It's been over two years since Connecticut, the No. 7 seed in the East Region, has played an NCAA tournament game. On Thursday the Huskies will face No. 10 St. Joseph's in the second round—and a lot has changed since their last Big Dance.
They were banned from last year’s NCAAs for academic reasons, legendary coach Jim Calhoun no longer patrols the sidelines—he retired and was replaced by his protege, Kevin Ollie—and the Huskies are younger, more raw and rely on guard play rather than frontcourt physicality in order to win games.
It's been said before and it'll surely be said again: The Huskies will only go as far as their guards can take them—and that's potentially very far.
When he's on his game, Shabazz Napier is one of the best players in the nation and, combined with Ryan Boatright, the Huskies have a backcourt that can cause tons of matchup problems.
Historically, UConn has been a team built not only to get into the tournament, but to cut down the nets. That may seem like a lofty expectation for this bunch—it's true they are very raw and particularly so up front—but if they get hot shooting at the right time, they're a tough out for anyone.
They don't have the best draw in the East Region, but March Madness if often a crapshoot, and you just don't know what could happen.
But for the Huskies to make a deep run, they'll need to follow this blueprint.