While both the University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball teams reached the Final Four, the word “improbable” in the title should make it clear which one I’m referring to. After sitting out the postseason last year because of an academics-related ban, the men’s squad finished third in the American Athletic Conference this season, three games behind the co-leaders. They were placed in the NCAA Tournament’s East Region as the 7 seed and needed a late comeback and overtime to beat St. Joe’s in Round One.
Two days later they upset Villanova to reach the Sweet 16 in Madison Square Garden. Once there, the Huskies fed off a pro-UConn crowd—and a defense now ranked 10th in the country according to KenPom.com—to beat Iowa State and Michigan State to advance to the Final Four. They will face top overall seed Florida on Saturday in Dallas.
I’ve written two articles directly about UConn this week. I chose junior guard Ryan Boatright as my Rising Star, even though he plays second fiddle to Shabazz Napier in UConn’s backcourt. Boatright’s on-ball defense, ability to get to the free throw line, and knack for hitting big shots have been key to UConn’s NCAA Tournament run. I also wrote about how Napier, Boatright, and other UConn players decided to stay at the school despite the postseason ban, even though several of their teammates did not. “Those who stay will be champions” is a saying that originated at another school in a different sport, but UConn’s players can relate to it.
Lastly, below is a video I shot inside the Garden during a key run for UConn in its win over Michigan State in the Elite Eight last Sunday. Make sure to change the settings (using the “gear” icon) to see the video in high-definition.