UConn Can Join Elite Company with Fifth National Title
UConn is not only attempting to win its fifth national title that would put the Huskies in more elite company than the lofty position that currently hold but Dan Hurley would become the third different head coach to guide the Huskies to the top of the NCAA mountain.
UConn can join Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina as the only programs to win national title with at least three different head coaches.
The Huskies are two wins away from becoming the sixth program to win at least five NCAA Division I men’s basketball titles, so there is plenty of college basketball news to be made.
UCLA leads the way with 11 national championships, Kentucky has eight, North Carolina six while Duke and Indiana are at five titles each.
When looking at the college basketball predictions, UConn (-130) leads the way in the odds to win the national title.
The college basketball picks lists the Huskies as 5½-point favorites in Saturday’s semifinal against Miami.
Here is a look at UConn’s previous championship runs and Miami’s trip to the 2022 Elite Eight is thrown in for good measure.
2014: A First-Round Escape
UConn’s most recent national title run nearly ended before it really got started.
The seventh-seeded Huskies trailed at halftime against a St. Joseph’s team that featured future NBA players Langston Galloway and DeAndre Bembry. The lead was five points with five minutes to go. Amida Brimah, a 57.4% foul shooter, tied the game on a pair of free throws with 39 seconds to play in regulation.
Shabazz Napier had nine points in overtime as UConn survived and advanced with the 89-81 win. It was the only time in the six tournament games that the College Basketball odds listed UConn as the favorite.
Michigan State took out top-seeded Virginia in the second round while the Huskies outlasted Iowa State 81-76.
Wins over Michigan State (60-54) and Florida (63-53) weren’t much easier before the Huskies upset a Kentucky team led by current New York Knicks star Julius Randle. This was the lone championship during Kevin Ollie’s time as the head coach for the Huskies.
2011: Last Title for Calhoun
The 2011 NCAA tournament wrapped up with either some elite defense or some of the worst offensive execution seen in a championship game.
The good news for UConn is they don’t ask how, they ask how many. The Huskies made enough shots to outlast the underdog Butler squad 53-41. It was the second to last NCAA tournament game coached at UConn by the legendary Jim Calhoun.
The Huskies were listed by the college basketball lines as three-point favorites against a Butler team that took out No. 1 seed Pittsburgh and No. 2 seed Florida to win the Southeast Regional and then topped fellow Cinderella Virginia Commonwealth to each the title game as a No. 8 seed.
Arizona upset top-seeded Duke in the regionals in Anaheim, California and then the Huskies escaped with a two-point win over the Wildcats before taking down another group of Wildcats, this one from Kentucky 56-55 as the SEC powerhouse rallied back from a 10-point deficit to make things interesting.
In the title game, Kemba Walker overcame a tough shooting night to lead the Huskies with 16 points.
2004: Taming the Blue Devils
With a No. 2 seed and already a championship run to fall back on, UConn was hardly a surprise entrant into the Final Four.
Still, when the Huskies faced Duke in the national semifinals, the Blue Devils were the higher-ranked team wth sophomore J.J. Redick and freshman Luol Deng leading the way.
Duke led by eight points before Emeka Okafor, who was limited due to foul trouble earlier in the game, took over.
The tables turned in the foul department as three Duke frontcourt players fouled out and left little opposition for Okafor to lead the Huskies to the one-point win.
UConn resisted the temptation to think that the Duke win gave them the national title and took care of business with the 82-73 win over Georgia Tech.
1999: First One a Blessing
UConn had been knocking on the door and finally the Huskies kicked the door open.
UConn, a No. 1 seed, had a pretty comfortable first three games in eliminating UTSA, New Mexico and Iowa. Gonzaga put up more of a fight in the West Regional final. Ohio State, the only team in the 1999 Final Four not be a No. 1 seed, fell 64-58 before UConn took down overall No. 1 seed Duke in a classic title game.
March 29, 1999: UConn shocks the world defeating Duke to win the 1999 Men’s Basketball National Championship by the score of 77-74 pic.twitter.com/J9Kz8aEqsH
— Husky Highlights (@UConnHighlights) March 29, 2023
Richard Hamilton had 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the 77-74 victory as the Huskies toppled a Duke team that included future NBA players Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Trajan Langdon and Corey Maggette.
Some Love for fhe Hurricanes
There are two teams in the second of the national semifinals. While Miami doesn’t have the basketball championship pedigree of UConn, Miami did come a win away from a Final Four trip last season.
Isaiah Wong had 22 and 21 points as Miami advanced to the regionals with wins over Southern California and second-seeded Auburn.
Jordan Miller was 6 for 6 from the floor as the Hurricanes rolled past Iowa State 70-56 to reach the Midwest Regional final.
The run ended there as eventual national champion Kansas outscored Miami 47-15 in the second half to earn a trip to the Final Four.
According to the sportsbook, Miami was the underdog in three of those four games so that set the stage for what has transpired in this tournament.