Sunday, March 14, 2010

Husky vs. Husky Crime

Jim Calhoun’s first National Invitational Tournament opponent in nine years will be a familiar foe.

The UConn men’s basketball team will face Northeastern in a first-round NIT game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.

Calhoun, of course, coached at Northeastern for 14 seasons before taking over at UConn in 1986. UConn is 34-4 all-time against Northeastern and unbeaten (7-0) under Calhoun. The last time the two teams, both nicknamed the Huskies, met was on Dec. 6, 2007 – a 69-60 UConn win in which Calhoun was ejected for arguing with the refs.

UConn is the No. 4 seed on its side of the bracket, Northeastern the No. 5 seed. If UConn wins, it will take on the winner of Wednesday night’s Virginia Tech-Quinnipiac bout. That game would be played either Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Monday, March 22.

It will be UConn’s sixth trip to the NIT since Calhoun took over the program in 1986 and first since 2001, when the Huskies lost a second-round game in Storrs to Detroit Mercy.

UConn won the NIT championship in 1988, Calhoun’s second year at the helm, beating Ohio State 72-67 in the finals behind Cliff Robinson, Phil Gamble and Tate George. The Huskies advanced to the quarterfinal round the following season, losing to Alabama-Birmingham 85-79 in Hartford.

In 1993, the Huskies were unceremoniously bounced in an opening round home game by Jackson State. Four years later, the Huskies advanced all the way to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden, where they lost to Florida State in overtime 71-66. UConn came back two days later to beat Arkansas in a consolation game and finish third overall.

In all, this will be UConn’s 12th trip to the NIT.