College Basketball South Region First Round: #9 Connecticut Huskies vs #8 Colorado Buffaloes

2016 NCAA Tournament
South Region – First Round
#9 Connecticut Huskies vs #8 Colorado Buffaloes
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 1:30 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Wells Fargo Arena – Des Moines, Iowa
Opening Line: Connecticut -3
Current Line: Connecticut -3
Opening Total: 134 1/2
Current Total: 132
Opening Money Line: UConn -185 / Colorado +160
Current Money Line: UConn -165 / Colorado +145

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Connecticut is a 3 point favorite against Colorado in the South region first round Thursday.

One week ago, the Connecticut Huskies were firmly on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. However, the Huskies won the American Athletic Conference tournament to secure the automatic bid for the tournament. The 24-10 Huskies are the #9 seed in the South region and open the tournament against the #8 seed Colorado Buffaloes Thursday in Des Moines. Colorado is 22-11 out of the Pac 12. The winner between UConn and Colorado will face either #1 Kansas or #16 Austin Peay in the second round Saturday. This is the first ever meeting between Colorado and Connecticut.

UConn is coached by Kevin Ollie. The Huskies finished sixth in the AAC but were the #5 seed in the tournament because SMU wasn’t eligible to compete. The Huskies opened an unlikely run to the championship with a thrilling 104-97 quadruple overtime win over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals that featured a game tying three point buzzer beater by the Huskies from beyond half court at the end of the third overtime. Connecticut beat Temple in the semifinals and Memphis 72-58 in the championship game. UConn is making their 33rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including four national titles the last in 2014. The Huskies missed the tournament last year.

UConn has neutral site losses to Syracuse and Gonzaga in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, and to Maryland in New York City, plus road losses to Tulsa, Temple, Cincinnati, and SMU. The Huskies have home losses to Temple, Houston and Cincinnati. The Huskies have a neutral site win over Michigan in the Bahamas, plus road wins over Texas, Tulane, Houston, Central Florida, Memphis,  and South Florida. UConn has home wins over Ohio State, Memphis, Tulane, Georgetown, East Carolina, Tulsa, SMU and Central Florida. The Huskies were 5-8 against tournament teams this season. UConn is 16-13-1 ATS and the total is 13-16-1 this season. The Huskies were 5.5 point favorites against Memphis and the total was 137.5.

Colorado is coached by Tad Boyle. The Buffaloes finished fifth in the Pac 12 with a 10-8 record. Colorado beat Washington State in the first round of the Pac 12 tournament but lost to Arizona 82-78 in the quarterfinals. Colorado is making their 14th trip to the tournament.

Colorado has neutral site losses to Iowa State in Sioux Falls, SD and SMU in a tournament in Las Vegas, plus road losses at California, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, UCLA, and Utah. The Buffaloes have a home loss to Utah. Colorado has a neutral site win over Penn State in Las Vegas and road wins over Auburn, Colorado State, Stanford, and Washington State. The Buffaloes have home wins over Portland, Air Force, BYU, Hampton, Oregon State, Oregon, Stanford, Cal, Washington State, Washington, Arizona and Arizona State. Colorado went 4-9 against NCAA Tournament teams this season. The Buffaloes are 19-11 ATS and the total is 15-15 this season. Colorado was an 8 point underdog against Arizona and the total was 144.5.

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Connecticut is outscoring teams 73-63 this season. The Huskies are #12 in points allowed nationally. UConn is shooting 46% from the field and 36.2% from three point range. The Huskies lead the nation in free throw shooting at 78.7% from the line. Opponents are shooting 38.2% from the field and 32.7% from 3 point range. The Huskies are #4 nationally in field goal defense. UConn averages 36.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.4 per game. The Huskies average 13.9 assists, 11.1 turnovers, 5.7 steals and 5 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.4 assists, 12.2 turnovers, 5.1 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Shonn Miller averages 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Rodney Purvis averages 12.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Daniel Hamilton averages 12.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Sterling Gibbs averages 12 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Four other players will get significant time in the rotation.

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Colorado is outscoring teams 76-71 this season. The Buffaloes are shooting 42.6% from the field and 39.2% from three point range. The Buffaloes are #14 nationally in three point shooting. Colorado makes 73.9% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.9% from the field and 35.6% from 3 point range. Colorado averages 42.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.7 per game. The Buffs are #4 in rebounding nationally. Colorado averages 13.8 rebounds, 13.4 turnovers, 5.2 steals and 5 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.6 assists, 11.1 turnovers, 7.5 steals and 4.4 blocks per game.

Josh Scott averages 16.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. George King averages 13.8 points and 4.8 blocks per game. Josh Fortune averages 10.4 points, 4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Dominique Collier, Wesley Gordon and Tre’Shaun Fletcher all average at least 7.2 points per game. Three other players get significant time in the rotation.

UConn is 4-0 ATS in non-conference games and overall, 15-3 in NCAA tournament games, 36-15-1 in neutral site games, and 2-5 against Pac 12 teams.

Colorado is 5-0 ATS overall, 4-0 after a cover, 4-1 in non-conference games, against teams with winning records, and in neutral site games, 2-5 in Thursday games and 1-4 in NCAA tournament games.

In 2011 and 2014, UConn was on the bubble to even make the field of the NCAA tournament. The Huskies would win the conference tournament in those seasons and went on to win nationals titles in both those season. Husky fans hope history repeats itself in 2016. However, they can’t overlook a dangerous Colorado team that thrives on three point shooting and rebounding. I think the Huskies win a close game.

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