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Opponent Preview: Big East Tournament
The Huskies will face Georgetown on Saturday afternoon, and the winner of Marquette and DePaul on Sunday
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As the top seed in the Big East tournament, the Huskies earned a first round bye and will begin their postseason on Saturday. They’ll face No. 9 Georgetown in the quarter finals, after the Hoyas defeated No. 8 Providence 68-55 in the opening game of the tournament.
Should UConn advance to the semifinals, it’s on a collision course with the winner of No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 4 DePaul. Her Hoop Stats gives DePaul a 63.6 percent chance of winning that matchup with a projected margin of victory of 4.6 points.
Here’s what you need to know about each of the Huskies' potential opponents in their opening two rounds of the Big East tournament:
No. 9 Georgetown Hoyas (8-18, 4-15 Big East)
While the Hoyas pulled off a win over Providence on Friday, their performance on the season actually ranks them well below the Friars based on Her Hoop Stats ratings. If UConn brings the same type of performance from its last two regular season games, it should not have any trouble with Georgetown.
The Hoyas are led by Milan Bolden-Morris and Kelsey Ransom, who average over 12 points per game apiece. Bolden-Morris scores 70 percent of her points from deep, while Ransom adds 70 percent of hers from two-point range.
No. 5 Marquette Golden Eagles
Less than two weeks ago (and prior to Paige Bueckers’ return) the Huskies buried Marquette at Gampel Pavilion, holding the Golden Eagles to 38 points. Lauren Van Kleunen was the only player to reach double figures for Marquette. She ended the game with 12 points on 5-10 shooting.
Kleunen is the Golden Eagles leading scorer on the season, averaging 13.2 points per game. Should the Huskies encounter her in the semifinals, she’ll pose a good defensive test for Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Dorka Juhász and Aaliyah Edwards.
As strong as the defensive effort was for UConn in the last outing, it did struggle a bit offensively and had trouble moving the ball against Marquette's defense. The Huskies had 18 turnovers in the game, but a lot of that can be chalked up to reintegrating various players into the lineup, which will continue with Bueckers this weekend. A strong offensive performance against Marquette would be a step in the right direction for this UConn team.
No. 4 DePaul Blue Demons
The Blue Demons are the more likely candidate to reach the semifinals and also the tougher opponent for the Huskies to face. UConn struggled on the road against DePaul, emerging with a two point victory, but followed up with 24-point win at home where it held the Blue Demons to a season-low 60 points. DePaul was without Sonya Morris in the second matchup but the Huskies were also without Nelson-Ododa, Caroline Ducharme, and of course, Bueckers.
Much of this game will again come down to trying to contain Big East Freshman of the Year Aneesah Morrow inside. Morrow has recorded 23 straight double-doubles and is averaging over 20 points per game. Even with the Huskies doing a better job on her defensively in the second matchup, she still had 20 points and 16 boards.
Having Nelson-Ododa back will allow UConn to throw more varied looks at Morrow. The Huskies also found success wearing her down on the other end of the floor with Edwards and Juhász playing together in the last outing. With more depth in the frontcourt for this game, expect UConn to take a similar approach.
Should the Blue Demons be the Huskies’ opponent in the semifinals, it also presents an opportunity to collect a win over a NCAA Tournament-caliber team. A dominant win for UConn over DePaul could go a long way in how the committee seeds them on Selection Sunday. With a very small sample size of games with Bueckers and the full team healthy, passing the eye test this weekend is crucial if UConn hopes to move up.
We also have a more in-depth look at DePaul from earlier in the season here.
The Huskies open their tournament slate against Georgetown at 12:00 pm ET on Saturday, and would face the winner of Marquette and DePaul at 3:00pm ET on Sunday if they advance. Both games will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.