The UConn Huskies have overcome a lot in the 2011-12 season, most notably the health of their head coach, Jim Calhoun.
Now they’ll almost assuredly have to get past the top-ranked team in the country in the Round of 32 in order to successfully defend their national championship.
The Huskies were given a No. 9 seed, which was predicted by many of the expert bracketologists, even though they only managed an 8-10 record within their own conference. However, despite the surprisingly high seed given their record, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee made it clear to the Huskies that their notoriety and strength of schedule alone wasn’t going get them an easy ride into the Sweet 16.
As a result, Anthony Davis and the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats will likely await UConn, and that’s if they can get past the eight-seeded Iowa State Cyclones in their opening game, which is far from a guarantee.
There is always an intrigue surrounding the average teams in the power conferences at selection time, and the Big East is certainly the ultimate power conference at the moment. You could call it the SEC of NCAA basketball, as there is so much depth throughout the 16-team conference that just about any team can beat any other team on any given night, a fact that’s proven year after year in the postseason conference tournament.
For that reason, and that reason alone, UConn was given the benefit of the doubt by the committee and was almost guaranteed a spot in the tournament. Of course, it helps when you’re able to win three of your final four games and take the No. 1 seed in the East Region, the Syracuse Orange, to overtime in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.
So now that the defending champs are in the tournament, what are their chances of doing anything in it?
Can they pull off an upset over Kentucky in the round of 32?
Most experts don’t think so. In fact, every single bracket I’ve seen from a college basketball insider is picking Kentucky to make it to the Final Four, which means that UConn won’t make it past the opening weekend of the tournament.
This doesn’t mean the Huskies don’t have a shot to pull off the upset, though. As you’re about to find out, there are a few experts who feel they match up as well as anyone against the Wildcats.