Connecticut Huskies vs. Marquette Golden Eagles Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 17th 2024

Even though his team has rattled off 13 straight victories, UConn coach Dan Hurley realizes the next three weeks are going to be anything but easy.

Half of the top-ranked Huskies’ final six games of the regular season are against teams currently in the Top 25, a tumultuous stretch that begins Saturday when UConn faces No. 4 Marquette in Hartford, Conn.

Following the meeting with the Golden Eagles (19-5, 10-3 Big East), the Huskies will head to Omaha, Neb., on Tuesday to take on No. 17 Creighton before returning home to play Villanova and Seton Hall.

UConn (23-2, 13-1) then sees Marquette again — in Milwaukee — on March 6 ahead of its season finale against Providence three days later.

All six of the Huskies’ upcoming opponents have winning records overall, and only the Wildcats are under .500 in conference action.

“The games that we have coming up, the time of year we’re in where it’s championship time of year, you’ve got to be playing your best,” Hurley said. “You’ve got to be playing championship-level basketball, you can’t have many holes in the way you’re playing.

“Or else you get eliminated and sent home.”

That type of championship-level basketball that Hurley was referring to was on full display on Wednesday, as UConn cruised to a 101-65 rout of DePaul.

Alex Karaban led six Huskies scorers in double figures with 21 points, while Stephon Castle added 15 and Cam Spencer chipped in 14. UConn shot a crisp 56.3 percent from the field against the Blue Demons, who sit at the bottom of the Big East and are 0-13 in league play.

“The deep teams are the ones that succeed in tournament play because you could survive one or two guys having a bad night,” Hurley said. “If you’re overly reliant on one or two players, maybe three players and you don’t have that depth, and one or two have a bad night, your season’s over.”

The Golden Eagles also made sure not to overlook their latest opponent, knocking off Butler 78-72 on Tuesday.

Reigning Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek went off for 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Marquette, which also got a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double out of Oso Ighodaro.

“He’s always motivated,” Golden Eagles coach Shaka Smart said of Kolek. “But even more to be his best. Because when you get to this time of year, it’s your senior year, you know that it is go time.”

After dropping three of its first five Big East games, Marquette has found its groove, winning eight straight as it braces for the best team in the nation.

“I think we’ve done a really good job of just keeping our composure,” Ighodaro said. “We’re being us. I think early on in the season, we got away from who we are a little bit at times. I think we’re doing a great job with that. And we’re going to try to keep being consistent with that.”

Saturday will give one of the teams an advantage in the all-time series, as the Golden Eagles and Huskies have played to an 8-8 record.

Marquette won two of three meetings against UConn last season, most notably knocking the Huskies out of the Big East tournament with a 70-68 victory on March 10, 2023.

–Field Level Media

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