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Tag:Connecticut Huskies
Posted on: December 5, 2010 2:18 pm
 

UConn Ugliest BCS Team Ever

Someone is going to read that title and make a joke about how the Connecticut Huskies are the worst team in BCS History. Let them joke I say, because no one is going to be able to tell me that my title isn't correct. Last season, UConn lost 5 games by a total of 15 points. This year, UConn's three biggest wins (Pitt, WVU, @ USF) came by a combined 8 points. UConn rarely makes football look "good" like their BCS counterparts in Oregon or Auburn. Or even VA Tech.

UConn doesn't boast a playmaking QB like Cam Newton. In fact in most games this season there could be a legitimate missing persons report for the Huskies passing attack. Connecticut is very much old-school in their football approach. They're going to run the football at you, play defense and win the turnover battle. Rinse. Repeat. See yesterday's game against USF. Jordan Todman was held under 100 yards for only the second time this year, but still carried the ball over 30 times. The UConn defense had three interceptions, including Lawrence Wilson's pick-six in the 2nd quarter, UConn's only touchdown of the game.

And how exactly did UConn win yesterday? By doing the little things. Punter Cole Wagner consistently pinned USF in their own territory as UConn dominated the field position battle all day. Kicker Dave Teggert had never hit a 50-yard FG in his career. He had two of them last night, and for the second straight year kicked the Huskies over the Bulls. UConn's only mistake: a Todman fumble (very questionable, but I'm biased) that USF quickly turned into a touchdown to make it a 16-13 UConn lead. Neither team had a lot of sustained drives deep into their opponent's territory or really threatened to score many offensive touchdowns. It was a typical UConn game. Ugly in every sense of the word.

But to say that UConn doesn't deserve a BCS berth would be insane. The Big East has an automatic BCS berth. So does the ACC, which sucks just as much. And the Pac-10 which will only have three bowl-eligible teams this year thanks to Southern Cal's probation. So West Virginia is ranked, and probably matches up better against an Oklahoma team in the Fiesta Bowl (more on that later), but UConn has a victory against WVU this year. And Pitt. And without Randy Edsall's certified brain fart (the only one he's had in years) in starting redshirt freshman Mike Box against Louisville, Connecticut could be celebrating an outright title in the Big East. Not bad for a basketball school.

But now all indications say that UConn will be going to Glendale, AZ and the Fiesta Bowl while the Stanford Cardinal are heading to Miami and the Orange Bowl. This is a huge mistake for many reasons and if there were a time where I need the NCAA conspiracy theorists to come through for me, now would be that time. You do not want UConn playing its first bowl game in Arizona. Keep UConn and Stanford on their respective coasts, its best for everyone. You get a Top-10 matchup with Stanford-Oklahoma and let the Big East another shot at beating the ACC, something our conference will never say no to.

And I'm not trying to protect UConn here, this is really best for the BCS as a whole. And I'm not a big fan of collusion (see FIFA World Cup selections), but I have to make an exception here. It makes too much sense to have the Huskies in the Orange Bowl that I can openly hope that there are phone calls going back and forth between the Fiesta and Orange Bowl reps. But either way, there is one tiny, football state that will stand united behind their Huskies no matter what.

No matter how ugly their football team is.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 27, 2010 10:48 am
 

UConn In Control of Big East/BCS Destiny

No, the following title is correct. The Connecticut Huskies are two wins away from a Big East conference title and a berth in a BCS Bowl, most likely the Fiesta Bowl. And unlike 2007, when UConn won a share of the Big East title, UConn doesn’t have to go on the road to beat the No. 2 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. That game resulted in a 66-21 loss and UConn only earned a share of the title after a shocking upset by Pitt the following week. WVU still earned the BCS bid, but lost a shot at a National title.

Now, let’s say I gave you the following two scenarios back in 1998, the first year of the BCS:

Connecticut will play in a BCS Bowl OR a non-automatic qualifier will play for the National Title

Quick, how many of you were taking UConn in ’98? Should be zero. Why? Keep reading…

Remember this, UConn was a I-AA team until 1999 and were transitional members of Div. I-A through the 2000-2001 seasons, and weren’t full time Big East members until 2004, a move that happened a year early after the BC, Miami and VA Tech moved to the ACC.

Also remember that 2004 was the first year a non-AQ made a BCS bowl (Utah 35 – Pitt 7) despite several non-AQ schools finishing in the Top 15 of the BCS standings.

So from 2004, it’s an even timeline. UConn started playing in a BCS conference in 2004 and Non-AQs starting making BCS bowl games. The next logical step for each party, making a BCS bowl game (UConn) and making a national title (Non-AQs).

