Big East Tournament Final prediction: Marquette vs. UConn odds, picks

webnexttech | Big East Tournament Final prediction: Marquette vs. UConn odds, picks

Somehow, someway, Marquette reached its second straight Big East Tournament Championship game without superstar point guard Tyler Kolek. But the Golden Eagles will have to fight the mighty UConn Huskies without him, and I don’t think they have the horses to compete. Marquette vs. UConn Prediction (6:30 p.m. ET, FOX) The final regular-season meeting between these two was played without Kolek. And Marquette showed why it relies so heavily on its superstar point guard. Shaka Smart’s ball-screen offense is as innovative and as explosive as college basketball offenses get. Between Kolek’s vision, Oso Ighodaro’s versatility, and Kam Jones’ spot-up ability, the Eagles can unpack even the best defenses. But without him, Marquette’s offense faltered against UConn. In that final regular-season meeting, the Eagles generated 21 points on 28 ball-screen sets, suitable for a pedestrian .75 PPP. That’s highly uncharacteristic of Smart’s offense, further exemplified by Marquette’s eight-to-nine assist-to-turnover ratio. But, to be fair, UConn’s ball-screen coverage defense is elite. The Huskies lead the Big East in pick-and-roll PPP allowed by a mile (.68), and they showed that in the first meeting. Even with Kolek, Marquette managed 22 points on 29 pick-and-roll sets against the Huskies, which is suitable for slightly better than pedestrian .76 PPP. The Eagles can’t score against UConn either way. On the other end of the court, Connecticut’s elaborate, variable pattern motion offense is too tough to stop for any defense. While Marquette grades out alright regarding off-ball screen, handoff, and cutting PPP allowed, the Eagles are also an aggressive perimeter offense that will get beat by crisp passing and sharpshooting. And that’s what Connecticut did in both meetings, shooting 24-for-56 (43%) from 3. It hurts that the Huskies are an uber-steady ball-handling team, unsusceptible to Smart’s pressure. Additionally, UConn is a dominant offensive rebounding squad, which plays nicely against Marquette. The Eagles’ aggressive perimeter defense leaves the glass wide open, so the Huskies scored 40 second-chance points across the two regular-season meetings. Donovan Clingan should eat on the boards this Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Ultimately, I don’t see Marquette executing its ball-screen-heavy offense against an elite ball-screen coverage defense without its point guard. Betting on College Basketball? Check out the best College Basketball betting sites Read our guide on how to bet on College Basketball Get the latest NCAA Championship Winner odds Meanwhile, the Huskies will find ways to score. They couldn’t generate secondary actions against St. John’s, so they destroyed the Red Storm in ball-screen sets. And if they can’t generate offense against Marquette, they’ll crash the boards and generate put-back buckets or second-chance kick-out 3s. UConn has won three National Championships over the past 15 years, but the Huskies haven’t won a Big East Tournament title since 2011. With Kolek sidelined, they seem poised to take advantage and earn that elusive title in a monster victory. I expect another dominant, double-digit win for the Huskies in the Big East final. Wager accordingly. Marquette vs. UConn Pick UConn -8.5 | Play to -9.5

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