Ready for the fall season to end and the interminable winter to begin? If you’re a UConn basketball fan (or, let’s face it, a UConn football fan), you probably are! Good news for you—the basketball teams are both going to have fun years yet again, and the season is right around the corner.
There’s excitement for the men’s team for the first time in a few seasons, and with good reason, as they’re primed for a quick turnaround. But a team can only be good by beating its opponents, so the strength of its competition will be incredibly important for a team seeking an immediate rebuild. Here’s a look at who the Huskies will play this year, starting with the complete schedule:
2018-2019 UConn Men’s Basketball Schedule
|Friday, Nov. 2||7:00 PM||Southern Connecticut (Ex.)||Gampel Pavilion||None|
|Thursday, Nov. 8||7:00 PM||Morehead State||Gampel Pavilion||TBA|
|Sunday, Nov. 11||TBA||UMKC||Gampel Pavilion||TBA|
|Thursday, Nov. 15||7:00 PM||Syracuse||Madison Square Garden||ESPN2|
|Friday, Nov. 16||4:30pm/6:30pm||Oregon/Iowa||Madison Square Garden||ESPN2/ESPNU|
|Tuesday, Nov. 20||7:00 PM||Cornell||XL Center||TBA|
|Saturday, Nov. 24||Noon||UNH||XL Center||TBA|
|Tuesday, Nov. 27||7:00 PM||UMass-Lowell||Gampel Pavilion||TBA|
|Sunday, Dec. 2||1:00 PM||Arizona||XL Center||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, Dec. 5||7:00 PM||Lafayette||XL Center||TBA|
|Saturday, Dec. 8||6:30 PM||Florida State||Newark, NJ||ESPN2|
|Saturday, Dec. 15||TBA||Manhattan||Gampel Pavilion||TBA|
|Tuesday, Dec. 18||7:00 PM||Drexel||XL Center||TBA|
|Saturday, Dec. 22||12:30 PM||Villanova||Madison Square Garden||CBS|
|Wednesday, Jan. 2||8:30 PM||@ USF||Tampa, FL||CBSSN|
|Saturday, Jan. 5||Noon||UCF||XL Center||ESPNews|
|Thursday, Jan. 10||7:00 PM||SMU||Gampel Pavilion||CBSSN|
|Saturday, Jan. 12||8:00 PM||@ Cincinnati||Cincinnati, OH||ESPN2/ESPNU|
|Wednesday, Jan. 16||7:00 PM||@ Tulsa||Tulsa, OK||ESPNews|
|Saturday, Jan. 19||7:30 PM||Tulane||Gampel Pavilion||CBSSN|
|Saturday, Jan. 26||6:00 PM||Wichita State||Gampel Pavilion||CBSSN|
|Thursday, Jan. 31||9:00 PM||@ UCF||Orlando, FL||ESPN2/ESPNU|
|Sunday, Feb. 3||2:00 PM||ECU||XL Center||ESPNews|
|Wednesday, Feb. 6||6:00 PM||@ Temple||Philadephia, PA||CBSSN|
|Sunday, Feb. 10||2:00 PM||@ Memphis||Memphis, TN||CBSSN|
|Thursday, Feb. 14||7:00 PM||Houston||XL Center||ESPN/ESPN2|
|Thursday, Feb. 26||9:00 PM||@ SMU||Dallas, TX||ESPN/ESPN2|
|Sunday, Feb. 24||2:00 PM||Cincinnati||XL Center||ESPN|
|Thursday, Feb. 28||7:00 PM||@ Wichita State||Wichita, KS||ESPN/ESPN2|
|Sunday, Mar. 3||Noon||USF||Gampel Pavilion||CBSSN|
|Thursday, Mar. 7||7:00 PM||Temple||Gampel Pavilion||CBSSN|
|Sunday, Mar. 10||2:00 PM||@ ECU||Greenville, NC||ESPNU|
In non-conference play, the Huskies do not play a true road game, playing three neutral site games in New York City and one more in Newark, New Jersey. Apart from helping to reignite the fanbase, the frequency of home games early in the season will also get the team comfortable in a familiar setting as they try to change their identity from the previous few seasons.
