It's the Empire Classic Championship when the No. 19-ranked Texas Longhorns meet the defending champion No. 5-ranked UConn Huskies.
The Huskies made light work of Indiana yesterday to advance to this final, taking the lead early and never looking back in what was ultimately a 20-point victory.
Things were different for Texas and much closer than expected against Louisville. The Horns benefited from some controversial officiating down the stretch and won by a single point when Max Abmas hit a well-defended pull-up jumper as time expired.
That leaves us with a great matchup between two Top-20 teams. I break down the college basketball odds and give you my free college basketball picks in my UConn vs. Texas preview for Monday, November 20.
UConn vs Texas best odds
UConn vs Texas picks and predictions
Although we came up just two points short of cashing our best bet on Max Abmas yesterday, I was undoubtedly far off on my handicap of Texas and Louisville.
I was shocked by a few things. The most obvious among them was how close the game was, but in general, the amount of freedom Louisville guards had to move around without much ball pressure.
The matchup said more about where the Texas Longhorns are now than Louisville's improvements. Texas certainly missed its fair share of open shots, but that's secondary to how bad its defense was.
Although I have some questions about the UConn Huskies' depth and their ceiling as we advance, that may not come into play against what appears to be a fairly overrated Longhorns team. That's why I'm rolling with the Over on UConn's team total of 75.5 as my best bet.
Yesterday, Louisville ran 27 pick-and-roll sets and scored 1.33 points per possession on them. In addition, it ran 19 spot-up sets and scored 1.5 points per possession. Maybe it was just a good night for the Louisville guards, but that should set off alarm bells for Texas.
This is a Louisville team that came in ranked in the Bottom 10% of college basketball in efficiency in pick-and-roll sets. In addition, it's a team that's yet to show all season that it has viable spot-up shooters. It needed wide-open looks to score on Texas from jump shots, and it got them — that's not good for what's to come.
Last season, UConn had one of college basketball's most elite spot-up shooting teams. Although it lost plenty from that roster, it still has a plethora of lethal shooters. Cam Spencer has started the season hot with an eFG of just over 59%. Although he's been cool this season, Alex Karaban showed last season in a limited sample that he can stretch out a defense as he finished in the Top 5% of college basketball in spot-up shooting.
Where I like the Huskies' chances to score in bounces is off its guards' simple dribble penetration. As mentioned above, the alarm bells were early and often for Texas yesterday.
Louisville's guards repeatedly blew by their primary defenders, got into the lanes, and either scored or were fouled. Today, Texas will face guard play that is simply more talented, efficient, and littered with big-game experience.
Consider a player like Tristen Newton. The starting guard helped lead the Huskies to a championship last season. He has started his senior year with an incredible average of over 17 points and is coming off a 23-point outing yesterday against Indiana.
If Texas had trouble stopping Louisville's guards last season, it's natural to say they'll find it nearly impossible to contain him. That's problematic, and it should lead UConn to post a large number on the scoreboard tonight.
My best bet: UConn team total Over 75.5 (-110 at DraftKings)
UConn vs Texas same-game parlay
We're taking our best bet and pairing it with two player props in what should go nicely with what we expect to be a high-scoring affair.
The first leg of these is Newton Over 14.5 points. He should be able to get to the basket at will. We may see some passes out of him collapsing the defense, but this line still needs to be higher.
We're going back to the well here with Abmas' points total. We took it yesterday and were greeted with a horrendous shooting performance. Even with that, this prop has gone up by a point. That tells me that oddsmakers think the same thing I do: We get a bounceback shooting performance here.
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UConn vs Texas spread and Over/Under analysis
No upset is expected here. Texas should be able to do a decent job on the offensive side of things; its backcourt will be able to score on pretty much any team it faces, but it could be much better on the defensive end, and the continued absence of Dylan Disu doesn't help that.
I don't have an opinion on the spread here, as this number was aligned very closely with my projection. With that said, UConn's experience and team talent will win out here.
In line with the thinking on my team total Over, I placed a unit on the Over of 143.5.
I've spoken succinctly about why I expect Connecticut to have success scoring here, so let's visit the other side. Texas can take advantage of some of the lack of frontcourt depth that the Huskies have. It should be able to do a good job getting to the rim, and I'm curious to see if the Huskies rim protection suffers some today.
Donovan Clingan missed a whole summer with an injury and is now just getting back into game shape. Never mind if he can stay on the floor, do we see a drop-off when he is on the floor in a back-to-back? Particularly on defense? It's enough of an edge here for me to be on the Over.
UConn vs Texas betting trend to know
Connecticut has hit the first-half Over in 21 of its last 35 games (+6.05 units / 15% ROI). Find more college basketball betting trends for UConn vs. Texas.
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UConn vs Texas game info
|Location:||Madison Square Garden, New York, NY|
|Date:||Monday, November 20, 2023|
|Tip-off:||7:00 p.m. ET|
UConn vs Texas key injuries
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