UConn just released its men’s basketball schedule, and unlike the past 87 years (give or take a few), they won’t be taking on Georgetown, Syracuse, Pitt and…(I’m sorry…..I told myself I wasn’t going to cry).
To quote a line from Seinfeld, UConn’s introduction into the American Athletic Conference has transformed UConn’s normally predictable schedule into a veritable walk in the jungle. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, and I’m real scared.
With so much transition, what can we really expect from the Huskies next season? How many games can they win?
Well folks, the answer is….about as many as they want.
The Huskies have a few tests on the schedule, but could be favored in as many as 29 games.
The season opener against Maryland will be an interesting one, and the venue (the Barclays Center) and network (ESPN) make it a marquee game. But Maryland didn’t reach the NCAA Tournament last season, and that was with No. 5 overall pick Alex Len.
UConn should win that game. They will also be favored in both rounds of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 21-22. The Huskies will face Boston College in the first game, and either Indiana or Washington in Game 2. The Hoosiers will be painfully young with the losses of top picks Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, and Washington doesn’t have the type of talent its Husky brethren do.
Florida provides the first big-time test for UConn, traveling to either Storrs or Hartford on December 2. The Gators are loaded with experience and talent up front, and while they may give Connecticut a challenge, UConn should win that game if for no other reason than the fact that they won’t be the ones traveling 1,100-plus miles to get there.
UConn plays Stanford at home, then goes on the road to take on Washington (strange because they may play them in the 2K Sports Classic in November) before opening its conference slate.
You have to believe that the Huskies will take care of Houston, SMU and UCF, who aren’t even in the same stratosphere talent-wise. That means UConn could conceivably be 16-0 heading into a January 16 showdown at Memphis.
If you’re like me, you’re not sold on the talented-but-soft-as-Jell-O-Tigers, who have had some of the nation’s top recruiting classes in recent years yet haven’t managed to get out of the third round of the NCAA Tournament under Josh Pastner. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see UConn win there, and run its season-opening unbeaten streak to 17 games.
That would set up a primetime matchup againstdefending champion Louisville, in the Cardinals’ final year in the conference, with ESPN’s GameDay crew in Storrs on January 18. (I’m pre-ordering my tickets right now).
There are more speed-bumps along the way (two games with Temple, a home-and-home with Cincinnati and the return games against Memphis and Louisville), but with the way the Huskies played under Kevin Ollie last season, there’s no reason to think this team can’t win 25-plus games in the regular season.
That would earn them a nice, cushy seed in the NCAA Tournament come March.
Now, this may be an entirely stupid exercise (what else is new), but here are my predictions for all of UConn’s games next season:
vs. Maryland–W The Terps won’t be experienced enough to put up much of a fight in their first game of the year.
vs. Yale–W This ain’t hockey.
Detroit–W The Titans lost their best player, Ray McCallum Jr., to the NBA, so any chance of an upset here is gone.
Boston University–W Again, this ain’t hockey.
Boston College–W You really think the Huskies are going to lose this rematch of former rivals? (Also, yes–you get it, this isn’t hockey).
Indiana (or Washington)–W The Hoosiers are too inexperienced and the Huskies of the northwest don’t have as much talent.
vs. Loyola (MD)–W As Dickie V would say, this is Cupcake City.
vs. Florida–W The Gators will provide one of the toughest tests of the year, but UConn should protect its house. (They do wear Under Armour.)
vs. Maine–W Come on.
vs. Stanford–W The Cardinal are up-and-coming under head coach Johnny Dawkins, but the Huskies have too much here.
at Washington–L A 10-0 start might get into our Huskies’ heads, and two meetings could breed familiarity.
vs. Eastern Washington–W Again, come on.
at Houston–W No way UConn loses its first American game to Houston. This ain’t 1984.
at SMU–W This one’s interesting because it’s on the road and Larry Brown is on the sidelines, but it’s UConn against SMU, so…yeah.
vs. Harvard–W Tommy Amaker has done a fantastic job at Harvard, but it’s tough to see the Crimson toppling UConn.
vs. Central Florida–W This was a 2-15 matchup in the NCAAs in 2005.
at Memphis–W Not sold on Josh Pastner, and the Huskies look like the more mentally tough team.
vs. Louisville–W This one’s on ESPN College GameDay, in front of a raucous crowd against the defending champs.
vs. Temple–W The Owls will be a pest in this league, but UConn has more talent and should win at home.
at Rutgers–W No way the Scarlet Knights will have a productive season with everything that’s going on in Piscataway.
vs. Houston–W Again, this isn’t the mid-80’s.
at Cincinnati–L The Bearcats have a good team and it’s always tough to play in Cincy. But this one could go either way.
at Central Florida–W Just can’t see UConn losing to this bunch.
vs. South Florida–W Can’t see them losing at home to USF, either, though the Bulls do have a talented point guard in Anthony Collins.
vs. Memphis–W Again, Memphis isn’t mentally tough enough. This will be a test, though.
at Temple–L It’s tough to win on the road at the Liacouras Center.
vs. SMU–W This has all the fixings of a blowout.
at South Florida–W This one could be closer than the experts think (cue the Lee Corso voice), but still a Huskies win.
vs. Cincinnati–W Huskies #PROTECTTHISHOUSE against Cincinnati.
vs. Rutgers–W Rutgers at home? Hahahaha.
at Louisville–L This is the only loss I didn’t think twice about picking.
Kels’s Prediction: 27-4 (16-3 AAC)
Take that for what it’s worth.