Is UConn beatable? Here’s how the 3 other remaining Final Four men’s teams stack up

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On the eve of his team’s Elite Eight clash with Illinois, UConn head coach Dan Hurley stumbled over a series of tweets from a little-known former Illini player.

Sean Harrington, now an ESPN analyst, wrote on X that UConn “has not had to deal with a team as athletic and physical” as Illinois. He added that Terrence Shannon Jr. “will be the best player on the floor” and that UConn “doesn’t have a good answer for him.”

To most coaches, criticism from a career backup guard who last played for Illinois 21 years ago would be easy to ignore. To Hurley, even the slightest disrespect is fuel for him and his players, more ammunition to fight against complacency.

Hurley mentioned Harrington’s comments without prompting on Saturday night after UConn clinched a return trip to the Final Four with a 77-52 mauling of Illinois. Calling what Harrington said “just asinine,” Hurley told reporters in Boston, “You’re going against beasts and monsters every night in the Big East, and the Big East prepared us for teams like Illinois.”

Stories like that exemplify why UConn will arrive in Phoenix later this week as an overwhelming favorite to repeat as national champions. The Huskies don’t just have an entire rotation of future pros and a system that maximizes their individual talents. They also have a head coach with a Michael Jordan-esque knack for inventing perceived slights and keeping players hungry.

The next speed bump in UConn’s road to back-to-back titles is an Alabama team that has ridden unexpected contributions from a trio of role players to its first Final Four appearance in program history. Looming on the other side of the bracket are fellow No. 1 seed Purdue and surging No. 11 seed NC State, both of whom clinched their spot in the Final Four with memorable Elite Eight victories on Sunday.

Led by center Donovan Clingan (32), UConn has steamrolled its way through the NCAA tournament so far. Can anyone challenge the Huskies in the Final Four? (Winslow Townson-USA…

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Publish date : 2024-04-01 02:28:36

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