2011-2012 College Basketball Previews: #4- UConn Huskies
UConn Huskies Gambling Odds to Win NCAA Championship from Bookmaker: +1,600
UConn Huskies Gambling Odds to Win Big East Conference Regular Season from 5Dimes: +275
The college basketball season kicks off for most teams around November 10. It won’t be long before the hardwood stars are taking the court! Over the next few days, I’ll be previewing my top five teams in the country. My number four team is the defending champion UConn Huskies.
Last Year’s Results (32-9, National Champion)
It’s amazing to think about in hindsight, but UConn was really on the bubble entering the Big East Conference Tournament last season. Kemba Walker and the team took it upon themselves to make sure they would get it into the NCAA Tournament by winning five straight games and winning the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies finished the year a stunning 14-0 in tournament play. They won the Maui Invitational, the Big East tournament, and finally the NCAA Tournament. It truly was a magical year for the Huskies.
Kemba Walker was the catalyst for everything this team did last year, and he will be sorely missed. Walker could always get his own shot or create one for a teammate. The team will have to adjust to live without Kemba.
UConn didn’t bring in a big class for this year, but all three of the players they signed are top notch players. Andre Drummond is listed as the top center in the 2011 recruiting class, and his athleticism in the paint is marveled at by onlookers. Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels are both quality players who will help the team’s depth. Boatright is lightning quick and he should help the team push the tempo.
Jim Calhoun has been around long enough to be very good at evaluating talent. Calhoun said during the offseason, “we’re as good as anybody on the perimeter.” Jeremy Lamb is a budding star who should have no problem taking over as the team’s primary scorer. Lamb averaged 16.2 points per game and shot 58% from the floor in the NCAA Tournament last year. Drummond has enormous potential and Alex Oriakhi showed last year that he is fully capable of dominating the glass.
Lamb will be able to step up his scoring production, but who will be the floor leader for the Huskies? Kemba Walker meant far more to this team than just his points per game, and the Huskies will need to find a new leader moving forward. Can the guys in the frontcourt provide enough help on the offensive end of the floor?
UConn Huskies 2011-2012 Basketball Schedule
The non-conference schedule is littered with cupcakes like Wagner, Coppin State, UNC Asheville, and others. The Huskies won’t get many tests until they get into Big East play. Home games against Syracuse and Pittsburgh at the end of their Big East schedule could easily be deciding the conference championship.
UConn Huskies 2011-2012 Prediction: (#1 Seed in NCAA Tournament, Loss in Elite Eight)
The potential for this team is quite high, but I think they’ll miss Walker a little more than some people think. He was the heart and soul of this team, and he really was the primary reason they didn’t lose a tournament game all year. I think the Huskies will be very successful again this year, but I think they fall just a bit short of another trip to the Final Four.