I'm not exactly breaking news by pointing out that the Huskies have failed to win three straight Big East games this year. I talked about it yesterday, I am sure it will be mentioned on TV today, and should the Huskies lose to West Virginia you can bet it will be one of the first things out of the mouth of anyone arguing that UConn does not deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. A stat like that is meaningful, because when you want to prove you belong consistency matters. Thankfully for UConn it has been pretty well acknowledged that a win today will once and for all prove that the Huskies do belong in the NCAA field. Yes, they're probably there already, but if Shabazz Napier and company send the Mountaineers packing the debate changes from one about getting a bid to one about seeding.
Beating West Virginia is certainly possible. UConn did it back on January 9, rallying from behind in Hartford to snap a two-game losing streak. It won't be easy though. Mountaineer forward Kevin Jones made be the Big East first team, but might be feeling some extra motivation today since he, like Kemba Walker last year, was not named a unanimous selection when it was clearly deserved. Like last time, he'll probably match up on Andre Drummond, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. His smaller size (he's 6'8") and shooting ability mean Drummond might struggle when Jones leaves the paint, however UConn should have an advantage on offense, where Drummond will be able to bully the Mountaineers inside (last time he scored 20 points on 9-11 shooting). It's worth nothing that Roscoe Smith only played three minutes in that first game and his particular skill-set could be useful in shutting down Jones on the perimeter. However, Smith would probably get beat up inside by the 260 lb. Jones.
There is also the little matter of West Virginia departing for the Big XII. The Mountaineers are probably going to play at least one game in the NCAA tournament as a Big East school, but for all intents and purposes a loss today would mean the end of their time in the Big East, and as a fan I would not mind being the one to shut the door on them.
The game tips at noon in Madison Square Garden. ESPN and ESPN3 have your TV coverage. This is your OpenThread. Join the discussion below. Go Huskies.