University of Houston Cougars
KenPom: No. 203 Overall (No. 178 Offense, No. 228 Defense), UConn is currently 30 overall.
Head Coach: James Dickey
2013-'14 Record: 8-5
Here we go.
After 34 years in the Big East, UConn will begin play in a brand new conference today. In Houston. Standing at 11-1, the Huskies are coming off back to back wins at Washington and against Eastern Washington in Bridgeport. They are historically 2-0 versus today's opponent: The Houston Cougars.
The Cougars have an opponent in common with UConn, having also lost to Stanford earlier in the year 86-76. The most 'impressive' of their eight wins was against KenPom's 196th ranked Lehigh. In the American's preseason polls, they narrowly edged out USF for the seventh (out of 10) spot in the rankings. James Dickeys team returns three starters from a team that won 20 games last year led by Forward TaShawn Thomas. The preseason AAC Second Team selection currently leads his team in points and rebounds averaging 17.4 and 9.3 respectively. If you're willing to round up Sophomore Forward Jherrod Stiggers' 9.6 ppg, then 4 of their starters average double figure scoring. Their lone big man, 6-foot-10 Sophomore Danrad Knowles, averages 7.4 ppg and 4.5 rpg, so he should present a good match-up against our three headed monster down low: Phylera Nolanderimah.
This is a team that has lost to San Jose State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Louisiana Lafayette, so this should not be a close one. With two tougher games on the horizon the Huskies need to be sharp in the first leg of this two game road trip. Last time out against Eastern Washington, Niels Giffey got the start over Omar Calhoun and Amida Brimah started his second game over Phil Nolan. Both benched players still got 20+ minutes in and scored in the double digits so it seems this adjustment has been beneficial. Brimah only played five minutes, however, so I'm interested to see if Kevin Ollie gives Nolan his starting job back after two good performances off the bench.
For those of you staying in tonight to catch the action, I commend you. I would also like to ask if you want to write a recap for us tomorrow. Just kidding (not really though). Anyway, stay safe and have a great New Years Husky fans!
Prediction: UConn wins 72-60
1/4 @SMU (10-2, No. 48 KenPom)
1/8 vs. Harvard (11-1, No. 33 KenPom) at Gampel
1/11 vs. UCF (8-3, No. 116 KenPom) at Gampel