Is This a Second Yankee Stand?
~ by Amy Lignor
Yes, once upon a time the UCONN Huskies – both women and men – came to the Final Four and both went home NCAA champions. Let us just say, Connecticut Yankees held their heads very high up that year. Of course, with a consistently winning girls team, and no strangers to a winning boys team – UCONN has certainly been able to celebrate a long history of honor and respect in the realm of basketball.
Now, however, there are two ways this championship could go. 1) The Yankees take it all once again (with the women being the ‘given’ and the men being the ‘upset’, or; 2) The upset could be had, while the women who everyone bets on actually loses to Notre Dame. Whichever way it goes it will definitely be interesting to watch. Yes, there is a choice #3 of both UCONN teams being laid out by Kentucky on the boys side and Notre Dame on the girls – but that would be the biggest upset of all time.
Now, the President of the United States called for UCONN women to win the NCAAW title this year. He spoke to the fact that he assumed Notre Dame would be their challengers when everything was said and done. Which is true, yet definitely not a surprise considering Notre Dame is the only other undefeated team this year. So, it makes sense that the best would face the other best.
But when it comes to the UCONN men, the Huskies came into the Final Four as the 7th seed – a placement that had them basically erased from fans’ minds before the Sweet Sixteen even began. This is only the second time a 7th seed has made it to the Final Four, not to mention the championship. And not only that, but they are a team with a brand new coach who has shown his abilities to the maximum.
Some may not remember, as they watch the UCONN men take charge of each game (just ask the #1 Florida Gators who looked more than a bit confused that these Yankees knocked them off their feet over the weekend); but back in the very beginning of March, the Huskies were not even ranked in a poll – neither the USA Today Coaches Poll or the AP listed their name. Their losses were significant early on, with UCONN dropping to Houston and SMU right off the bat.
Let’s just say the new coach took charge and found a way to bring these men together so they would look a bit more like their sister team – the women under old Gino who never seem to lose. (And, of course, have not this year.).
The Gators were the odds-on favorites to put UCONN in their place and make sure the 7th seed understood that Florida was the first seed for a reason. Coming in with 30 games played and won in a row after losing to, oh…UCONN months ago, the Gators were ready to show up tonight at the final and take it all.
And they actually looked like they would do just that. The Huskies were on the losing side in the first half when the clock read only 8:57. Unfortunately for the Gators, Kevin Ollie (who would only be the second coach in NCAA history to win this title in his debut season), brought his team out of their confusion so UCONN would take the game.
This night will be more than interesting. Either UCONN will win their ‘first’ NCAA championship for the year, with the women following tomorrow night to raise their trophy as well. Or…Kentucky could keep doing what they’ve been doing and in the final seconds throw a three-pointer that bursts the Yankee bubble!