Although the Connecticut Huskies are coming off a win against Coppin State, the Huskies before that game lost two games off buzzer-beater shots. To be completely honest, if the Huskies defended better on the buzzer-beater shots, they would be 6-1 and most certainly a Top-25 team. Although the defending National Champions haven’t gotten off to the start they wanted to, they will have a great chance to get their season back on track by playing the No. 2 ranked Duke Blue Devils.
Right now, besides Kentucky, Duke is easily one of the best teams in all of college basketball. Led by stud freshman Jahlil Okafor and senior Quinn Cook, the Blue Devils are a team many are picking to win it all. To top it all off, one of the best young coaches in in Kevin Ollie will go up against one of the best coaches in the history of college basketball in Mike Krzyzewski. These two teams have gotten off to opposite starts, but the Huskies are in search of a needed win and they can greatly help their tournament resume, albeit it’s still early, with a win against the Blue Devils.
For the Huskies, it will be up to the play of guards Ryan Boatright and Rodney Purvis to establish themselves and dictate the pace of this game. Also, UConn has to limit the turnovers, which has been a huge problem in 2014. Against Coppin State, Amida Brimah had his best game ever with a 40-point, 12-rebound performance. Going up against one of the premier big men in all of college basketball in Okafor will be a challenge, but Brimah is a towering body and he is someone Okafor hasn’t seen before. That being said, if Brimah has another good performance, the Huskies will come away with this one.
With all of the hoorah for this game, the Huskies know that it’s now or never for a team that has lost three out of their last four. UConn isn’t the same team it was last year, mainly because they’re without stars Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels, but the future is still bright for this team considering they still have Ollie, Boatright, and Brimah. Knowing this win could be huge, I have the Huskies pulling off the upset. Call me crazy, but I believe Ollie will find a way to shut down Okafor and limit the Blue Devils on offense. Stopping Duke’s offense is the key to victory, and although they haven’t shown it all year, Ollie’s group is a great defensive team.
The Pick: UConn
*Section Photo credit to Jeff Gammons, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark Dolejs, USA Today Sports