I had a bad feeling during the Senior Day loss at home to Louisville (Feb. 28) that the Huskies would be playing another game at Gampel Pavilion.
A frightening number of turnovers in a critical game wasn't a good sign, nor was two of your three players being honored turning in stink-jobs.
That bad feeling has turned to glad—I'm glad that UConn will be playing in the postseason NIT (Tuesday, 7PM, ESPN2).
There is no question that an NIT berth is a difficult pill to swallow the season after reaching the NCAA Final Four (How's yours going down, UNC?), but it is still good to see these seniors (Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, and Gavin Edwards) get an opportunity to end their careers on a higher note than a first round exit in the Big East tournament.
The Huskies (17-15, 7-11 Big East) open up at home against the No. 5-seeded Northeastern Huskies (20-12, 14-4 CAA) from the Colonial Athletic Conference. Think that pairing was an accident?
UConn is 34-4 all-time against Northeastern, a frequent early season foe. The last time Northeastern defeated UConn was 1985, when their coach was...yep, Jim Calhoun. His point guard on that day? Current UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur. That victory, in all likelihood, got Calhoun the job at UConn the following year.
"Our goal is to continue to play and give it our best," said Coach Calhoun in a statement Sunday night. "Obviously, playing Northeastern has special meaning for me and for Andre [LaFleur]."
While UConn has to feel relieved to be playing postseason basketball, Northeastern is likely feeling pumped. The "other" Huskies are looking to put a capper on a fine season, one in which they placed second in the CAA regular season and reached the semifinals of their conference tournament.
Northeastern's primary weapon is G/F Matt Janning, averaging 15.3 points per game. Outside of Janning, who could probably start for almost every Big East team, Northeastern will be clearly overmatched at every position. The game will be decided by the extremely elemental factor of who has more focus.
Of course, that elemental factor has been the undoing of the 2009-10 UConn Huskies. It should be interesting.
The winner of the "Battle of the Huskies" gets the winner of the Virginia Tech-Quinnipiac game at a time and date to be determined.