Thursday, November 14, 2013

There'll Be No Gardner-Webb in This Year's 2K Sports Classic

Tonight's UConn-Detroit bout is part of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project. The 12-team tourney has four main regional sites -- Storrs, Chestnut Hill (Mass.), Bloomington (Ind.) and Seattle. Each of the regional host schools -- UConn, Boston College, Indiana and Washington -- will entertain two opponents before moving on to Madison Square Garden. The eight remaining schools will also move on to play three more games at two sub-regional sites.

After tonight, the Huskies face Boston University on Sunday at noon. Win or lose either game, it's on to MSG for UConn. Why is the tourney set up this way? Well, to avoid a situation like what happened in 2007, when Gardner-Webb knocked off Kentucky at Rupp Arena to earn a trip to the Garden, where it faced UConn. Tournament hosts were surely figuring on a Kentucky-UConn match-up.

Funnily enough, UConn was nearly knocked off in its first game of the event that season, barely eking out a 69-65 win over Morgan State. If you remember, Jim Calhoun also campaigned against having Holy Cross play in the event that year, not wanting to face a slow-it-down opponent like that in UConn's first game after a postseason-less 2006-07 season.

Even funnier, UConn beat Gardner-Webb in the Garden, 78-66, then played them again five days later at the XL Center in a regularly-scheduled game, winning that one 89-73. The Huskies wound up playing Gardner-Webb more than they played Big East rivals like Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Louisville that season.

Anyway, there will be no Gardner-Webb-type team at the Garden this year. It'll be UConn, Boston College, Indiana and Washington. Even if Detroit wins tonight, its prize is a bout with Florida Atlantic in the Detroit Subregional on Nov. 22 at Calihan Hall.


*** Talked to Brendan Allen, who was seated behind press row, prior to the game. Allen said he didn't want to return to the team as a walk-on after being on scholarship last season. He also said he's a Biology major, and it's tough to juggle the books with being on the hoops team.



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