Happy Thanksgiving, UConn Country! Forget about all the usual stuff: the family gatherings, the turkey, the football. Today is about something so much bigger.
UConn and Syracuse are back on the floor together.
The No. 18 Huskies (4-0) take on the Orange (4-0) in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis. UConn and Syracuse have not met since Feb. 13, 2013, when the unranked-and-banned Huskies knocked off the No. 6 Orange 66-58 at the XL Center.
The reunion comes at a time when both teams are playing fairly well. Both teams are 4-0, but Syracuse has yet to have a test against a major program. The Orange have defeated Charlotte, Lehigh, St. Bonaventure and Elon by an average margin of 11.75 points.
UConn defeated a Big 10 power, Michigan, 74-60 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Wednesday night. The Huskies' average margin of victory through four games against Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine and Furman is 25.5 points.
The Huskies have gotten a lot of practice against the zone so far this season, which is good, because Syracuse will deploy its notorious zone defense all game Thursday. Against Michigan, the Huskies did a good job of penetrating and getting to the rim. Their offense is versatile, which should give them an edge. Daniel Hamilton can dominate inside and out. Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis—and even Sam Cassell Jr.—can get hot from the perimeter. Where UConn has often struggled against Syracuse is getting the ball inside to the bigs. Amida Brimah and Shonn Miller need to create chances inside.
UConn has done a good job of forcing opponents to the perimeter this season, but Purvis and Jalen Adams will need to do a good job of pressuring Michael Gbinije, who shot 6 of 8 from deep against Charlotte Wednesday. Opponents have a 30 percent 3-point percentage against the Huskies. UConn's defense ranks 30th in the nation in that category, according to Ken Pomeroy. Syracuse is 59th in the nation with a 39.6 3-point percentage.
The trolling from both sides has been remarkable. The UConn Blog has been doing its part for the good guys, but the good guys themselves may have won the social media battle already.
Sadly, this tweet was deleted.
The winner of this game plays the winner of the Gonzaga-Texas A&M game in Friday's championship. Of course, UConn has some great tournament history with Gonzaga, so maybe there will be another opportunity for reminiscing tomorrow.
For today, share your thoughts on the game in the thread below. There should be plenty to talk about, like how many ring Jim Boeheim has.