For any college basketball fan, the month of March is something we have all been waiting for. March Madness is upon us, and it is an exceptionally important time for fans in the “basketball capital of the world.” Following the conference tournaments, the NCAA tournament is set to begin soon. Rankings for each region have been released, and for UConn, our school is the only team in the nation to have both men’s and women’s teams in the top 10.
UCONN WOMEN’S TEAM
Coming off yet another Big East championship win, the UConn women’s basketball team is ranked as the No. 2 seed in the Seattle 3 region for the NCAA tournament. Remarkably for the Huskies, this is the sixth time this women’s team has been ranked No. 2, and it is their 34th consecutive time playing in the NCAA tournament. They hold the record for the most national championships (11), as well as for advancing to the past 14 straight NCAA Final Fours.
My prediction for this team is another trip to the Final Four, but with the number of injuries this team has battled, it may be tough, but not impossible, to bring home another championship. They need to stay healthy throughout the tournament and keep key players like Azzi Fudd, Lou Lopez Senechal, and Aaliyah Edwards out of harm’s way. Undoubtedly, I think the two toughest teams UConn will have to battle to bring home another trophy are the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the Stanford Cardinals. The Huskies will kick off this tournament in Gampel Pavillion vs No. 15 Vermont on Saturday, March 18 at 3 pm. The winner of that game will go on to play the winner of No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 10 Alabama on Monday.
UCONN MEN’S TEAM
Although this year the UConn men’s basketball team was not able to win the Big East championship title, they are still a dominating team going into March Madness. These Huskies will be looking to bring home the men’s program’s fifth NCAA championship. This will be UConn’s 36th time in this tournament, where they have had 17 Sweet 16’s, 11 Elite Eights, and five Final Fours. This year, they have been ranked as the No. 4 seed in the West region; this is only the second time in program history they have been a No. 4 seed, the last time being in 2008.
Head coach Dan Hurley is more than ready for the tournament and says “It’s what you play for the whole year — to put yourself in the tournament and get the best possible seed. It’s a rush.” The toughest teams I predict UConn will be up against in this tournament are the Kansas Jayhawks, the Purdue Boilermakers, and fellow Big East rivals, the Marquette Golden Eagles and Providence Friars. In order for the Huskies to make it far in this tournament, they need to continue to hit heavy three-pointers in every game, and get Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins scoring big. One of the reasons they came up 2 points short versus Marquette in the Big East semifinals is because they had some runs of missing shots, and Jordan Hawkins struggled to put up points. The Huskies will begin the first round of the tournament vs. No. 13 Iona University on Friday, March 17 at 4:30 pm. The winner of this game will play the winner of No. 5 St. Mary’s vs. No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth, on Sunday, March 19.
This year’s March Madness is going to be an exciting time for UConn fans; not only will they have the opportunity to see the women’s team try to bring home another championship, but this men’s team is playing some of the best college basketball the program has ever seen. Be sure to tune into Friday evening’s game to watch the men, and Saturday afternoon’s game to watch the women!