Dan Hurley is making his UConn coaching debut, but should you still bet on the Huskies as a double-digit home favorite?
It's another light slate of college basketball action, but there is one play on the board with some good value. First, let's recap our bet from Wednesday night.
Cincinnati’s defense performed as expected. Cincinnati’s offense? Not good! The Bearcats shot an abysmal 17 for 62 from the field and honestly never looked comfortable on that end of the court. It would be doing a disservice to Ohio State to say that Cincinnati’s offensive struggles were not significantly affected by OSU’s defensive effort. Moving forward, look to both of these teams to be playing in games with enticing unders, as they showed legitimate prowess on the defensive end of the court that opponents will have a hard time overcoming, but struggled to find good opportunities on offense, which has become Cincinnati’s special under Mick Cronin.
Here is our best gambling play for Thursday night in college hoops:
1. Morehead State at UConn (-13)
7:00 pm ET, SNY
This game is UConn’s first official contest in the Dan Hurley era. Hurley, who turned a bad Rhode Island program into one that went to consecutive NCAA tournaments, took over for Kevin Ollie after back-to-back losing campaigns—which had not happened to UConn, a team expected to be competitive every year, since the 1985–87 seasons. A major advantage with the addition of Hurley is that he's a coach who puts a strong emphasis on defense, specifically creating a lot turnovers. Hurley ran a defensive system riddled with switches and double-teams, which led to forcing 536 turnovers last season, the 13th-highest total in the country. Rhode Island also ranked 46th in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency, while UConn was 178th last season under Ollie. The Huskies have the best combination of talent and experience the program has seen in the past three seasons to put Hurley’s high-energy system to use on both ends of the court.
Both leading scorers from last season, Jalen Adams (18.1 ppg) and Christian Vital (14.9 ppg), are back for UConn and have a realistic chance to be one of the highest-scoring backcourts in the country. Morehead State opened the season against Kentucky Christian, a team in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and walked away with a 102–82 win, as the Eagles shot a blistering 53% from the field and outrebounded the Knights 48–24 to get the job done. However, Kentucky Christian started four players 6’2” or shorter and isn't a Division I program, so it is important to take this performance with a grain of salt. UConn’s size alone, starting two players above 6’8”, should cause a disruption for Morehead State. UConn’s combination of length, strength, experience and desire to start the Hurley era strong should propel the Huskies comfortably past a Morehead State team that finished last in the Ohio Valley Conference a year ago.
PICK: UConn -13
Overall Record: 3-1