It was just nine days ago that Jim Calhoun came back to the Connecticut program. And it was just nine days since he called his team an embarrassment. Well, UConn has heard him loud and clear, because in those nine days UConn has gone from a team barely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, to a near lock.
With wins over No. 3 Villanova on the road and No. 7 West Virginia at home tonight, and yes, even Rutgers on the road as well, the Huskies have clawed their way back up into a stable position with just three games to go before they return to the site of the six overtime game, Madison Square Garden.
Tonight was a great game for UConn and especially New York native Kemba Walker, who had 21 points with fours boards and four assists. Jerome Dyson added 17, while Stanley Robinson poured in 15 for the red hot Huskies.
UConn, which has a No. 2 strength of schedule, has proven themselves to be contenders. They failed to solidify themselves early in the season when they took hard losses to both Duke and Kentucky (both at Madison Square Garden as well).
However, they gained some solid wins against William and Mary, Hofstra, Harvard, Maine, and Iona, all of whom are fighting for the top spot in their conference. They even have a win against then No. 1 Texas; however, as Texas continues to struggle, that win seems less and less meaningful.
The struggles for UConn came midseason when they dropped six out of eight with losses to teams like Michigan and Providence. This is why these wins against top 10 teams are so important. The selection committee likes to see consistency at the end of the season, and with games against three unranked teams, they might just have a shot to end the regular season on a six game winning streak.
They will face a red hot Louisville team on Sunday, a struggling Notre Dame squad, and a mediocre yet dangerous South Florida Bulls team.
Connecticut needs to regroup and settle down after a win like this, and fortunately they will have six days to do so.