Investing in this suddenly intriguing UConn season -- and remembering last year's, as well
But as a quick interjection, we remind you that Rebound! The Incredible Story of UConn Basketball's Comeback from Defeat to Dominance, my book that chronicles the first two years of Kevin Ollie's reign, culminating in last year's unlikey national title, officially hits stores today (Tuesday, March 3). It's available online, of course, as well.
(Oh, and we'll be doing another book signing at the UConn Co-Op, right next door to Gampel, on Thursday from 7:30-8:30 p.m., right before the 9 p.m. Memphis game).
Now, back to this season.
UConn is starting to trend upward a bit, and while it's not on anybody's immediate NCAA tournament radar screen, the idea that the Huskies have no chance at an at-large bid and must win next week's AAC tourney may not be accurate. Obviously, UConn has a lot of work to do and really can't afford to slip up between now and, at the very least, the finals of the AAC tourney.
If the Huskies beat Memphis (sans Austin Nichols) on Thursday, they will clinch a top-five finish in the league and, with that, a first-round bye in the league tourney. If UConn wins its regular-season finale on Saturday at Temple (who beat them in OT on New Year's in Hartford, and battled UConn pretty tough last season in Philly), it could finish as high as third place in the standings.
Either way, beat Memphis and that assures a shorter road to the AAC finals. Say the Huskies win their last two regular-season games, then their first two tourney games (which, as we all know, will be in Hartford). That would put UConn at 21-11 overall, heading into the championship game. Its RPI (currently at 69, as we type this) would obviously have improved. How much, of course, depends on numerous factors, including which two teams it beat in its first two AAC tourney games.
If UConn loses in the AAC title game, it would be 21-12, RPI probably in the 50's.
But remember this: SMU was 23-9 with an RPI of 53 when it was snubbed last season. The Huskies' record won't be better than that, and there's a good chance its RPI won't be better, either.
Obviously, it's a different season, with what is perceived to be a weaker bubble. Still, if I'm UConn, I'm still heeding Ryan Boatright's words from a couple of weeks ago: "It's no secret we're gonna have to win that (AAC) tournament to make the (NCAA) tournament ... That's the only chance we've got."