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UConn vs. Gonzaga: Top 10 matchup provides yet another test for Huskies

The Huskies meet the Bulldogs in a top-10 matchup on Friday.

NCAA Basketball: Legends of Basketball Las Vegas Invitational-Southern California at Gonzaga Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 5 UConn Huskies take on the No. 10 Gonzaga Bulldogs on Friday, December 15. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:00 p.m. ET from Spokane, Washington.

UConn (9-1) grabbed a 101-63 win over AR-Pine Bluff in their latest game. The Huskies have ranked wins over Texas and North Carolina under their belts already this season, and their single loss came at the hands of No. 2 Kansas by just four points. Tristen Newton leads the team in points per game (17.0), rebounds per game (7.2), assists per game (6.1), and steals per game (1.5). Newton averaged 10.1 points per game last season.

Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban each average over 15 points per game, and Karaban and Donovan Clingan each add over six boards per game. UConn ranks fourth overall and fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency at KenPom. The key to their ranked wins this year has come from creating a significant rebound margin — they rank fifth in the nation in average rebound margin. However, their opponent ranks 15th in rebounds per game this season.

Gonzaga (8-2) is fresh off a win over Mississippi Valley State, which provided something of a break after the Bulldogs fell to Washington, 78-73. The Zags, who had come to be defined by Drew Timme over the last few years, now enter a post-Timme era in which Graham Ike (14.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Anton Watson (13.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg) have begun to separate themselves from the pack.

The Zags have defeated USC, UCLA, and Syracuse already this season. Their first loss came against No. 3 Purdue. They rank 12th overall at KenPom and land in the top 20 in both adjusted offensive and adjusted defensive efficiency. In their loss to Washington, they were defeated at the three-point line and at the board in rebounds, whereas in their loss to Purdue, they shot a much lower percentage from the field than the Boilermakers.

Gonzaga is going to put up a very good fight here, but I think UConn pulls this one out. The Zags have yet to defeat a currently ranked opponent, and the Huskies are looking nearly unstoppable right now. The depth of their talent makes them incredibly difficult to effectively defend, which is why they rank 9th in the nation in points per game. Gonzaga keeps it close at home, though.

UConn vs. Gonzaga Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: UConn -4
Total: 153
Moneyline: UConn -185, Gonzaga +154

Pick: Gonzaga +4