It's a Saturday in February in Storrs, which can only mean one thing: Big East ACTION! a random basketball game against a middling midwestern team!
Fresh off a refreshingly awesome victory over No. 7 Louisville earlier in the week, the Huskies host the Wolverines of Michigan in a cool little intersectional game at Gampel Pavilion.
Though I have been accused of minimizing the Big Ten's contribution to collegiate athletics, I at least acknowledge that their conference is better than the MAC. Likewise, though the Wolverines (15-8, 5-6) have struggled in-conference, they do have wins over rapidly collapsing Duke and massively underrated UCLA.
The Wolverines are coached by a familiar face, one Mr. John Beilein, formerly of Kevin Pittsnoggle and Mountaineer Man fame. His 1-3-1 defense will be sure to frustrate the hell out of the Huskies until Hasheem Thabeet realizes that he is the tallest player on the floor by seven or eight inches.
It's already Saturday, and there are already people camped out in front of Gampel, so I'll keep this relatively brief and forward you to people who follow the teams (and the numbers) much closer than us three.
After all, if you use numbers, then sure Porter's correct that Kemba Walker isn't the greatest player in UConn history and a retroactive edition to the 1996 list of the NBA's Top 50 Greatest Players. But that would be silly.
Anyway, after the jump lie interesting links of all kinds. Plus, a very special video that will show you exactly how UConn moved into first place in the Big East this morning.
Also, my pick: If I were Lee Corso, I would be a penis. Also, I might say that this game would be closer than the experts think.
But I am not Lee Corso. So therefore, I'll just say that Michigan hits some early shots, looks like it might threaten, but UConn is too much in the end. Hasheem Thabeet's team 85, Robert "Tractor" Traylor's team 70, setting up an apocalyptic four days of nonstop Syracuse hating.
On to the links:
- We'll start with the happenings in Tampa last night. South Florida, the best damn 13th-place team in any conference anywhere, took Marquette to the limit. The Golden Eagles, you might remember, were keeping warm UConn's seat at the top of the Big East standings, despite their bluster to the contrary. Marquette wasn't supposed to lose in conference play until they started playing real teams. Unfortunately, they just couldn't wait to revert to their normal tailspin, which will eventually lead to a loss to an 11 seed in the first weekend of the tournament. As proof, I offer this YouTube video (the game is also available for replay on ESPN360.com). Fast forward to the 7:00 mark for what was, admittedly, a really crazy finish that Lazar Hayward (of HEY-WARD HEY-WARD fame) will try to erase from his dreams:
The Marquette loss puts UConn in first place in the conference through at least Wednesday, as they (obviously) are out of conference tonight. What makes this even more fun is that UConn will be taking care of the Marquette women's team tonight in their own building. Bow towards us, Wisconsinites. And take back Brett Favre, please.
The game: Michigan (15-8) at #1 UConn (21-1)
The place: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs
The time: 6 p.m.
The media: TV: ESPN, Radio: WHUS 91.7-FM, WTIC-1080 AM
The spread: UConn minus-16
Series history: Michigan 1-0.
Last meeting: Michigan 62, UConn 45 (Dec. 18, 1939 at White Plains, N.Y.)
Is this school better than UConn at basketball?: Well, possibly. The Wolverines won a national title in 1989, and the Michigan teams of the Fab Five years have a pair of Final Fours have no Final Fours, according to the great and glorious NCAA, and all mentions to the contrary will be met with extreme prejudice. Michigan has three other legitimate final fours. But of course, UConn has its two national titles. Advantage us. Yay us!
Game notes: UConn and Michigan. Michigan's game notes include the retro-cool ESPN2 all-lowercase letters for team nicknames.
- The Michigan blogs are some of the best in this wacky blogosphere. MGoBlog, to me, seems to be the standard in team-centric blogs, though regrettably it has no basketball content in recent days. (What the hell is hock-key?)Luckily, the tentacles (Wolverine claw hands?) of the UM blogosphere do reach down to a nifty little site called UMHoops. In their preview of today's game, one thing becomes very apparent: Jeff Adrien or Thabeet should score at least 20. Manny Harris, a guard - at 6-5, yes, but still a guard - would match-up with Adrien if Michigan played man defense. Mismatch!I mention Thabeet because, as I said earlier, he'd be Michigan's biggest starter by seven inches. Lots of interesting tidbits of the Wolverines, and a nice look at the Huskies from fans who don't get to see UConn all that often. Make sure to check it out.
- Moving back towards Connecticut blogs - of which we are obviously superior! - Matt's UConn blog is all over the Wolverines, who punished upstart Penn State by 20 earlier this week. He's also got notes about UConn's mentality as a No. 1 team, as well as news on Nate Miles and a couple of Huskies on the Wooden Award candidate list.
- The Connecticut papers are also on the "OMG WE'RE #1 PANIC!" scent; the Courant's preview deviates slightly from that script to point out that West Virginia Michigan is going to frustrate the hell out of UConn with slow, patient offensive sets and backdoor cuts.
- The Register's preview also notes that Jerome Dyson, who has battled knee pain most of this season, should be ready to go tonight. Also, in a WTF-type bullet point, the article says that Ater Majok is due for an MRI on both knees. Come on! He looked just fine walking around on my floor a couple hours ago.
- Over in the recessioning state of Michigan, The Detroit Free Press' preview has absolute me-like levels of reverse homerism. Or, if you prefer, Adam Sandler-like listing: "So when you feel like the only kid in town / that could beat #1 UConn...here's a list of things that are bad indicators...just like you and meeeeeee." I like Sandler's version better, personally.
- Finally, our tour of previewdom concludes with MLive.com, whose preview indicates that Harris, Michigan's best player this year and a key figure in UM's win over the Dukies, does know what stilts are, even if he can't figure out the precise word.
Enjoy the game, everybody. Go Huskies.