Despite suffering their first loss of the season with a Thanksgiving day loss to Michigan State, UConn men’s basketball continues to climb in the AP Top 25. With overtime wins over then No. 19 Auburn and VCU last week, the Huskies are now ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll. UConn remains at roughly the same spot in KenPom, coming in at No. 20.
Auburn dropped to No. 21 in this week’s poll, while Michigan State rose to No. 22 thanks in part to their win over UConn last week. St. Bonaventure, who UConn plays next week, received 106 votes and was just outside the top 25.
Aside from UConn, Villanova and Seton Hall are also ranked from the Big East at No. 6 and No. 25 respectively. Xavier received 46 votes this week.
While the Huskies didn’t take home the Battle 4 Atlantis title in the Bahamas, UConn showed it can hang with some of the toughest teams in the country in its first real glimpse of competition this season. Even though the Huskies struggled closing out Auburn, the team rallied back and stuck around to break through for a win in double overtime. UConn did go through lapses offensively and defensively to allow teams back in the game all week in the Bahamas, but Dan Hurley should be able to adjust for that going forward by trusting a deep bench unit to provide a spark on both ends.
The VCU game was about as ugly as college basketball could get, but thanks to a gutsy performance from Isaiah Whaley, who missed the Michigan State game after fainting after the win against Auburn, UConn was able to pull through and secure a win to get to 6-1 on the season. Perhaps most impressive of all, VCU and Michigan State were ranked in the top five in KenPom in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. The fact that UConn was able to produce enough offensively to win one game and stick around in another bodes well for the future — it’s possible scoring may not be as big of an issue as originally anticipated following the departure of James Bouknight.
This week, UConn has another incredibly easy stretch of basketball, taking on Maryland Eastern-Shore (No. 351 out of 358 in KenPom) and Grambling State (No. 328) at home. Both matchups figure to be easy wins for the Huskies and should serve as tune ups for a tougher slate the following week that includes West Virginia on the road as part of the Big East/Big 12 Challenge and St. Bonaventure in Newark, New Jersey for the Never Forget Tribute Classic.