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Bracketology 101: UConn’s current NCAA tournament prospects

Taking a look at where UConn stands as they hope to make their first NCAA tournament under Dan Hurley.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Though the pandemic has created a turbulent season thus far, leading to multiple team pauses and canceled games, the UConn men’s basketball team has officially played 15 regular-season games. In other words, they are now eligible for the NCAA tournament, having passed the 13 game requirement. At this point in time, UConn making the tournament is definitely not a given, but the Huskies have many more chances to prove they belong in the field of 68. Below, we take a look at where a few of the more reputable bracketology websites currently have UConn projected.

ESPN Bracketology - Joe Lunardi (as of 2/16/21) ($)

Current Projection: First Four Out

CBS Bracket Predictions (As of 2/15/21)

Current Projection: No. 9 Seed

Matchup Prediction: vs. No. 8 seed Louisville

USA Today Bracketology (as of 2/18/21)

Current Projection: First four out

NCAA.com - Andy Katz (as of 2/16/21)

Current Projection: No. 10 seed

Matchup Prediction: vs. No. 7 seed Oklahoma State

The Athletic ($)

Current Projection: Work to do (as opposed to “should be in”)

Right now, it’s safe to say that UConn is squarely on the bubble. With their current resume, it’s fairly easy to make an argument either in favor or against them making the NCAA tournament. With semi-questionable losses to St. John’s and Providence, but solid wins over USC and Xavier, the body of work for the Huskies is tough to evaluate. However, one thing is certain. UConn has more than ample opportunity to solidify a spot in the field of 68, with their first test coming this Saturday at No. 10 Villanova, which could be the most important game of the season to date.

Everyone who watches the UConn men’s team knows that this season has been an emotional one. It felt like the program was finally fully transitioning into the Dan Hurley era, with multiple high-level talents in James Bouknight and RJ Cole and some exciting unknowns like Tyrese Martin, Andre Jackson and Adama Sanogo going into the season. It was going well too, with quality wins, no bad losses, and a legitimate superstar having emerged in Bouknight.

However, that all came tumbling down when Bouknight went down with an elbow injury suffer during the Marquette game and the season’s balance hung in limbo. The Bouk-less period for the Huskies was a rollercoaster, as the team won the first two games but then dropped four of the next five. However, Bouknight is now back, and UConn has won the past two games in convincing fashion, even while he was out for the first of those two wins. Currently, the season’s prospects have looked as good as they have all year, heading into the final five games of the regular season. UConn is now the healthiest they have been since the beginning of the year.

Plus, the NCAA tournament committee has been known to be lenient with injuries when judging a team’s season. If Bouknight and the Huskies can finish the season strong, it could be enough to show the committee that The rough stretch earlier this season was solely due to Bouknight’s absence.

As we mentioned in takeaways from the Providence game, Bouknight’s return to the court appeared to be virtually seamless, and if he can get back to his pre-injury self, Dan Hurley’s squad has more than enough at their disposal to not only make the big dance, but to go on a deep run. If Akok Akok can also become healthier and find that elite shot-blocking ability he flashed last year, he and Whaley could form one of the most dominant rim-protecting duos in the country. The potential on this team when healthy is legitimately scary. Especially with the overall down year for the college basketball blue bloods.

It is not out of the question for UConn to win out in the regular season. If they can get past Villanova this weekend, their remaining games are against an underperforming Marquette team, Georgetown twice, and a rematch with a solid Seton Hall squad. Even with one extra loss before the conference tournament, if they can get to the Big East Championship game in fairly convincing fashion, which is definitely in the realm of possibility, UConn could see themselves with a top-six seed. Don’t forget the 2011 team went from ninth place in the conference to begin the Big East tournament and started the NCAA’s with a three seed.