The Bracket Big Board takes into consideration past returns, current performance and expected future gains in determining who should be included among the field of 65 (31 automatic and 34 at-large bids). Essentially, the Bracket Big Board is a cheat sheet designed for amateur bracketologists if they were filling out a Tourney Pick ‘Em '10 (SIGN UP NOW!!!) entry today. The Bracket Big Board is updated every Monday until the dance card is officially unveiled March 14.
Despite dropping a critical matchup with Louisville on Sunday Senior Day, Connecticut's motto on campus still remains: "Yes UCann."
Plagued by underachievement and extraneous circumstances no team could prepare for, the once lifeless Huskies are revived. The return of head coach Jim Calhoun, who missed several games with health problems, has sparked his team to three wins in its past four - two against highly ranked foes Villanova and West Virginia. The transformation is nothing short of miraculous. Recall just two weeks ago, UConn's tournament chances was on par with the Nutmeg State avoiding another Nor'easter - slim. At 14-11 overall and 4-8 in conference play on February 13, the disoriented Huskies were seemingly destined for the Not Invited Tournament.
Now 17-12 (7-9 in conference) they're on the brink of bouncing off the bubble and into the tourney field.
The primary reason why UConn has emerged from the dead: Kemba Walker.
The catalytic force has rapidly ascended into the Pantheon of college point guards. Last season coming off the bench, he played unrestrained. His poor decision making led to numerous turnovers. But in his second season, some of the matured point guard's rough edges have smoothed. Though missteps occasionally have happened - he's averaged 3.1 turnovers per game - his ability to push the tempo, create, distribute, draw contact and, most notably, score (23.5 ppg in his last four), has almost single-handedly propelled the Huskies into the at-large picture. Walker's brutally honest coach recently spoke highly of the sophomore's development:
"Kemba Walker is one of the best point guards in the country, I don't have any question in my mind about that," Calhoun said. "It's a joy for me to coach him and watch him play."
However, there's no time for complacency.
With three BEASTly teams - Louisville, UConn and Notre Dame - potentially fighting for two NCAA spots, Calhoun's club can ill-afford another setback. Wednesday's road clash in South Bend could ultimately decide its tournament fate. Still, with nine wins against the RPI 100 - more than at-large locks BYU, Texas, Texas A&M, Maryland, Oklahoma St. and Ohio St. - a disastrous final two weeks may not completely crush dancing hopes. Keep in mind the Huskies, who've played the second-toughest schedule in the country, have lost seven games by five points or less. The Selection Committee will also weigh Calhoun's extended absence heavily.
If UConn does sneak into the Field of 65, consider it, similar to major conference underdogs Arizona and Wisconsin last year, a diseased Cinderella no one wants a one-night stand with.
Offensively, the Huskies are doughboy soft interiorly, but the same cannot be said on the opposite end. Challenging opponents down low by bodying up and swatting shots, they rank in the top 12 nationally in two-point field goal percentage defense and block percentage. Overall, they're No. 28 in defensive efficiency. Add that with Uconn's incredible ability to get to the line, and this is a team which could wreak considerable bracket havoc.
Beware of these dogs.
Here are the movers and shakers on this week's Triple-B:
On the Bubble: St. Mary's (24-5), Dayton (19-9), Minnesota (17-11), San Diego St. (20-8), Mississippi (19-9), Charlotte (19-9)
Dropped Out: Dayton, San Diego St., St. Mary's, Robert Morris
Conference Breakdown: American East (1), ACC (7), Atlantic Sun (1), Atlantic 10 (4), Big 12 (7), Big East (9), Big Sky (1), Big South (1), Big Ten (5), Big West (1), Colonial (1), Conference USA (2), Horizon (1), Ivy (1), Metro (1), Mid-American (1), Mid-Eastern (1), Missouri Valley (1), Mountain West (3), Northeast (1), Ohio Valley (1), Pac-10 (1), Patriot (1), SEC (4), Southern (1), Southland (1), SWAC (1), Summit (1), Sun Belt (1), West Coast (1), WAC (1)
Image courtesy of US Presswire