Last time UConn men’s hoops was playing, Kevin Ollie’s squad suited up seven scholarship players as the Huskies fought valiantly but lost to Ohio State on the road. Hopefully, everyone is fully healthy and available today because they cannot afford any more hiccups against weaker opponents in the non-conference slate.
North Florida enters today’s contest as the 252nd-ranked team in KenPom, UConn is currently 81st. The Ospreys have a 4-9 record, but have only beaten one Division 1 team in those four wins. They have faced a challenging schedule, taking on Auburn, Miami, Florida, Syracuse, and Arkansas already this season. Besides Syracuse, which ended 77-71, none of those games were very close, but it’s still safe to say this team, though not very good, won’t be intimidated by UConn.
The Huskies have one more non-conference game after this, against Auburn, before kicking off the Amerian Athletic Conference slate against Houston on December 28. The start of the season has been, to put it lightly, challenging but the emergence of Jalen Adams as a go-to player and Kentan Facey as a capable power forward provide hope for this team going forward. Senior Rodney Purvis has also started to string together some solid performances after a rough start to the season.
Is this team figuring itself out? We’ll see. Free throw shooting is still abysmal and foul trouble can disarm them at any time, but the Huskies have at least looked competent in their last two games, which is an improvement from the start of the season.
Today, in the first-ever meeting between these two teams, it would be great to see UConn do something it has failed to do all year: comfortably take care of an inferior opponent. Even if three scholarship players are not available, even if Purvis or Adams has an off shooting night, there is no reason for the Huskies not to win this one handily, except that we have already seen them falter against similar opponents or look mostly unimpressive even in victory.
This is the open thread. Feel free to share your pre-game thoughts and predictions and stick around to discuss the game with your fellow fan!