UConn fans have been crowing about the scheduling for the men's basketball team this year- and rightfully so. Playing teams that are rated 322nd, 229th, 263rd, 292nd, 318th and 348th by KenPom in the non-conference schedule is not ideal given the dearth of quality opponents on the American Athletic Conference schedule.
Despite holding an 8-3 record, the Huskies are ranked 119th in the RPI. I know it's early in the season, but opportunities to make significant gains there are dwindling.
UConn still has had chances to earn quality wins but, unfortunately, whiffed on three of the best ones against Syracuse, Gonzaga, and Maryland. A neutral-site win over Michigan and a big victory at home against Ohio State currently stand as the best wins on the non-conference slate going into tonight's game against Texas, where tip-off in Austin has been pushed to 9:10 p.m. on ESPN2.
That Ohio State team which UConn downed had lost four games already going into the tilt with UConn, dropping contests to UT-Arlington, Lousiana Tech, and Memphis. A win over Kentucky has spiked the Buckeyes' ratings, but still UConn needs better wins.
There is one more game on the non-conference schedule after tonight, a home date with former Big East rival Georgetown on January 23rd. The Hoyas already have five losses on the season, falling at home to Radford, Monmouth and UNC-Ashville.
It all adds up to UConn really needing this win tonight. If they are the kind of team which we think they are, they need this win for their resumé.
Not having Amida Brimah will, of course, hurt them dearly. But the Longhorns will be without their starting center as well, as Cameron Ridley is out with a broken foot. Tonight's game will probably feature a lot of small ball, and the opposition will have an assistant in R.J. Evans who knows the program well, but UConn needs to find a way to win tonight.
The Longhorns have shaken off a rough start to win six straight games, including an upset over No. 3 North Carolina on a last-second shot at home.
This will be a tough, exciting game pitting two evenly matched teams against each other. Hopefully, the Huskies can get something from backups Kentan Facey and Steve Enoch and not have to adjust too much without Brimah. They will also need big performances from lead guards Rodney Purvis and Sterling Gibbs- who will be making a return to Austin after playing at Texas for three years.
Prediction: UConn tightens the guard rotation and Shonn Miller has a good game down low as the Huskies take a five-point win, 73-68.