Huskies Defeat Louisville, Win Big East Tournament

Has it really been a month since I’ve written anything?

First of all, congratulations to both the Women’s and Men’s basketball teams for their Big East Tournament championships!

The Women’s title, of course, was not a surprise.  Having completed another undefeated conference season, it would have been a surprise if the Huskies didn’t take the title.

The Men’s title, on the other hand, comes as a surprise.  The Huskies basically staggered down the stretch, going 9-9 in conference after posting a perfect 12-0 non-conference record.  They let several games slip away in the final minutes, and seemed destined for a meltdown.  Having not won a Big East Tournament game for several seasons, even during the up years, they seemed destined to flame out pretty quickly. Fate probably intervened with a 9th place finish, meaning that the Huskies did not receive a bye, and meaning that they got to take on the last place DePaul Blue Demons to start the tournament — not a very good DePaul team to begin with, and one that was missing their best player, former UConn recruit Cleveland Melvin — and the Huskies were able to break their tournament losing streak.

Next up was Georgetown, minus point guard Chris Wright.  The Hoyas have really been struggling in his absence, so it was a good time for the Huskies to catch the Hoyas.

After that came Pittsburgh, the Big East regular season champion and probable #1 NCAA Tournament seed, coming off of a double bye.  Brimming with confidence, the Huskies fended off an early Pitt run and pulled off the upset.

The semifinal game came against Syracuse, another team that had defeated UConn earlier in the year.  The Huskies pulled off the win against the Orange, earning a spot in the finals against recent nemesis Louisville.

The Huskies had every reason to lose to Louisville, having lost to the Cardinals twice during the regular season, and coming in after having playing 4 games in 4 days.  By all accounts, UConn’s run was already perhaps the greatest run of all time, winning 4 games in 4 days, with 3 of them over Top 25 opponents.  The Huskies managed to find a way to defeat Louisville, capping off what is now surely the greatest run of all time.  In doing so, the Huskies have likely improved from a 5 seed to perhaps a 3 seed, maybe a 2 seed.

There is a lot of speculation about who will get the #1 seeds.  I believe that Ohio State, Kansas, Pitt and Duke will end up as #1 seeds.  I agree with the first 3; I don’t agree with Duke. The Blue Devils have proven nothing to me this year, fattening their record with a succession of home games and against an uncharacteristically weak ACC.  Duke’s record against the Top 25? 3-2.  UConn’s? I think it’s 8-9.

Don’t misunderstand me — I’m not at all suggesting that UConn deserves a #1 seed — they don’t, but neither does Duke.  I’d put Notre Dame or San Diego State up there ahead of Duke.  But the Tournament committee, I’m convinced, will pick Duke.  Then Duke and North Carolina will start the Tournament playing the first two rounds in North Carolina, which seems to be the case, oh, every other year.  They call this “The Pod System” but it should just be called the “Duke and North Carolina Rule”.

It was a sham what the AP and Coaches Poll did a couple of weeks ago, moving UNC up from about 13th to 6th based on one home win over Duke — Duke dropped one spot after the loss.  I’ll bet that the voters don’t drop UNC from 6th to 13th this week after losing to Duke and winnning two games over mediocre opponents.  I also highly doubt that the Huskies will move up that even after their march through the Top 25 this week.


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