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No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 4 UConn preview, picks for second round of 2023 NCAA Tournament

The Gaels and the Huskies meet at MVP Arena in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

UConn Huskies forward Adama Sanogo (21) reacts during a timeout against the Iona Gaels during the second half at MVP Arena. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pick

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.