The University of Connecticut Huskies men’s basketball team isn’t a dynasty like their women’s team. But it’s totally fair to say that the men’s team has been the best in men’s college basketball over the last 25 years. They’ve won five championships in that span, more than any other team. While they do have (from time to time) stretches without sustained success in March, when they get rolling, they are hard to beat.
Back on March 14th, I wrote an article about what you should know about March Madness. I included my version of “bracketology.” Effectively, who I thought had a shot at winning it all.
What I said…
“Buoyed by a top-tier resume featuring wins over Alabama, Iowa State, and Marquette, the Huskies can go toe-to-toe with anyone. Their starting five features an elite rebounder in Adama Sanogo and two sharpshooters in Alex Karaban and Jordan Hawkins. Make no mistake. These Huskies are going to be a problem for someone.”
UConn won all six games to win the entire tournament. They didn’t just get hot. They turned into a supernova, beating their six opponent by a combined 120 points. That’s the best mark at an NCAA tournament since 2009 UNC (+121 point differential). UConn also finished the season 17-0 versus non-conference opponents (non-Big East). They won those 17 games by double-digit points each.
That starting five featuring Adama Sanogo (Most Outstanding Player of the tournament) and Jordan Hawkins (16.3ppg on 43/50/92 splits) dominated each opponent. The Huskies trailed for a total of 55 seconds in the second half… of the entire NCAA tournament.
So why aren’t they a dynasty?
For as much success as the Huskies have had, they’ve also lost a fair amount at March Madness. In 15 of their past 25 years, they’ve failed to make it out of the first weekend. But they’ve also won five titles. In that same quarter-century span, traditional Blue Bloods have combined to win nine total titles. For those keeping score, that’s Duke and UNC (3 apiece), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), and Indiana & UCLA (0).
This team could be different, though!
Yes, Dan Hurley could conceivably turn this team into a dynasty. Adama Sanogo could opt to come back instead of entering the NBA draft. Alex Karaban and Donovan Clingan will likely return as well. If Jordan Hawkins wants to improve his stock from mid-first rounder to lottery pick, he too could opt to return. UConn also has a loaded recruiting class coming in – featuring a five-star guard Stephon Castle and a 4 four-star player (a shooting guard, two forwards, and a center).
With Dan Hurley at the helm, this team is likely going to open as a preseason #1 with a shot at becoming the first team since Florida in the 2000s to repeat as National Champions.
Regardless, they’re officially a Blue Blood program.
For those who are new to college basketball, the first reference to blue blood was in the Brooklyn Times-Union way back in 1927. It references an undefined yet elite class of college basketball programs. As mentioned above, those Blue Blood programs are traditional basketball powerhouses. Their status is commonly agreed upon, and the six schools are Kentucky, UNC, Duke, Kansas, Indiana, and UCLA.
I think it’s fair to say that UConn has joined their ranks. They have five titles in a span of twenty-five years. While they only have four active NBA players, since the first of their five titles, 24 guys have been drafted into the NBA. It’s fair to assume that Sanogo, Hawkins, and Karaban will join that list in the next year or two.
The Huskies also have the unique honor of saying they have the most NCAA tournament title game wins without a loss. Yes, they’re a perfect 5-0 in the finals. They have more championships than Kansas. They have the same number as Duke and Indiana. These Huskies are the real deal.
Read more on March Madness:
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