NCAA March Madness: UConn Huskies vs. Saint Mary’s Gaels betting preview, odds and predictions
In the 4 vs. 5 matchup in the West region of the NCAA Tournament, the UConn Huskies take on the Saint Mary’s Gaels with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
How to watch UConn vs. Saint Mary’s
When: Sunday, 6:10 p.m. ET
Where: Albany, New York
Odds for UConn vs. Saint Mary’s
Spread: UConn -3.5
(Odds accurate as of Friday, March 17th at 8:00 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
West Region No. 4 Seed UConn Huskies
There was a point earlier in the season in which the Huskies looked like they were clearly the best team in college basketball. Things got a bit rockier for Dan Hurley’s team after a hot start, but this is still one of the most dangerous teams in the country. UConn is very good on both ends of the floor, and the team has two borderline stars it can count on every night: Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins. Those two make up one of the best inside-outside combinations in the nation, and the Huskies have a bunch of other guys that know their roles. UConn is one of only four teams with a top-20 rating in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency. That hasn’t translated to elite play on the floor, but the Huskies did look great in a blowout win over Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels.
West Region No. 5 Seed Saint Mary’s Gaels
Saint Mary’s is an elite defensive team this season, but the Gaels can also really shoot the three-ball. Aidan Mahaney and Alex Ducas are both legitimate snipers from deep, and they’ll make teams pay for any open looks they get. Logan Johnson is also a tremendous two-way player for this Saint Mary’s team, and he’ll be somebody that stands out when you watch this game. However, the Gaels also have another massive advantage over opponents, and that’s the mind of head coach Randy Bennett. He’s arguably the most underrated coach in college basketball, as he continues to put out a tremendous product without having the resources of some of his peers. Don’t be surprised if his team is a lot more prepared than Hurley’s here.
UConn vs. Saint Mary’s matchup analysis
This matchup is way too good to be happening in the second round of the tournament. UConn is the third-ranked team in our VSiN Team Power Ratings this year, and Saint Mary’s is 15th in those same rankings. These are two teams that have the talent to play much later in March, with the Huskies being a team that people believe can win it all.
The thing that made Saint Mary’s special this season was defense. The Gaels were eighth in the nation in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, and that type of stifling defense gives you a chance to win most games. The problem is that the Huskies are also excellent defensively. UConn is 18th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency this year, but the difference between the two teams is that the Huskies are fourth in offense.
The Huskies have a lot more firepower than the Gaels, and that has to be somewhat concerning for Saint Mary’s. The team got blown off the floor by the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the West Coast Conference Tournament final, and the Zags’ ability to make shots was overwhelming for Randy Bennett’s group. With that said, this game could be similar if the Huskies are making shots. And Jordan Hawkins is certainly due for a big day after looking awful against Iona.
It does, however, need to be pointed out that Bennett is one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the country. And considering Dan Hurley is unproven in March, that could make a big difference here. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Gaels were a bit more prepared in this one, and Bennett will also be quick to adjust if things aren’t going to plan.