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The UConn Fast Break - Special Edition
Previewing the Huskies' NCAA Tournament matchup against Maryland. Not affiliated with the University of Connecticut.
As the UConn men’s hoops squad gets ready to play its first NCAA Tournament game in five years, it feels important to highlight the people that made this possible.
Normally, when a college basketball power — something UConn was — falls from grace, it has a major conference and enough cash to get a new coach and upgrade facilities in order to rebuild.
UConn’s athletic department dealt with a lot of instability over the past decade. The American Athletic Conference sunk morale and the quality of UConn basketball with it. Eventually, the possibility of “power five” expansion shifted from being an opportunity for UConn to a threat. Athletic Director David Benedict had to make a challenging decision that was not as obvious to execute as it was for fans to dream up.
UConn needed to move to the Big East.
Benedict deserves credit for steering the Huskies in this direction. Signing up to make football independent in order to give men’s and women’s basketball a better chance to thrive was a risk and it involves a lot of work, but I think he’s correctly estimated the potential payoff.
The excitement is already back for UConn men’s hoops. For Geno Auriemma’s team, the ceiling is the roof. For both, recruiting has picked up and it’s already paying off on the court. The women are penciled in for another five consecutive Final Fours and probably a handful of titles. The men’s program looks like it’s returning to the perennial contender it became under Jim Calhoun.
Speaking of head coaches, Dan Hurley deserves props for accepting the UConn job when the Huskies were coming off of their worst season since the 1980s. Reportedly Pitt was under serious consideration by him and he also mulled staying at Rhode Island. This was how crazy low UConn was all the way back in 2018.
The seniors on the roster who stuck with the team through a coaching change deserve a lot of credit for where this team is today. Tyler Polley, Isaiah Whaley, and Josh Carlton have powered through tough times and emerged to help the Huskies win some big games this year.
James Bouknight, Brendan Adams, Tyrese Martin, RJ Cole, the list goes on. These are all people who committed to something that wasn’t a sure thing. UConn was lucky to get them and now much better off for it.
Even though it’s tragic that fans didn’t get a chance to celebrate them in Gampel Pavilion or at Madison Square Garden, the Huskies are poised to make a run in the NCAA Tournament and they have a lot to look forward to. UConn finished third in the Big East in its first year “back home” and the future is bright thanks to some big recruits coming in.
Here’s a quick rundown of game info and a listing of completely free, non-paywalled articles from The UConn Blog, Storrs Central, The Baltimore Sun, The Manchester Journal Inquirer, and more.
When: Saturday, March 20, 7:10 p.m. ET
Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana
Radio: UConn Radio Network(97.9 ESPN and affiliates)
Line: UConn -3. over/under 130
KenPom Predicted Score: UConn 66, Maryland 64