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UConn Men's Basketball: It's personal now for Rodney Purvis, and it should be

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The nation will say otherwise, but there is reason to believe the 2016 NCAA Tournament will end with UConn cutting nets.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

You may recall last year's ESPN college basketball player rankings, when the worldwide leader declared Rodney Purvis the 83rd-best player in the country.

You may also recall Purvis did not take too kindly to that.

Thursday morning, ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg claimed Kentucky's backcourt of Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe and Jamal Murray "could be" the best in the country. A fan responded, suggesting UConn's backcourt of Purvis, Sterling Gibbs and Jalen Adams could be as strong. The fan tagged the three players, and Greenberg responded with all three players still mentioned by saying they are "not in the same class."

Purvis didn't like that, either.

If the roles were reversed, if Purvis, Adams and Gibbs were wearing Kentucky blue and Ulis, Briscoe and Murray were playing in Gampel, the latter group would be considered inferior. So long as the shirt says "UConn," it will not get the same respect as Kentucky or Duke.

Forget about this...

Or this...

I always love the lack of respect UConn gets on the national landscape. It makes the success so much sweeter. Doug Gottlieb predicted UConn would lose in every game it played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. People questioned whether the Huskies should make the tournament in 2014. The world picked Duke convincingly in 1999.

No one else is going to pick UConn to be a contender this year, not after a first-round exit in the NIT, so allow me to present to you my official 2015-16 UConn men's basketball prediction.

UConn is going back to the Final Four in 2016, and UConn is going to win the national championship.

This has the makings of one of those years for UConn. One year, the Huskies fall flat on their faces. They are doubted, forgotten, left for dead. It has only gotten worse in recent years.

The next year is usually a lot better, and the best ones end in Texas.

A bad year in 2007-08 was followed by a Final Four. A bad year in 2009-10 was followed by a national championship in Houston. A bad year in 2011-12 was followed by two amazing years: arguably the best non-championship season in program history and then a championship season, which ended in Dallas.

Last year was a bad year. This year's Final Four is in Houston. This is UConn's year.

On paper, this is arguably the best—certainly the deepest—UConn team since at least the 2008-09 season. That season ended with UConn's fourth trip to the Final Four, and the only time it lost there.

UConn lost three "contributors" from last season this summer: Ryan Boatright, Terrence Samuel and Rakim Lubin. Samuel and Lubin were bit-part role players. Boatright is one of UConn's all-time best, but there was something telling about the way the Huskies played against SMU and Arizona State without their captain. We saw a glimpse of the 2015-16 Huskies, and that was before adding in the potential production of Gibbs, Shonn Miller, Adams and Steve Enoch.

This team is going to be quite good.

Daniel Hamilton is going to be an unstoppable freak this season. Amida Brimah is going to come back stronger. But UConn's fate could rest on the shoulders of Purvis. Last season was good, not great. Purvis can be great. For UConn to win the championship this year, Purvis has to be great.

Purvis told me last year he wants to be a leader, and he thinks he already is a leader on this team. Maybe it isn't a bad thing Greenberg tweeted directly at him. Now he can go back, look at that tweet whenever he wants. More importantly, he can be reminded of his own response.

Once again, it's UConn against the world. You know what we say about that around here...

"The other guy may in fact be the favorite. The odds may be stacked against you, fair enough..."