Houston, we have a problem.
But seriously, in two visits to the University of Houston's Hofheinz Pavilion, Kevin Ollie's UConn Huskies have yet to win a game. It's a major problem.
Two years ago, the eventual national champions fell on New Year's Eve, 75-71, with the game looking much worse than the score as the Huskies trailed by double-figures for most of the contest. That Houston team finished the season with a 17-16 record.
Last year, the Cougars again held the lead for most of the game before a frenzied UConn comeback attempt fell short. Houston won, 70-68. It was one of 13 wins for Kelvin Sampson's squad on the season.
The timing is pretty bad for UConn to be visiting this cursed arena today, after falling at Tulsa for its second loss in the American and fifth loss on the season. None of UConn's losses individually are particularly horrible, but the cumulative negative impact of all five on the tournament resumé is significant.
To make matters worse, this Houston team appears to be much better than the previous two. KenPom has Houston (13-3, 3-1 American) ranked 66th in the country and projected to win today by two points.
The Huskies have definitely been missing Amida Brimah, but the major ailment right now is Daniel Hamilton's cold shooting. In the past four games, Hamilton is 10-for-48 from the field. It is admirable for Hamilton to keep shooting confidently when the shots aren't falling, but he could also find better shots to take. His teammates need to work on that as well, as the Huskies have been settling for contested threes early in the shot clock far too often.
Kevin Ollie has been under fire a bit recently, but this isn't exactly an ideal scenario. The first three losses (to very good teams) to start the season had fans feeling a little sour, but these recent losses to Temple and Tulsa kickstarted the heightened scrutiny of Ollie. What we all need to remember is that this team has two starters who weren't on the team last year, a third key contributor that is a freshman, and is currently missing one of the best defensive players in the country.
This is the open thread. Feel free to share your pre-game thoughts, predictions and stick around to discuss the game!