting 34.4% from 3 point range. Ryan Boatright averages 10.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Andre Drummond averages 9.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Guard Brendan Allen is questionable with an ankle injury. Center Michael Bradley is out indefinitely with an ankle injury.

UConn is 8-14-1 ATS and the total is 9-14 this season. Syracuse is 16-12 ATS and the total is 12-15-1 this season. The road team and underdog are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 in this series. The Orange are 8-3 in Saturday games and in road games against teams with winning home records, 16-6 as a road favorite, 10-4 after failing to cover, 20-8-1 as a road favorite of 6.5 points or less, 1-4 as a favorite, after a straight up win, against teams with winning records, overall, and in Big East games. The Huskies are 4-0 ATS as a home underdog of 6.5 points or less, 12-4 as an underdog of 6.5 points or less, 19-8 as an underdog, 7-3 at home against teams with winning road records, 2-6-1 in Big East games, 2-7-1 overall 1-4 after a straight up win, and 1-6 against teams with winning records.

When healthy Syracuse is one of the most dominant teams in the country along with Kentucky. The Orange are playing at their peak right now, and I think they win a close game on the road.

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