17th ranked Syracuse visits 7th rated UConn in a key Big East matchup tonight at Hartford’s XL Center. ESPN will carry the game with coverage beginning at 7:05 pm Eastern.

The Connecticut Huskies, led by Player of the Year candidate Kemba Walker, opened as -4.5 point favorites on the NCAA Basketball odds boards, but that number has been bet down to -3. The total is currently 139.5

Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim have combined to win 1,687 games in their careers, 840 of which belong to the former and 847 to the latter. Tonight's game will be their 50th meeting and will set an NCAA mark for most combined wins by coaches facing each other.

Syracuse Orange (18-4 SU & 7-13 ATS)

SyracuseAfter winning their first 18 games this season, the Syracuse Orange have lost four in a row. They’ve never lost five straight in Boeheim's 35-year tenure but they’ll be hard pressed to avoid another setback as they face their third Top 10 opponent in the last five games.

Rick Jackson is the most important player for Syracuse and his performance could very well dictate the outcome of tonight’s game. Jackson leads the Big East in rebounds, blocked shots and double-doubles with 14 and is averaging 13.2 points per game to boot. Junior Kris Joseph has reached double figures in scoring in eight of his last nine games and leads the team in scoring averaging 15.2 points per game.

The Orange will also need point guard Scoop Jardine to step up his game. Jardine averaged 8.5 points and three rebounds in the Orange's first three losses but bounced back against Marquette over the weekend recording his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 assists. 

Connecticut Huskies (17-3 SU & 10-4 ATS)

The Huskies had their six-game winning streak snapped on Saturday suffering a double overtime loss to Louisville. They’ll try to get back on track tonight behind Walker, who is arguably the best player in a conference filled with great talent. Twenty games into the season Walker has guided the Huskies to a Top 10 ranking and is pouring in more than 24.2 points per game. He's hit three game-winning shots this year and is one of the frontrunners for the National Player of the Year award.

Walker has made more 3s (40) than he did all of last season in 34 games (38) and he’s hit three or more 3-pointers in six games this season. Walker has also tallied 15 20-point games, six 30-point games and leads the Big East in scoring. Forward Alex Oriakhi is the only other starter in double figures in scoring with 10.7 points and 9.0 boards per game. Overall the Huskies have one of the worst shooting percentages in the Big East connecting on 40.7 percent of their shots including 28.6 percent from three-point range.

THE SERIES

Syracuse has won the past two meetings, including a 72-67 victory last season. However they haven’t won on the road at UConn since 1999.

Syracuse has actually been better than UConn against common opponents. The Huskies and Orange both played against Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Notre Dame and Marquette. The only common loss was at Pittsburgh. The Panthers beat UConn 78-63 and Syracuse 74-66.

The first half of this game is critical to both teams. UConn is 11-1 this season when leading at the break—Syracuse is 18-0. In the Orange's four losses, they fell behind by 11 or more points before the break.

Trends

The Huskies are 6-2 ATS last 8 games overall while the ‘under’ has cashed in four of their last five games against the Big East. UConn is 11-1 SU and 3-3 ATS in home games this year. The Huskies are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a SU loss. The under is 4-1 last 5 games against the Big East.

The Orange are 0-4 ATS last 4 games overall while the under is 14-6 in the last 20 games following an ATS loss.

Harvey’s take: This is a tough setting for Syracuse. They haven’t won in Hartford in 12 years and I don’t see it happening tonight. Lay the small price and take UConn for the win and cover.