UConn, coming off a win over Columbia, is 5-4 on the season. It's a record the Huskies aren't used to having, but the American Athletic Conference's weakness has led the Huskies to invert their schedule.
UConn went hard in the non-conference, Texas, Duke, West Virginia, and even has dates left with Stanford and Florida.
The reason is simple as the American doesn't provide the opportunities for quality wins like the old Big East. How stark is it?
Right now, UConn's Strength of Schedule (SOS) is No. 8 ranked in the nation. The projected strength of schedule as the Huskies go through the American schedule? That would be No. 69.
When UConn went on to win the national title in 2010 out of the Big East, the conference record was 9-9 and the Huskies were a No. 9 seed in the Big East tourney. A record like that this year and the Huskies will be sweating out an NIT bid.
It's a new world for the Huskies.
The Huskies are a fringe NCAA tournament team right now and without a single game scheduled against a team that is ranked, the only way for the Huskies to impress is to win. A big record in the American is going to be what it takes and that's what makes Sunday's game against Central and then on Wednesday against Temple (which blasted Kansas last week) critical games.
The Huskies have four losses. They can't give away anymore. After a tough game against Columbia when the Huskies pulled away late, getting a victory was the only consideration.
How the Huskies played, how they looked, that's secondary to a W in the win column. UConn's going to need a lot more Ws to get a chance to repeat as national champions. The conference won't carry the Huskies anymore.
Coach Kevin Ollie knows the opportunities may have passed UConn by already.
"You need signature wins for the NCAA to build your resume,” Ollie said prior to a loss to No. 2 Duke.
Right now, there are no signature wins and several close and all four frustrating losses.
UConn is two last second jumpers -- about 4 seconds -- away from two more wins and a 7-2 record with losses to Texas and Yale. The Huskies had chances against Duke and lost. West Virginia, out in Puerto Rico, was the better team that night.
UConn heads into its final tune-up before hosting Temple on Wednesday hungry for wins.
Temple is the top ranked RPI team in the conference at 33. After that, SMU is 54 and Tulsa is 70. UConn is 72. It's a one bid league right now going into American play with a couple of bubble teams.
|American Athletic Conferenc 2014-15 RPI|
|9 (234)||South Florida||.4598||5-6||241||240||245||158||292||0-1||0-1||0-1||5-6||199||3.7||-3.4||0.3|
|11 (293)||East Carolina||.4169||4-6||315||257||319||115||205||0-1||0-1||0-0||4-6||203||0.1||-2.8||-2.7|
How do the Huskies get there? The best way to get there is to continue to find Ryan Boatright help.
Rodney Purvis had 22 points against Columbia and finally broke out. Terrence Samuel hit a couple of jumpers and had six points and needs to continue to be aggressive. Omar Calhoun and Sam Cassell Jr. are the best long range threats and have yet to get going. The best basketball for the Huskies appears to be ahead of them.
"I know for us to get to where I want to go, it’s going to take all of us," Boatright said after the Columbia game. "It’s not going to be just me going out there and scoring 25, we’re going to need everybody to step up and score. We’re going to need Purvis to step up and be that No. 2 go guy."
If the Huskies are going to get back to March relevancy, it has to start before the New Year turns.