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What Does UCONN’s 2nd Place Preseason Ranking Mean?

UCONN men’s basketball was selected to finish second in a preseason poll by the conference’s head coaches, finishing behind rival Cincinnati by one point. But what does that ranking mean for the Huskies in the 2016-2017 season?

For starters, it’s a huge boost of confidence for a team that will be leaning on quite a few young players if they wish to succeed. The Huskies were able to secure a top-10 nationally ranked recuiting class, headlined by preseason conference Rookie of the Year selection Alterique Gilbert.

The Huskies are a remarkably young team, and are going up against a tough schedule to start the season, including games against Oklahoma State and Syracuse. If they can come into the year with a little bit of swagger and confidence already under their belt, it will help immensely as they begin their journey to the NCAA tourney.

Second, it shows how the AAC is really a two-team race. UCONN and Cincinnati laid claim to all 11 of the first place votes in the conference, leaving third place SMU far behind. In fact, the deficit between the top second and third teams are so big, that it is the equivalent of the difference between the third and sixth place (Temple) teams. This is good news for UCONN, but could also be a pitfall. SMU will be out for blood after their postseason ban last season.

Memphis could be dangerous as well, with preseason co-player of the year Dedric Lawson leading the way. It will be imperative for the Huskies to keep in mind that any one of the teams in the conference could knock them off, and that Cincinnati isn’t their only focus.

Lastly, it also lights a fire under the team as a whole to go back out and take down Cincinnati. While many of the players weren’t there for it, UCONN took down Cincinnati in a 4OT instant classic in last year’s AAC final game, to steal a NCAA tournament bid, and also put an exclamation point on a budding rivalry. Now being ranked just one point behind their new rival, the Huskies are now going to be challenged, and look to prove all of the coaches wrong who voted against them.

Senior Rodney Purvis, along with his fellow upperclassmen, need to be able to fire up the young players on the team to help them start out strong, as well as lead them through the AAC tournament towards the end of the season. The seoncd place ranking should give them adequate inspriation for a spirited season, ideally finishing off with another epic with Cincinnati.

After two convincing wins in exhibition games in the past couple of weeks, UCONN officially opens up their season with a home game against Wagner on November 11.

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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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