The first game of the 2023 Empire Classic today at Madison Square Garden features last season’s National Champions, with the UConn Huskies taking on the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Huskies lost some of their top players from last year’s 31-8 title team, but still have loads of talent.
The Hoosiers lost even more of their players from a 23-12 season that ended in a second-round loss in the NCAA tournament.
Will the Huskies be able to continue their undefeated run in their title defense and cover in the college basketball odds this week?
Here are our free college basketball picks for UConn vs. Indiana at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, November 19.
UConn vs Indiana best odds
UConn vs Indiana picks and predictions
The UConn Huskies are only returning 42.6% of their minutes and 36.6% of their scoring from last year’s title team. However, that team was built on transfer players, and head coach Dan Hurley is ready to replace them with more.
Guard Cam Spencer is averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.0 steals through three games this season after transferring over from Rutgers.
The bad news is that their 5-star recruit Stephon Castle — who was ranked eighth in the country from last year’s class according to On3 Recruiting — is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Castle was averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per game before his injury. That will put a little more pressure on Spencer in his absence.
With that said, UConn has gotten great contributions from a few returning players from their championship roster. Alex Karaban is averaging 17.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 0.7 steals per game. Two other returners are also averaging double-digit points and 6+ rebounds in Tristen Newton and Donovan Clingan.
UConn is a fantastic shooting team and runs an extremely efficient offense that's led to the Huskies averaging 96.3 points per game thus far this season. While their competition has not been great, they are still 2-1 against the spread with dominant wins — their closest game was by 34 points.
The Indiana Hoosiers lost even more from a year ago, returning only 28.4% of their minutes and 24% of their scoring. It could get even worse for them if Xavier Johnson is unable to play. The guard is averaging 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists and is questionable to play with an ankle injury suffered at the end of their last game three days ago.
Johnson is one of only four players that see more than 20 minutes per game and the depth has been a serious issue. While transfer center Kel’el Ware will be a menace to deal with for UConn, the Huskies will have multiple bodies to throw at him.
The Huskies have both the talent and depth advantage and should cover this spread in the Garden.
My best bet: UConn -11.5 (-120 at FanDuel)
UConn vs Indiana same-game parlay
Unfortunately, we do not have many SGP options available, so we'll have to keep it simple.
The Hoosiers allowed 80 points to Wright State last time out and now gon up against one of the most efficient offenses in the country. I'd be surprised to see UConn be held under 85 points, which should make the Over a good play to pair with the spread.
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UConn vs Indiana spread and Over/Under analysis
The Hoosiers struggle to get points quickly and that's a major problem against the Huskies. Indiana ranks 351st in 3-pointers made at 3.1 per game.
They also struggle to win on the glass, as they rank 303rd in the nation at 33.0 rebounds per game. The Huskies don't have one big man to gobble up the boards, but their team rebounding will be an issue for the Hoosiers.
Indiana is not a stellar offense, but they still do average 74.7 points per game and just scored 89 on Thursday. The Hoosiers rank 15th in the country in field goal percentage (54.4%) and 11th in 2-point field goal percentage (64.2%).
With UConn likely to score at least 85 points, we'd only need the Hoosiers to reach 61 points to cash this Over. I think those bets are on the safer side, making the Over a nice play to along with the spread.
UConn vs Indiana betting trend to know
UConn has covered in eight of their last nine games dating back to last season and Indiana has failed to cover in seven of their last nine. Find more college basketball betting trends for UConn vs. Indiana.
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UConn vs Indiana game info
|Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
|Sunday, November 19, 2023
|1:00 p.m. ET
UConn vs Indiana key injuries
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