Column: A temporary something special
UConn's new conference has a lot of potential for men's basketball
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 00:10
For what it’s worth for men’s basketball, this whole American Athletic Conference experiment may not be such a bad idea.
Not to be hypocritical; I’m guilty of hating on the new conference myself. In a column following the latest denial for UConn into the ACC last spring, I called the then-recently named conference nothing more than a “daycare center for schools that apparently have football programs.” But now with the conference’s first men’s basketball media day behind us, there is definitely some growing excitement heading into The American’s inaugural men’s basketball season, and for good reason.
With two of the past three national champions in UConn and Louisville highlighting the 10-team conference this season, it will be hard-pressed to say that there is a lack of talent. Memphis, Cincinnati and even Temple have legitimate shots too of either starting the season ranked or cracking into the Top 25 soon after the action starts. And, thankfully, UConn won’t be too strapped for national coverage after months last year of worrying over how often Husky games would be on the big stage.
Specifically, UConn’s national spotlight will be brightest when ESPN’s College Gameday returns to Storrs for a Jan. 18 meeting with Louisville.
Additionally, UConn will host two games for the 2K Sports Classic against Detroit and Boston University on Nov. 14 and Nov. 17, respectively, before travelling to Madison Square Garden for two more games against Boston College and then Indiana or Washington. The Huskies will also be travelling to New York City to start their season on Nov. 8 against Maryland at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. These aforementioned highlights may not be direct results of The American, but it’s a sign that this new conference truly isn’t the end of the world like many of us once thought.
Unfortunately though, the conference is on a rapidly ticking clock. Rutgers and Louisville will soon be leaving The American for greener pastures, and the likes of the untested (to say the least) Tulane, Tulsa, and East Carolina are in line to take their places.
Though other upstart programs such as Larry Brown’s SMU are also interesting candidates to help legitimize the conference, it will still undoubtedly be a conference where the Huskies have little competition competing for a conference title every single year (both a positive and a negative in a sense).
But even if the horizon still looks uncertain for how long the Huskies will call The American their home, the men’s basketball season should have as many exciting moments as it has in recent memory, especially surrounding a UConn team with as much potential as many Husky teams in recent years.
As strange a situation it might be for the Huskies to be in, The American will undoubtedly provide UConn with plenty of excitement, high profile games and consistent competition.
Well, for now at least.