Huskies Head into Dog Days of Winter

Calhoun's team will be meeting some competition in the next three weeks

Three weeks. Seven games. That's what Jim Calhoun and his #3 ranked Huskies face starting tonight.

The #21 ranked Villanova (14-3/2-2) comes to the XL Center for a 7 p.m. tip-off on national television. The Wildcats have been a thorn in the Huskies' paw for the past few years. The team is led by All Big East Guard Scottie Reynolds, who dropped 40 on UConn in '07 and last year when 'Nova ended the Huskies' 10-game winning streak. 

There's no break in this stretch. On Saturday, UConn heads out to South Bend, Ind. to take on #19 Notre Dame (12-5/3-3). This will probably be the toughest of the seven games. The Golden Domers are led by the inside/outside combo of Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney.  These two will be very difficult for UConn to match-up against.

The next two games might look like a break, but don't be fooled by the records. 

Yes DePaul (8-11/0-6) is near the bottom of the conference, but this is a classic trap game. 

After a huge game against the Irish and an upcoming game against Providence, it could be easy to overlook the Blue Demons. Be wary, an overlooked team playing a top-five program, in their own gym, can be a daunting game.

On Jan. 31, Providence (12-6/4-2) comes west for a chance to continue their recent dominance over the Huskies. With three huge upsets the past two seasons, UConn will be foaming at the mouth for a chance to exact a little revenge. 

If Coach Calhoun can't get his kids fired up for this one, something's wrong.

There is no rest for the weary in the Big East though. The day after the Super Bowl, UConn has a Big Monday tilt at #12 Louisville (13-3/4-0). 

If you think that Rick Pitino's team will be intimidated with whatever ranking or record the Huskies have, think again. The Cardinals last three wins have come against the #17, #13 and #1 team in the country.

Up next, a tough Michigan Wolverine (13-6/3-4) team led by potential All-American Manny Harris. UConn has already dispatched a Big Ten opponent earlier this year (Wisconsin, down in the Virgin Islands.) The Maize and Blue are no slouches though. They have already beaten the #4 team (UCLA) and the #5 team (Duke.)

Last but definitely not least in this run is a national showdown against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse (17-3/5-2). 

It's always tough to end a run like this against your arch rival, but really, what better way to. You won't have to worry about the kids not being amped for this one. The Orange are led by the three-headed monster of Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris. Those three, along with that vaunted zone defense, will give the Huskies a great challenge.

So there you go - three weeks, seven games against some top flight teams. If UConn can get through this relatively unharmed, it should catapult them into the stretch run, if not, it could ruin their season.

What's great is that this somewhat mirrors what they will face come March. 

Syracuse and Louisville are both Final Four teams. Villanova and Notre Dame are representative of the type of teams UConn could face in the second weekend of the tourney. The other three are teams similar to first weekend foes.

UConn has had some much-deserved pub thrown at them so far this season, but this will be the stretch when they can go prove that they are for real, not just to the media, but more importantly to their coach and themselves. In three weeks, we will all know what kind of team we have in Storrs.

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