Teams from the Big East that are fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives are going to meet up at the KFC Yum! Arena on Monday night at 7:00. The Louisville Cardinals will play host to the Connecticut Huskies.
Right now, the Huskies have to be wondering whether they are going to even get a chance to defend their National Championship this year or not. They are in a relatively similar spot to what they were in last year when they were right on the cusp of getting into, or not getting into the dance. We all know what happened from there. A good Big East Tournament usually gets anyone into the field with a high seed, and that’s exactly what happened with UConn. Last year though, we knew that Kemba Walker had the ability to take over a game and carry the team, and that’s exactly what he did. This year, there are some major offensive problems. The Huskies lost four straight games before beating the Seton Hall Pirates over the weekend, and of those four losses, they were stuck in the 40s in two of those games, and in the 50s and 60s in the other two. In fact, UConn hasn’t reached 70 in a game in the entire calendar year, a stretch of nine straight games. That isn’t going to cut it in this conference for the most part, and if it doesn’t change, the team is going to be in a heck of a lot of trouble.
It hasn’t been the easiest season in the world for Head Coach Rick Pitino and the gang. The team has lost Rakeem Buckles for the season to an ACL injury, and there are definitely some games in which the offense just doesn’t get the job done for whatever reason. However, a four-game winning streak has come just at the right time, and it has put the Redbirds back into the Top 25 in the land and comfortably in the field of 68, at least for the time being. The schedule is going to get a heck of a lot harder going forward though, and Pitino knows it. These four wins came against Seton Hall, Rutgers, Villanova, and Pitt, an before that, there were games against Marquette, DePaul, Providence, Notre Dame, and St. John’s. Only the Golden Eagles, Pirates, and Fighting Irish really have a shot at dancing of those teams. The rest of the schedule is brutal, as there are only four home games left, and one of those is against the Syracuse Orange. Wins like this one simply have to be had, as in all likelihood, it will take Louisville at least 22 wins to feel safely in the NCAA Tournament.
The Final Word: We really think that the Huskies are in some trouble in this one. Louisville is a legitimate Top 25 team in our estimation, though we don’t put all that much credence in the four straight wins against mostly non-tournament teams. UConn just doesn’t look like a team that is good enough to go to the dance this year either, and we think that it will struggle on the road in this one once again.
Connecticut Huskies @ Louisville Cardinals Pick: Louisville Cardinals -4
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.