STORRS, Conn. -- There are two ways to look at the American Athletic Conference tournament.
Depending on your mood, station in life and general optimism/pessimism quotient, the Huskies have no chance at all or an excellent chance.
The Huskies have to win four straight games in the American to earn the automatic bid and with it a chance to defend last season's national title.
For the pessimist, 17-13 in the American and not having a single four-game winning streak all season seems like an impossible task considering it must come in four straight days. The Huskies are inconsistent, one day beating a Top 25 team in SMU, another night losing to lowly Houston. For much of the season, the Huskies haven't been able to generate any momentum.
The pessimist sees no reason why it should click now.
Then there is the optimist. Can I make a case for the Huskies to win the American?
Sure I can. It isn't some big reach. The tournament beings on Thursday at the XL Center when the Huskies play USF and continues through Sunday. The Huskies are good at the XL Center, only one loss there this year, and the home crowd figures to sour the Huskies on. The other, and more important aspect, is the Huskies beat all the teams ahead of them. If seeds hold, UConn has beaten USF, Cincinnati, Tulsa and SMU this season. All of those wins came at the XL Center.
The Huskies could be playing their final game of the season if they lose (an NIT berth would be in jeopardy) or could be back in the NCAAs. Thirty games this season trips to Puerto Rico and to Texas and Florida comes down to this -- four games in Hartford.
"We beat every team we are going to face in this tournament," Ryan Boatright said. "We beat them where we are going to playing at, the XL. We should be confident going into those games because we beat the teams already."
The Huskies have been in similar situations before. There was the 5-games in 5 days to win the Big East in 2011 followed by the legendary run to the NCAA title. Last year, UConn made it to the American final before it was beaten by Louisville, but rebounded in the NCAAs with another title run.
The Huskies were embarrassed by Louisville twice down the stretch last year and limped into the postseason. The regular season had no effect on the postseason.
That's what Boatright is trying to hammer home to his teammates.
"The slate is clean 0-0. How you did as an individual is over. Played great, played bad, forget it and reinvent yourself," Boatright said. "It is time to start 0-0. Win 4 straight now and six straight in (NCAA) tournament."
Kevin Ollie has no magic formula for his team heading into the American. USF is young missing its top player and center and is playing freshmen. The Bulls will come in big underdogs and with nothing to loose. UConn?
It has to play with that loose attitude too and don't let the moment overtake them.
How do you do that? Get back to basics. that's what the Huskies did last season.
"I hope we come out with energy and play our type of basketball," Ollie said. "Consistency, I want to see consistency and 40 minutes, 35 seconds a possession. Hopefully we can turn this ship around."
UConn has Boatright, the conferences leading scorer, Amida Brimah, the defensive player of the year and forward Daniel Hamilton -- a favorite for rookie of the year.
The talent is there for a run if the Huskies get back to basics.
"Just getting back to playing UConn basketball," Ollien said. "Coach Calhoun did it, we did it last year, we did possession by possession. No rally cap, hat backward, just grinding it out.
"Win and advance, that's what it is all about. I am not looking forward to Sunday, not looking forward to Friday. It's about now and taking care of business. "
The Huskies head in with a tough task, but not impossible. You can talk yourself into a run and quickly talk your way out of it.
Depends which UConn team shows up.
At this point, it's anybodies guess.
- First Round - Thursday, March 12
- Game 1: 3:30pm ESPNU - #8 East Carolina vs #9 UCF
- Game 2: 6pm ESPNews - #7 Tulane vs #10 Houston
- Game 3: 8pm ESPNews - #6 UConn vs #11 USF
- Quarterfinals - Friday, March 13
- Game 4: Noon ESPN2 - #1 SMU vs Winner Game 1
- Game 5: 2pm ESPN2 - #4 Temple vs #5 Memphis
- Game 6: 7pm ESPNU - #2 Tulsa vs Winner Game 2
- Game 7: 9pm ESPNU - #3 Cincinnati vs Winner Game 3
- Semifinals - Saturday, March 14
- Game 8: 3pm ESPN2 - Winner Game 4 vs Winner Game 5
- Game 9: 5pm ESPN2 - Winner Game 6 vs Winner Game 7
- Championship Game - Sunday, March 15
- Game 10: 3:15pm ESPN - Winner Game 8 vs Winner Game 9