In what feels like a return to normalcy for many fans, the UConn men’s basketball team enters a new season with lofty expectations. At Big East media day, the unofficial start of the college basketball season, UConn — which came in at no. 24 in the first AP college basketball poll yesterday and is ranked no. 21 in KenPom — was picked to finish second in the 2021-22 Preseason Big East Coaches Poll behind conference heavyweight Villanova.
The Huskies received one first-place vote as well. This is UConn’s highest preseason ranking since 2016-2017 when the Huskies were picked to finish second in the American Athletic Conference (AAC). Last year, the Huskies exceeded their preseason expectations of fourth by finishing third behind Villanova and Creighton.
Three Huskies also earned individual recognition. Seniors RJ Cole and Tyrese Martin both made the All-Big East preseason second team, while sophomore Adama Sanogo landed on the honorable mention list. Perhaps the only UConn-related gripe with the list is no love for fifth-year senior Isaiah Whaley, the conference’s reigning defensive player of the year.
These preseason expectations signal the trajectory Dan Hurley has this program on. In The Carpenter’s first three years, he instilled a “hunter” mentality to a team that had to claw its way back into national relevancy. Now, UConn is slowly once more becoming the “hunted,” and it will be interesting to see how the team manages the narrative shift.
The Huskies open up their season at home on Tuesday, Nov. 9, against Central Connecticut.