Bob Huggins believes that roughly 15 teams could win the NCAA Tournament. Jim Larranaga believes there are 30.
Jim Calhoun, who won three national titles at Connecticut, isn’t willing to go anywhere close to those numbers.
“You got to be a solid basketball team, and you got to be a little different,” Calhoun said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Can you win five? Maybe. Four is really tough. I’m not quite as liberal, I guess, as they are. I really believe that there’s probably six or seven teams that can win it. I think you need certain characteristics. For example, I love Bobby Huggins. Good friend. But I don’t know if you can just press your way to a championship. You got to be able to play multiple different ways. I think the multi-dimensional teams have a much better chance. So I’m going to say six or seven.”
Connecticut may or may not be one of those teams. The Huskies had the conference-tournament game of the year, beating Cincinnati 104-97 in quadruple overtime last Friday in the AAC quarterfinals. The Huskies went on to beat Temple and Memphis in the semifinal and final, respectively, by a combined 29 points.
“I’m incredibly proud of Kevin (Ollie),” Calhoun said of his successor. “Any type of pressure that’s felt, Kevin (handles it). His relationship with his players is terrific. I think sometimes the X’s and O’s are great, but (relationships matter). It’s got to be a tight, tight relationship between the coach and player and they’ve got to believe. Everybody has to believe.”
Connecticut, a 9-seed in the South region, will play No. 8 Colorado on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET.
The Huskies, who have won four national championships since 1999 – and won it all just two seasons ago – have been perhaps the AAC’s most cherished member. Unfortunately for the league, UConn could be on the move again relatively soon, perhaps to the Big 12 or the even the Big Ten.
Calhoun doesn’t know for certain where the Huskies will go – or even if they will go – but he believes it’s a distinct possibility.
“I’m not sure what’s 100 percent best,” he said, “but I do know . . . behind the scenes, I think there’s a lot more movement than people would ever, ever (think). There’s a lot more talk about (realignment). I think they still want to get the most solid teams that can contribute the best in their conference. Everybody is worried about percentage of monies. We know now that schools are collecting $25-26 million per year in conference fees – incredible amounts of money. That allows your school and so many other things to happen. So I don’t know where it all goes, but I do think – and I do know, actually – that UConn certainly is in the midst of that discussion.”