Five wins in five days. Four straight wins over ranked opponents. Led by the electrifying, ankle-breaking antics of Kemba Walker, Uconn accomplished something that had never been done before in college basketball. More importantly, however, they got their confidence back; something which had most certainly deteriorated during their lackluster 1-4 stretch to end the regular season.
Having started the season 17-2, Connecticut was looking like a title contender behind Walker's stellar scoring average of 24.4 ppg. Over the last 11 games, though, Walker's scoring average dropped to below 21 ppg along with his field goal percentage, which stooped to an unsightly 39 percent. Not coincidentally, as Kemba's play started to slip, the Huskies began to lose more and more games.
Then the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden came along. As most of you probably know, the kid from the Bronx had a sensational week, averaging 26 ppg to go along with some late-game heroics. If we separate the Huskies' season into these three stages that have been mentioned, an almost crystal clear formula begins to emerge: If Kemba Walker plays very well, Uconn wins almost all of the time; if Walker merely plays well or even sub-par, Uconn is a mediocre team that wins just as many games as it loses.
In an increasingly similar situation to the one facing BYU and Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker must have an above-average game in order for the Huskies to beat the better teams in the country. While not a one-man show by any means (Jeremy Lamb in particular has stepped up recently), Connecticut simply cannot afford to have Walker play less than spectacular if they wish to advance to the later stages of the tournament. With that in mind, let's try to predict the Huskies' Final Four chances by looking at their matchups round-by-round.