The Saint Mary’s Gaels and UConn Huskies were both teams that could have been on upset alert in the first round of the tournament, but they both got through clean. UConn took down Iona, 87-63 and Saint Mary’s knocked VCU out of the big dance, 63-51. Now, we get a very intriguing matchup for a spot in the Sweet 16.
Let’s check out the odds for the Gaels and Huskies in the Round of 32 on Sunday.
Saint Mary’s vs. UConn odds, spread and total
Saint Mary’s vs. UConn prediction and pick
One of the ways that UConn beat Iona was they pounded them on the boards with Adama Sanogo. Sanogo had 28 points and 13 rebounds in the win and as a team they had a 45-29 rebound advantage.
On the season, Danny Hurley’s group is the No. 1 team in offensive rebound percentage. A lot of winning games in March is earning extra possessions and UConn has a turnover margin of +0.2, essentially even. However, the Huskies are 18th in field goal attempt margin which is a good way to measure those extra possessions and that’s because of their effectiveness on the glass.
That strategy of physically dominating inside might not work against Saint Mary’s. The Gaels with their big man, Mitchell Saxon in the middle, are No. 3 in defensive rebounding percentage, so they’ll mitigate the Huskies edge. The Gaels have a 1.6 turnover advantage and if they can get the UConn guards to make mistakes and turn the ball over, they’ll have the edge.
Saint Mary’s plays with a very methodical pace and I think if they slow down UConn too much, the Huskies have a tendency to take some bad shots. Saint Mary’s is 18th in opponent two point shooting percentage, so I think they’re going to take away Sanogo, as much as anybody can and keep this very close, if they don’t win.
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