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Burning questions in the AAC for 2013-14
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On August 31, 2013 @ 2:19 am In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Is it March yet? Hardly. With the NCAA tournament far in the rearview mirror and Midnight Madness creeping up, USA TODAY Sports examines several story lines for every major conference heading into the 2013-14 college basketball season.
Conference realignment has flip-flopped much of the NCAA athletics landscape, and now we welcome a new league into the mix. Of course, the American Athletic Conference is actually the old Big East. But the fleeing Catholic 7 schools garnered the rights to the traditional name when they formed a 10-team, hoops-dominant conference.
Hence, the AAC was born, and while the new Big East tries to discover its identity in its first season as a new brand, the leftovers (and some notable newcomers) will try to reestablish a prominence on the hardwood as well as the gridiron.
That won’t be easy considering defending champion Louisville and Rutgers are departing after 2013-14, but that still leaves one season of some pretty entertaining basketball. With the college football season having kicked off Thursday — meaning the AAC is now officially in session — now’s a perfect time to address some of the most burning questions heading into the upcoming season.
1. Can UConn contend in the NCAA tournament? A season without hope of a postseason (per NCAA-mandated APR penalties) and a coach with an uncertain future isn’t exactly a recipe for success, but the Huskies had a surprisingly strong season — going 20-10 overall and 10-8 in a rigorous Big East (the old league) schedule. Now Kevin Ollie is most certainly the head coach and UConn is eligible for the postseason. Yet the best news for Connecticut this year came with the return of do-everything guard and player of the year candidate Shabazz Napier (17.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.4 apg). Make no mistake, UConn is a top 25-caliber squad. That’s not to be debated. The NCAA tournament, where former coach Jim Calhoun delivered several championships, is where we’ll find out just how hungry the Huskies, who return most of their core from last season, are for postseason glory. The answer? A Final … [For more on Starting Five: Burning questions in the AAC for 2013-14, click here.]
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