Back in the National Conversation: UConn Breaks In at No. 19 in USA Today/Coaches Poll

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Kevin Ollie, Rick Pitino, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball

Rick Pitino was predicting where AAC teams would be ranked at Media Day in Memphis this week, and perhaps he had some inside info. He predicted his team, Louisville, would be in the top five, Memphis in the top 15, UConn in the top 20, Cincinnati and Temple perhaps on the fringe.

The USA Today/Coaches poll came out Thursday afternoon, and here’s what we have:

Louisville was No. 3, Memphis No. 13 and the Huskies check in at No. 19. That’s all the love the new conference got in the preseason, but three out of 10 teams in the top 20 certainly indicates a strong, if top-heavy league.
The Huskies garnered 167 points. They were unranked at this time a year ago, but broke into the top 25 after beating Michigan State in the opener. They appeared here and there, but were not ranked at the end of their 20-10 season, in which they were ineligible for postseason play.

Now the Huskies are back on the national stage, playing for championships. Though I thought they might start out a little higher, like top 15, there is certainly no lack of respect at being No. 19. As Kevin Ollie, and Shabazz Napier pointed out again and again, the rank is just a number. It’s a jumping off point.

First Night, which will feature the first ever mixed scrimmage with UConn men’s and women’s players. Doors at Gampel open at 6 p.m. and, of course, I will be there along with my esteemed colleague John Altavilla.

The season opens in Brooklyn, against Maryland, on Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m.
 Kentucky was ranked No. 1, followed by Michigan State, Louisville, Duke and Arizona. The top four teams all got some first-place votes, so there is no clear-cut No. 1 at the moment.

Here is the complete USA Today poll

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