So maybe the goals aren’t exactly equal, but UConn is just one school going up against half of the Div. I-A (Yes, I still refuse to call it the FBS.), so cut me some slack there. Plus, UConn plays in the worst BCS conference in the country  according to everyone (despite the ACC bowl records) and there is no way that a basketball school is playing in BCS football games. There’s a much better chance that Boise State, TCU, Utah, BYU or someone will qualify for the BCS National Title game. Right?

I mean, before the season started, UConn was a darkhorse to win the Big East. Not too shabby, but going against two Top-5 teams in Boise State and TCU. That’s a lot of ground to make up, even for what everyone thought would be a solid UConn team. And there’s no way both of these things could happen right?

Well, fast forward to yesterday. November 26, 2010. Friday afternoon, WVU-Pitt kicks off at noon, UConn needing one Pitt loss and wins against Cincy and USF to clinch the Big East’s BCS berth. WVU blows out Pitt late and UConn officially takes destiny in its own hands heading into today’s home game vs. Cincy. People who chose Option 1 above begin to rejoice.

3 PM, EST - Aubrun-Bama kicks off and Bama is out to a quick 24-0 lead. Suddenly, Option 2 is looking pretty good as well. Somehow Cam Newton rallies Auburn to an Iron Bowl victory and Auburn is one SEC Championship game vs. South Carolina away from a BCS Title berth. (By the way, UConn beat S. Carolina 20-7 in the 2009 PapaJohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama last year. It’s more or less the same roster. I’m taking Auburn.)

8 PM, EST – Arizona-Oregon has kicked off and they are trading touchdowns in the first half. A safety and a FG give Zona a 19-14 lead at half. Option 2 is still in the fight for 2010. End of good news, Ducks move on to a 48-29 rout and Boise, Idaho and Fort Worth, Texas begin to weep. And they kept weeping in Boise after failing to convert two short FGs at the end of regulation and in OT and lose to Nevada.

So maybe the Boise State’s TCU’s of the world won’t make the National Title this year. And the Non-AQ’s will ask again what they have to do to outsmart the BCS computers (play harder non-conference schedules) and the BCS school presidents (looking at you Ohio State) will sit smugly and continue to refuse to play these guys since it’s the only way they will qualify for the National Title game. And the BCS will probably schedule a rematch of the 2009 Fiesta Bowl (greatest injustice in BCS history). What should happen is a 6<sup>th</sup> BCS game and AQ berths for the WAC and MWC, the two dominant Non-AQ conferences in BCS history, mainly due to Boise, TCU and Utah. But that is a topic for later debate…

But elsewhere in the country, isolated from the rest of the college football world, sits a tiny state, whose football team was not even a glimmer in the BCS’ eye just over a decade ago. A program with one of the longest tenured coaches in Div. I-A. A program that sent four players in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in 2009. A program that has no business playing with anyone in the BCS according to just about everyone.

And perhaps the Connecticut Huskies will not reach the Big East summit this season. Perhaps they lose one of their final two games and West Virginia plays in a BCS bowl and saves conference respectability like ESPNs Brian Bennett says. Or maybe the NCAA will step in a forfeit the Big East’s BCS bid for this bowl season and save UConn the embarrassment of being the worst BCS team ever like Bleacher Report says. After all, the last unranked BCS team was that Pitt team that got clobbered by Utah, what chance would UConn possibly have. Or maybe UConn has gotten right like ESPN’s Ivan Maisel wrote in the preseason. (One of my favorite articles ever, and not because it’s about the Huskies, I would have loved it if it had been about the WKU Hilltoppers.)

Either way, everyone who rightly picked against UConn making a BCS bowl over a Non-AQ title contender are probably trying to hedge their bets for the rest of the 2010 season.

But if UConn can come this close to playing a BCS football game, there is certainly a chance that Boise State or TCU can play for a National Title.

Perhaps not this year, but soon.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 23, 2010 10:22 am
Edited on: February 23, 2010 3:08 pm
 

UConn Beats WVU, Clinches Tourney Berth

Okay, so you can't actually clinch a tournament berth for the NCAAs. And certainly another bad loss by the UConn Men in the closing weeks of the regular season and/or in the Big East tournament won't help things. But, and I've ripped this team all year for their absurd ranking in the Top 25, they are an NCAA tournament team.

So UConn is 17-11 overall and 7-8 in the absolutely loaded Big East, where 13th place means you were probably a bubble team last week and in the tournament the week or two before. And the Big East is the hardest conference to pick bubble teams from because they've beaten the heck out of each other and a committee has to determine who is left standing. Tough job.

