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UConn Men’s Basketball Open Thread: Wagner

The Huskies open the season against Wagner at Gampel Pavilion.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

At long last, here we are.

No more preseason poll banter, hot-take prognostications, and coaches raving out Player X being in the best shape of his life.

All of that becomes irrelevant once the ball is tipped for the first time, which in UConn's case is 7:00 PM ET Friday on SNY against Wagner College.

UConn, ranked #18 in the AP Poll and #16 according to the Coaches Poll, hasn't dropped a season opener since 1999-2000, when it fell to Iowa at Madison Square Garden.

Don't plan on that happening tonight, either.

Wagner is ranked 219th per KenPom. Of the 127 games the Huskies have played versus teams ranked outside KenPom's Top-150, their record is 125-2.

With that being said, Wagner provides UConn with a decent challenge to kick off the 2016-17 campaign.

The Seahawks, fresh off a 23-11 season in which they won the Northeast Conference's regular season title, won an NIT game last year over St. Bonaventure, earning the program's first-ever postseason victory in the process.

Corey Henson (13.3 PPG, 40% 3FG, 114.7 Offensive Rating last year) is a productive three-point shooter who won't look out of place on Friday despite UConn's great backcourt play. Michael Carey (12.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 50% FG) is one of the best rebounding guards in the country, having logged 15 double-doubles last year despite being just 6'5".

And Bashir Mason is one of the best mid-major coaches you've never heard of.

Clearly, there are worse schools out there to open up against from the perspective of UConn, who is looking to get some questions answered tonight.

How will Jalen Adams and Alterique Gilbert coexist in the backcourt? Will Terry Larrier be the impact performer we expect him to be right from the jump? Does Amida Brimah take a step forward in his final go-around? How big a role will the likes of Vance Jackson, Juwan Durham, and Christian Vital play?

Yes, for a Top-20 team nationally, there's no shortage of queries and apprehensions. Remember, there's six legitimate newcomers—the incoming freshmen class, also known as "Top Five", plus Larrier. The potential is mesmerizing—the ceiling could be Elite 8 or beyond—but remember, this is a process.

The beautiful thing is that the guessing game is over. RIP to the speculation. It's time to play ball.