How to Watch
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Streaming: FOX Sports Go
Location: Madison Square Garden
Records: UConn 14-6 (11-6) | DePaul 5-13 (2-13)
KenPom Rankings: UConn – 22 | DePaul – 124
Previous Meetings This Season
The UConn Huskies and DePaul Blue Demons are set to square off in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at 9:00. These teams met twice in the regular season, with UConn sweeping the season series 2-0. As Providence found out last night though, it can be difficult to beat a team three times in a year. Can the Huskies keep their momentum rolling or will DePaul take down the red-hot Huskies?
I usually like to focus on metrics during the regular season, but towards the end of the year, and especially come post season play, it is a new season. Metrics go out the window. It’s the Big East Tournament at MSG, anything can happen. That’s how a team like DePaul comfortably handles a much better (at least according to records and stats) Providence team last night.
The Blue Demons looked like a team that was not ready for their season to end. The return of Javon Freeman-Liberty (14 PPG, 5.4 RPG) certainly helped their cause. Freeman-Liberty and Charlie Moore both put up 21 points against Providence while shooting a high percentage. No one else on DePaul reached double figures, and Pauly Paulicap scored only a single point. In the post season, effort cannot be discounted. DePaul dominated the glass (34-22) and had an answer each time Providence seemed to be making a push back into the game. Both teams played a bit sloppy though; DePaul did have 15 turnovers and 24 personal fouls. These numbers won’t cut it if DePaul wants to pull off a much bigger upset over Connecticut.
The Huskies are the hottest team in the Big East and have been a popular pick to win the Big East Tournament, an exciting storyline for their first season back in the league. UConn has won 6 of their last 7, the lone loss coming at Villanova. Five of those six wins have come by double digits. The Huskies offensive prowess finally seems to have caught up with their defense. This is bad news for opponents. UConn has held the top adjusted defense in the conference for most of the season. Now their offense is starting to click as well. A balanced offensive attack makes the Huskies a dangerous team, as they have plenty of options for scoring. They, of course, are led by RJ Cole and James Bouknight, but don’t forget about their senior anchors Isaiah Whaley (co-defensive player of the year) and Tyler Polley (sixth man of the year). Dan Hurley will look to keep his team playing with a chip on their shoulder. Fans can rejoice as the Huskies finished third in the regular season, but Hurley knows there is much work left to be done. Just like the metrics, regular season standings sometimes go out the window during March Madness. No team can be overlooked.
DePaul is not a team that can be overlooked. They have a lot of individual talent on their team, they just haven’t been able to put it together this season. It’s easy to blame Covid, but DePaul’s season didn’t get started until conference play, when some teams in the league were already closing in on double digit games played. Not saying that the Blue Demons would have won the league or anything, but they do have a skilled senior who isn’t ready for his college career to end, in Charlie Moore. The Huskies are comfortably in the NCAA Tournament, but a loss to DePaul would certainly hurt their seed line. UConn hasn’t played in nearly a week and will have to play their patented team defense in order to put an end to the Blue Demon’s season. But, like I said, it’s the Big East Tournament at MSG, anything can happen.