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NCAAB Tournament (9) Northwestern vs Connecticut (1) Betting Preview

Huskies Try to Trend Towards the Repeat

The Huskies (32-3) look poised to repeat last year’s run to the championship after their opening round 91-52 victory over Stetson. The Northwestern vs Connecticut matchup presents a different challenge for UConn however, as the Wildcats (22-11) have had some huge Big Ten wins this season.

Oddsmakers had to make #1 UConn a big favorite here, but -13.5 seems almost disrespectful to the #9 Wildcats. Northwestern did need OT to beat Florida Atlantic but the Wildcats have a tendency to play to their opponents – whether that be up or down. A slight 54% of the betting public are taking Northwestern and the points.

Why Northwestern Has Value at +13.5

Very few people expect Northwestern to pull off the outright upset over #1 UConn in this game but covering the +13.5 is very doable. This is a Wildcats team that has a 92-88 win over then #1 Purdue on their resume, went to OT in a loss at Purdue, and has beaten Illinois – a team that has already punched their ticket to the Sweet 16.

Northwestern had the 4th best defense in the Big Ten this season giving up 68.9 ppg. That’s not a bad number playing in a conference that sent six teams to the tournament and the Wildcats are are playing well at the right time winning six of their last nine in the regular season.

One reason to like the Wildcats getting so many points is because they have one of the best players in the tournament in PG Boo Buie, who is averaging 25.5 ppg between the Big Ten tourney and the opener on Friday against Florida Atlantic. Buie has 23+ in four of his last five games overall, while Ryan Langborg had 27 vs. FAU and Brooks Barnhizer has been consistent with 13+ in six of his last seven.

Why Connecticut Has Value at -13.5

UConn looks like a team poised for a repeat of the NCAA Championship, posting 63 wins in the last two seasons. The Huskies are coming into March Madness with momentum going 21-1 since the calendar year switched over to 2024.

The Huskies were knocked out in the first round in each of coach Dan Hurley’s first two trips to the tournament with the team, but they’ve also improved in each of the last four seasons. This year’s 32-3 team has already surpassed the win total of last year’s 31-8 squad, so UConn seems like a near lock for at least the Elite 8 if not the Final Four.

What makes the Huskies so good is that they just don’t have a ton of weaknesses. UConn ranks #2 in offensive efficiency and #11 in defensive efficiency while Northwestern is 30th and 53rd in those categories.

Free Northwestern vs Connecticut Betting Pick

UConn looked good in round one, but Northwestern is a pesky team that has stayed close with a couple top seeds in this tournament in two battles with Purdue and a win over Illinois. Buie is a superstar and giving +13.5 points to a team with the Wildcats’ style of play is just too many.

Free Pick: Northwestern +13.5

Carl Taylor

Every loss is a chance to learn a lesson. That being said, wins are so much more enjoyable. Follow along to tap into the wisdom I've learned from 20 years as a sports bettor. Follow along on Twitter for more picks and DFS news @dailydogsports.

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