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The UConn Fast Break - 3/17/2023
Nervous about the UConn hoops teams in the NCAA Tournament? Same!
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. March Madness is finally here!
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UConn bracing for a challenge against 13-seed Iona
UConn men’s basketball hopes that the third time is the charm, as the Huskies look to win their first NCAA Tournament game in the Dan Hurley era after first-round losses to Maryland in 2021 and New Mexico State in 2022.
UConn has improved its seed each year and earned a spot on the 4-line after sitting at No. 7 in 2021 and pushing up to be a 5-seed last season.
This year, Rick Pitino and 13-seed Iona are waiting in the first round. Though Pitino seems to have one foot out the door in New Rochelle, the Gaels are hardly your average MAAC champion.
Iona has been well-traveled this season and has experience in neutral sites, playing in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii for three games, the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational and Showcase, in Uncasville, Connecticut, and Brooklyn, respectively, in addition to the Las Vegas Holiday Classic. The Gaels also have the country’s third-longest active winning streak at 14.
Despite this, the only KenPom top-200 team on the school’s schedule since Christmas is Quinnipiac, at No. 196, and it’s 1-3 against top-100 competition, with no games against the top 50. UConn will be by far the best team Iona has played.
We will have wall-to-wall coverage on Friday and throughout the NCAA Tournament, with writers and photographers on site. Follow @TheUConnBlog, @StorrsCentral, @AmanFromCT, @ShawnMMcGrath, @DMad1433, @MatrickPartin, and @Ian_Bethune on Twitter, with stories here and on The UConn Blog until the Huskies either cut down the nets or get knocked out of the tournament.
Semifinal Struggles – What went wrong in UConn’s semifinal loss against Marquette.
Huskies seeded 4th - The Huskies are the 4th seed in the West Region for their third straight March Madness appearance.
Takeaways – Roundtable on how far the Huskies will go in the NCAA tournament.
Adama Sanogo recognized as All-American – The junior was honored on Tuesday.
Notes & Quotes – A breakdown after the Marquette loss.
Spicy Nuggets – Read what Shaka Smart and Marquette players had to say about UConn, and our thoughts on whether or not the Huskies should have taken a time-out at the end of that game.
Stats Review – The Huskies ended their time in the Big East Tournament with a semi-final loss, here’s our breakdown on the Huskies’ tournament performance.
March Madness Matchup – The Huskies earned the 4-seed in the West Region and will face 13-seed Iona on Friday.
Fast Break Pod – This episode discusses our thoughts and predictions on UConn’s chances in the tournament and previews their matchup against the 13-seed Gaels.
Big Dance Debuts – Jordan Hawkins and several teammates will be making their NCAA tournament debut, and they are more than ready.
Chasing Perfection – The Huskies are looking more than ready to make a dominant run this March.
Huskies earned 2-seed – The Huskies earned the 2-seed in Seattle Region 3 and are set to play 15-seed Vermont on Saturday.
Post-season awards – Aaliyah Edwards was named an AP and USBWA Third Team All-American. Lou Lopez Sénéchal and Nika Mühl both earned AP honorable mentions as well.
Mailbag ($) – Answers to some of your most burning questions about the Huskies.
Seattle Region 3 Breakdown ($) – The Huskies were placed as the 2-seed in the Seattle Region 3, if they were to advance here’s who they could play this March.
UConn WBB Weekly – After returning to the court for the Big East Tournament, Azzi Fudd is more than ready to make a difference in the NCAA Tournament.
Hockey East Honors – Three Huskies earned Hockey East post-season honors.
UConn’s disappointing end – Even with the Huskies having the best start to the season in program history, the Huskies’ season still ends with a disappointing loss.
Ryan Tverberg signs with Maple Leafs – One of the Huskies’ top players, Ryan Tverberg is heading to the NHL after signing a future entry-level contract with Toronto Maple Leafs.
Down goes Hawaii – After a Friday night loss, the Huskies defeated Hawaii in three back-to-back games to win the series.
Webster’s giving away a trip for two to the men’s college hoops finals in Houston, TX, April 1-3. For a chance to win, just fill out your Big Goals Bracket!
No purchase necessary. Ends 3/25.
In Hawaii, Big East player of the week Bryan Padilla got it out of his glove quickly on this chopper to shortstop to beat the runner and close out the third inning on Monday, featuring a great pick at first by Ben Huber.
In honor of Ryan Tverberg, who signed his pro contract this week, let’s look back at what some have called “The Ryan Tverberg Game”.
The date was Feb. 19, 2022. UConn men’s hockey journeyed to Amherst, Massachusetts to complete its home-and-home series with the Minutemen after being thoroughly outplayed the night before.
Tverberg had four points, with a goal and a trio of helpers on the way to a 4-2 victory for the Huskies over UMass that helped keep their thin at-large hopes alive.
While having a hand in each goal in a win is great, it was notable beyond that.
From our hockey newsletter, the UConn Hockey Hub:
The forward got some nice revenge on some trash talk in a career game.
UConn, Great Pic
A sweet block from Donovan Clingan and some shots from the final men’s hockey game of the year, by Ian Bethune.
The postseason is important. Nobody remembers great regular seasons if they’re not followed up with success in whatever comes after, especially with UConn basketball.
Despite that, playoff success, or lack thereof, is not an indictment of a coach’s ability.
Upsets are as naturally-occurring and have happened to all great coaches. After 16-seed UMBC took down Virginia in 2018, it was clear it could happen to anyone.
In the single-elimination format, the tournament and its one-game samples are designed for craziness and unexpected results.
In light of that, Friday’s game is not make-or-break for Dan Hurley. As 9-point favorites, UConn should win. But underdogs win at that kind of spread all the time on a neutral floor, especially one that isn’t too far from home. The Huskies are more athletic and battle-tested, but Iona has good size and is well-coached. The Gaels are ranked higher in KenPom than St. John’s, which beat the Huskies at the XL Center in January.
Hurley has proven he can build a program and develop a team that’s capable of winning a whole ton of games and the team has improved continuously throughout his tenure. Today’s game is important, but it’s not everything.
For Geno’s squad, championships have been the measure of success. But this year’s team has been through a ton. A Final Four streak is on the line in a field that is as competitive as ever. Anything can happen.
That’s why we love March Madness.
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