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Let's freak out slightly less tonight: a UConn-Boston U preview

Apropos of nothing - Marcus Williams throwing an alley-oop to Hasheem Thabeet, courtesy of UC Huskies. Sweetness.

Losing to Duke sucks. And UConn has looked nothing at all like a ranked team in the last three weeks. (The LSU win, against a crappy SEC team with half its team mired in foul trouble, was really not as impressive as it looked.)

At this moment, on Dec. 2, 2009, this is a seriously flawed team with three good, inconsistent quasi-alpha dogs, a couple of nice complimentary players, and a load of noncontributors. This is a team playing the style of last year's team without the weapons that made that team work so well together (a 7-3 center, a 3-point shooter, more than 1.5 good post players). This is a team that needs to find itself over these last four weeks before Big East play starts.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about 2009-10's MSG Excursion #1 (a 3-part series). It is, after all, a 31-game season and we're not even a sixth of the way through. So we move onward:

The game: Boston University (2-5) at #14 UConn (4-1)

The place: The Morgue, Hartford, for the first time this season.

Mercifully, most of the non-winter-break home games are at Gampel. Kudos to UConn for trying, at least, but I can't forgive them for scheduling last year's Pittsburgh game for Hartford. Even though that game was as loud as I can ever remember Hartford being (during one UConn run in the second half), I think the marshmallow dome would have exploded if it were on campus.

The time: 7 p.m.

The media: TV: SNY (for me), MyTV9 (for most of you), check your listings if you're not in the area.

Radio: WTIC 1080-AM, WHUS 91.7-FM

The Vegas favorite: Doesn't seem to be any line on the game in any of the first couple Google results I pulled up. So I'll pull something out of my ass - UConn by 20.5.

Series history: UConn leads, 40-12; Jim Calhoun has won 104 of his last 105 games against New England non-conference opponents. The last loss was the infamous buzzer-beater against UMass five years ago that we will never mention again.

Last meeting: UConn 68, Boston U 54 (Nov. 17, 1997 - Preseason NIT first round)

State of the Huskies: Panic. Apocalypse. Abandon ship. Wild pronouncements of impending doom.

We lost to f--king Duke.

That kind of sums up the last hour of Friday's TheLiveBlog (except for Porter, that miserable positive bastard).

For the fourth game in five tries this year, UConn put forth an effort that rivaled some of those glorious 2006-07 games in their offensive ineptitude. The game was nowhere near as close as the 68-59 score would indicate, and the ACC can finally claim they aren't a mid-major compared to the Big East. We let the conference down, like a common Syracuse (most years). By the end of the game, I said this UConn team would not win 20 games this year unless it got better. I stand by that.

Now, of course this team will get better (we assume), and Ater Majok's entry couldn't possibly hurt the team, right? Plus, those 2006-07 struggles came against the likes of Quinnipiac and Rutgers, and of course no team wins November national championships like Duke. (I think part of the reason that losing to Duke pisses me off is because I refuse to believe that the Blue Devils have any good players at all.)

Luckily, for UConn, there's plenty of room in the schedule for a couple signature wins over top 10 programs (Villanova, West Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, to name four), so I (and we) should just chill out and let Coach Cal mold this hunk of clay into something not-panic-inducingly-bad.

So, tell me a little bit about the Terriers: They appear to not be very good.

BU's two wins are fairly impressive for an America East school - they beat rebuilding Indiana in a tournament in Puerto Rico, and they beat Northeastern (a CAA favorite this year) a week ago.

But they also have bad losses to Iona and Harvard (UConn's next opponent, this Sunday). They appear to be a middling America East squad, and Jim Calhoun feasts on those types of teams (washed down with the tears of children).

Four starters are back from a team that finished third in the AmEast in 2009 (17-13, 11-5), but lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

This year, four Terriers score in double figures, led by junior swingman John Holland's 19.7. Holland was a first-team All-America East selection last season, and looks about on track to get back there.

In the Puerto Rico tournament, Holland scored 20, 21 and 23 points against three BCS opponents (Kansas State, Indiana, Georgia Tech), though weirdly he didn't start two of those games.

The Terriers are a balanced rebounding team, with six players grabbing between 3.0 and 6.9 per game. Boston U has actually outrebounded its opponents narrowly despite their 2-5 record.

Check out the game notes: UConn's are here, while Boston U's are here.

Media matters:

I hate you, Jim Calhoun. Well, that's not even remotely true. But stop it! Stop getting our hopes up!

In today's edition of Storrs' favorite game, "How Can I Screw With Everyone's Head Regarding Ater Majok?," Coach Cal called Majok "the best player on the floor" during practice this week.

You feel that dangerous happy sensation in your brain right now. Quash it. Quash it good. Coach Cal is toying with us. I will believe this until I see Ater Majok in a live game.

Ah, who am I kidding? I'll be expecting 25 and 10 from Majok when he is eligible Dec. 20. The Kentucky game on Dec. 9 is the last game Majok will be ineligible. My God, is that going to be the longest 11-day case of basketball blue balls ever.

Themes: Rebounding, getting some help from the guys who aren't four-year starters or the greatest point guard to ever live, and rebounding. This will not change for a while, apparently.

The BU student paper is all "Wahhh we have the toughest non-conference schedule in the country" and I'm like "Wahhh maybe you should've played crappier teams and got a nice fat W-L record. It's working for St. John's."

(Not to go on a tangent, but does it bother anyone that Syracuse and St. John's are the only two Big East teams that are still undefeated in men's and women's basketball? That's OUR birthright, damn it! No, it's just me that bothers?)

Anyway, the BU paper notes that some key players for BU will not be making the trip to Hartford due to illness and injury, meaning that the Terriers will be extremely shorthanded against a UConn team that right now goes 10 deep.

Interesting Q&A with Mike Anthony and Kyle Lyddy, and the excerpts from the book are rather interesting. Of note, if you're in the Storrs area, Lyddy will be signing copies of the book Sunday afternoon on campus at Ted's.

Reason #875 why I loved last year's team: within minutes of Nate Miles' solemn declaration that he had been expelled from UConn, the rest of the team was laughing along to a hilarious YouTube video. That's my kind of team.

According to Lyddy, Coach Cal called the book "an interesting perspective," meaning he almost certainly didn't read it, but I may have to. I'll even review it for the blog.

Finally, the Daily Campus is having a turf war with the Providence student newspaper, the Cowl. Personally, I wouldn't have gone back at PC with facts or anything. That's too good for them. Just pure, 100% distilled sarcasm.

As a public service, I would encourage all UConn fans to simply ignore Providence College and, really, the entire state of Rhode Island. The last thing any of us needs to do is dirty our hands by scrapping with Bostonian rejects whose main city makes Hartford look like a combination of Paris and Disneyland.

The preview: Please, let this game be over early. There is no reason Boston U should ever hang with UConn in any sport that isn't ice lacrosse.

This is probably the third-worst team on the non-conference schedule (behind Colgate and Maine), so it'd be nice for an early KO and 10-15 minutes of mop-up work by the frosh.

If this game is close at any point in the second half, we're going to have to just sick Blane Dog on all the players until they start playing well.

The prediction:

UConn 86, Boston U 65