The Big East currently has 5 teams in the top 25 AP poll (Top 12 actually - [4] Cuse / [7] Nova / [8] WVU / [11] G'Town / [12] Pitt), all of whom are pretty much locks for the NCAAs. Two others, Marquette and Louisville are in the receiving votes sections both have fairly good chances at bids.

Here's UConn's problem: their Big East play has been so sporadic that their resume has great highs with three wins over Top 10 teams (@ Nova, WVU, Texas) and terrible lows like getting swept by Cincinnati (who because of two wins over UConn, are a bubble team). Here's why this is a problem, if the tournament puts UConn in, and they probably will at this point, you have to include Cincy (next best win: Vandy). This is a problem because of the log jam in the Big East standings with four teams with 6-8 conference records (Cincy, USF, Hall, ND). The Big East can't get 12 teams into the NCAA, that's absurd. And if you don't like the 16-team basketball conference, do what I do: blame the ACC and/or Boston College. (Very fun thing to do by the way. Shame BC's not making the big dance.)

Really, the whole Big East bubble scene changes on a daily basis. And the committee takes into account the last few weeks of the season as well. So if UConn ends the season on a 6-game winning streak, including two wins over Top 10 teams and bubble hopefuls ND and USF, then they are in barring a terrible showing in the Big East tournament. The Bearcats, who were ranked at one point this season, have lost 3 of 4 and 4 of 6, beating Providence and UConn. They play DePaul, then @ WVU, Nova, @ G'Town. They probably need two wins over teams not named DePaul to make the NCAAs.

Again, the Big East bubble changes daily. I think that the Big East will get at least 8 bids, and 7 of those are pretty much locked up. The one spot that is open now currently rests with the UConn Huskies. There may be another (9th) spot left for someone else in the Big East, UConn could slip up and lose before the Big East tournament, this wouldn't suprise anyone.

But I do know one thing. IF UConn gets a bid, two teams are going to be very upset. The team that they're matched up with in the first round, and the higher seeded team opposite them in the same pod.

Because neither of those teams wants to play UConn.
Posted on: January 25, 2010 12:46 pm
 

Breaking Down UConn-Texas

The UConn Men's basketball team had been 0-4 against ranked teams this season. They had been a sub-.500 team in Big East play and were in danger of missing the NCAA tournament. They lacked a signature non-conference win, heck, they lacked any real good wins. Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun is on a leave of absense due to medical reasons. I mean really, nothing could be worse for the Huskies. Then came the first half against Texas.

They couldn't pass the ball. Kemba Walker had 7 turnovers in the first half and the UConn team as a whole probably had double that. The Huskies are still a bad 3-pt shooting team, ranking in the bottom 5 in the country in makes per game. Yet it was the timely three point shooting of G Jerome Dyson that sparked the Huskies to a huge second half run and handed previously No. 1 ranked Texas it's second loss this week.

Had Jim Calhoun been coaching this game, odds are he would have had a mental breakdown after the 10th turnover and would have been carted off the court. Instead, the stoic George Blaney was on the sidelines for Connecticut, and his calm approach probably won this game for UConn. He didn't have to rile up his team to play, he didn't have to motivate them, he just had to be patient. The Huskies were playing great D and despite throwing the ball into the stands repeatedly, UConn was in this game. Blaney knew it, and he let his team know it at halftime.

And boy what a turnaround. UConn went from completely inept on the offensive end to being unable to miss over the course of one halftime intermission. UConn seemed more patient and didn't force passes. They made better choices in transitition to make baskets instead of turnovers. They finally proved that they were a Top 25 team. The Huskies had been close all season, playing Duke and Kentucky tough for 40 minutes. Now they have a win to show for it.

I've doubted UConn's ranking in the Top 25 pretty much all season. They didn't dominate games early, they played down to their competition but in the end, they've always played hard and won. They've played the top schedule in the country according to CBSSports.com's RPI rankings. Maybe that's changed since I last checked, but 4 of their 6 losses have come to teams ranked in the Top 25 and all are probably going to make deep tournament runs.

The UConn Huskies are probably no better than a 5 or 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Barring a deep Big East run in the final month and in the Big East Tourney, that's what they've deserved. And they'll be paired with some team that's had a good season and earned a 3 or 4 seed and if they meet in the second round UConn will have a good chance of winning that game. And probably the next one too.

Because they just clinched their ticket to the big dance. And barring a 5 game losing streak during their remaining conference games, I think they've earned it.

Category: NCAAB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com