The No. 5 Saint Mary’s Gaels overcame VCU in the first round, and will take on the No. 4 UConn Huskies in a second-round matchup on Sunday, March 19. The game will air on TNT at 6:10 p.m. ET from the MVP Arena. UConn enters as a 3.5-point favorite.
No. 5 Saint Mary’s (26-7, 14-2 WCC):
First round result: Defeated VCU, 63-51
KenPom rating: 11 Overall, 40 Offense, 9 Defense
NET ranking: 11, (2-3 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Logan Johnson, 14.7 ppg
Key stat: Holds opponents to 60.1 ppg (6th in the nation)
Saint Mary’s bounced back from their conference championship loss to Gonzaga with a big defensive win over a tough VCU team. The Gaels held the Rams to just 36.7% from the field. They were able to control the pace, slowing down VCU’s fast-paced efforts and outrebounding the Rams 37-29. Mitchell Saxen grabbed 17 points, and VCU’s top scorer getting injured partway through the game certainly didn’t hurt the Gaels’ chances.
No. 4 UConn (26-8, 13-7 Big East):
First round result: Defeated Iona, 87-63
KenPom rating: 4 Overall, 7 Offense, 18 Defense
NET ranking: 8, (6-6 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Adama Sanogo, 16.9 ppg
Key stat: Scores 78.5 ppg (31st in the nation)
UConn and Iona were neck-and-neck for much of the first half, but the Huskies pulled away from the Iona Gaels (two Gaels in a row for UConn!) after halftime, The Huskies rank very high at KenPom, largely thanks to their high-scoring offense that has scored 70 or more points in six of their last seven games. The Huskies’ offense was led by Adama Sanogo with a jaw-dropping 28 points over Iona.
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Point spread: UConn -4.5
Point total: 127.5
Moneyline: UConn -180, Saint Mary’s +155
Against The Spread Pick: UConn -3.5
Point total pick: Under 127.5
Pick to Win: UConn -180
This is going to be a fun matchup between the Saint Mary’s defense and the UConn offense. I think that the Huskies’ strength of schedule pushes them ahead here, unless Saint Mary’s is able to control the pace of the game against the Huskies.