They begin with Morehead State and UMKC, two minor-conference teams, only average in their own leagues, who should not provide much of a challenge. From there, UConn gets its first test in Syracuse at Madison Square Garden, and it’s a real test—the Orange project to be very good this season as Jim Boeheim’s squad retains virtually every contributor from last year.
The next day, they’ll play either Iowa or Oregon in the same building, and either would be tough; they’re both solid teams, but Oregon has the higher potential if everything goes right for the Ducks. Winning either of these two games would be a statement win for the Huskies.
UConn returns home in the last week of November to take on a trio of regional teams—Cornell, New Hampshire and UMass-Lowell. This is the weakest stretch on their schedule this year, and losing any of these three games would be bad news. Cornell is likely to be the best of these opponents, but that’s not saying much, as the Big Red are projected to be in the bottom half of the Ivy League, and New Hampshire and UMass-Lowell are among the America East’s worst teams.
That stretch will be mostly a tuneup for UConn’s biggest home game of the year, an early December contest against Arizona. This seems like it will be a major down year for the Wildcats, who lost many contributors (including No. 1 overall NBA draft pick DeAndre Ayton) and face a series of off-court distractions related to the corruption issue sweeping major college basketball programs. For fans, it’s disappointing to have a major program come into town when they don’t have many exciting players, but it does make the game easier to win.
The Huskies follow that up with a contest against Patriot League patsy Lafayette, and then start preparing for the Newark contest against Florida State. The Seminoles are also in the top group of ACC teams, and despite some turnover shouldn’t have any attrition from last year’s Elite Eight team. Credit should be given to the scheduling for finding different ways to challenge the team but also making sure they have games they can win in between.
The intermediate opponents between Florida State and the next huge non-conference game are Manhattan and Drexel, who both project to be among the very worst teams in their minor conferences. Those are two winnable games before the schedule’s centerpiece, another MSG game against reigning champion/current rival/former conference rival Villanova.
Jay Wright’s Nova squad is certainly the most prestigious opponent the Huskies will face all year, and although they lost a lot of talented players, they aren’t vulnerable. Like Syracuse, they’re an adversary UConn is unlikely to beat this season, but a worthwhile test for a team that needs some tough opponents.
That marks the end of UConn’s non-conference schedule, and with it the end of their streak of not playing a true road game. The Huskies open their conference schedule at USF before returning home to face two of the AAC’s toughest in SMU and UCF.
A mid-January road trip takes them to Cincinnati and Tulsa, then come two winnable home games against Tulane and Wichita State (who have also been projected to have a down year, even if that claim is a bit hard for me to believe before I see it) before wrapping up January at UCF. This might be the toughest full month in UConn’s conference schedule.
UConn’s February campaign starts at home against East Carolina (a game they better win), and then goes south for road games at Temple and Memphis, another team with revitalized fan interest trying to make a quick turnaround. They’ll return home for a quick game a depleted but stout Houston team, then travel all the way to Texas to play SMU for the second time.
Those two games make up the toughest four-game stretch the Huskies play all year, as the next two contests are home against Cincinnati and at Wichita State, marking all four of the “traditional” AAC powers (outside of the Huskies themselves, of course). Thankfully they should be able to offset that strength of schedule with a couple wins, as well as with beatable teams early in February.
The regular season concludes in March with home games against USF and Temple before going on the road to ECU. UConn, at worst, should win two of these games in preparation for the AAC Tournament in Memphis.
There’s tough stretches on UConn’s schedule this season, but also ones where the Huskies should be able to pick up relatively easy wins. The Huskies’ success this year will depend on how many games they win in between those two extremes. The intermediate games could make or break the Huskies season again.