Before the NCAA Tournament began, the Boston Globe predicted that No. 3 UConn would make it to the Final Four, beating No. 1 Duke to get there. It sounded like a stretch, even with how well the Huskies have played lately. Not impossible, but tough sledding, for sure.
Well, UConn defeated San Diego State, 74-67 in the early game Thursday night, putting them through to the Elite Eight. All that was left to do was wait for Duke to make quick work of Arizona in the late game because, well, that's what Duke does. They are defending champs, after all.
The upstart Wildcats didn't read the script, because they whipped the Blue Devils by 16, including dropping 55 on them in the second half.
“The way they played in the second half, they should win it all,” Duke’s Nolan Smith said. “Williams is a monster. They hit us full force, and kept hitting. They did everything right, and we did a ton of things wrong.”
That would be Derrick Williams, who scored 32 points for Arizona. And now the Wildcats and Huskies will meet Saturday to decide who will move on to the Final Four.
Think about that for a second. 20 days ago, UConn lost their regular-season finale to Notre Dame. That ended a 1-4 stretch for the Huskies, dropped them to a No. 9 seed in the Big East Tournament -- which meant no first-round bye -- and in all likelihood, a quick exit from the conference tourney and an unfavorable seeding in the NCAAs.
"ESPN claims UConn is 'overachieving'..sorry for winning".
Or here's a thought: maybe UConn is finally playing up to their potential. The previous five months was a mix of youth, inexperience, and underachieving. It took nearly the entire season, but everything clicked earlier three weeks ago and, well, the results are pretty scary.
Certainly no one could have envisioned things would turn out this well; the Huskies were unranked heading into 2010-2011 for a reason: they had Kemba Walker and a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. Expectations were predictably low. But Jeremy Lamb has emerged as a mix of young Rip Hamilton and Ray Allen, and the rest of the roster has settled comfortably into their roles.
The skeptic might called it overachieving, but if UConn can overachieve three more times this season I don't think anyone will much care how you describe it.