Sunday feels like a long time ago. Tonight, the UConn Huskies (men’s team for those who confuse this time of year with women’s basketball in CT) play the Iowa State Cyclones in the Sweet Sixteen. The Huskies will be playing on very familiar ground in Madison Square Garden. There is no doubt that the MSG venue will be a critical advantage for Shabazz Napier and UConn, and Iowa State will need big performances from its star players to defeat the Huskies on their alternative, “home” court.
You can watch UConn, as well as the rest of the March Madness live here: http://www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live
Three Keys for UConn
- Keep DeAndre Kane OR Melvin Ejim in check. These two guys are dangerous. They both have versatile skill sets and either one can take over a game, much like Kane did against the North Carolina Tar Heels last weekend. It is unlikely that UConn can keep both players off the scoreboard, but they can try and defuse one of them early. I expect Kane to come out hot, while Ejim tries to define his role as the game rolls on. UConn has to make sure he never reaches that definition.
- Play transition defense. The Cyclones are going to try and run. I can’t think of anything more likely to happen on Earth tonight. If the Huskies get trapped into taking late, shot-clock three pointers, the least they can do is get back on defense. Any lapses on that end will be painful and I am sure coach Kevin Ollie is preaching this to his team.
- Play to the crowd. The MSG advantage is something most teams would kill for this time of year. UConn will have at least 60-70% of the crowd on their side tonight, and need to get them involved early. Big shots must be celebrated with one or two seconds of emotion towards the crowd. If Iowa State calls a timeout, get the crowd even more pumped so they are still going after the break.
The game airs at 7:27 p.m. EST on TBS. The game won’t be on Netflix or Hulu Plus for all of us cable-dodging geniuses…but you can watch it online here: http://www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live