2012 Big East Conference Tournament
Wednesday, 3/7/12, Noon Eastern, TV: ESPN
#8 West Virginia Mountaineers (19-12, 9-9 Big East) vs. #9 Connecticut Huskies (19-12, 9-10)
Madison Square Garden – New York, New York
Opening Line: Pick’em
Current Line: UConn -2
Opening Total: 131
Current Total: 130
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
The ninth-seeded Connecticut Huskies started this year’s Big East Conference tournament in similar fashion to last year when they won five games in five days to win the championship. The defending national champion Huskies (19-12, 9-10 Big East) will now face off against the eighth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers (19-12, 9-9) in the second round on Wednesday, hoping to continue their Madison Square Garden magic.
UConn (-2, O/U 130) topped No. 16 seed DePaul 81-67 on Tuesday in the opening round, knocking out the Blue Demons for the second year in a row. The Huskies covered the spread as 10-point favorites behind a game-high 25 points from sophomore forward Jeremy Lamb, who played 39 minutes and also grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. Freshman guard Ryan Boatright added 19 points in 33 minutes off the bench to help the total go OVER in the team’s sixth straight game.
The Mountaineers will present a different challenge for Connecticut defensively, as head coach Bob Huggins’ squad likes to slow down the pace and limit possessions. They have seen the UNDER go 4-1 in their past five games with a 3-2 record both straight-up and against the spread during that stretch. Surprisingly, the OVER is 10-1-1 in their last 12 neutral site games.
West Virginia has won its last two games after going 1-4 during a critical period that nearly cost the team a shot at the NCAA tournament. A 50-44 road victory at South Florida on Saturday may have been exactly what the Mountaineers needed to convince the Selection Committee that they belong in the field of 68.
Back on January 9, West Virginia got a team-high 22 points and five rebounds from All-Big East forward Kevin Jones in the first meeting with the Huskies that resulted in a 64-57 road loss. UConn covered the 6-point spread by the narrowest of margins, as the total also went UNDER in the fourth straight meeting. Lamb also scored 25 in that game while Andre Drummond added 20. The Mountaineers shot just 32 percent from the field compared to 55 percent for the Huskies.
UConn has won three of the last four meetings with West Virginia both straight-up and against the spread and is 2-0 SU and ATS since the return of head coach Jim Calhoun from back surgery.
The winner will meet top seed Syracuse (30-1, 17-1) on Thursday at 12 noon (ET).