UConn a contender in American

Elite backcourt, developing big men have Huskies in position to go deep

Updated: November 21, 2013, 9:09 AM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

Shabazz Napier and Ryan BoatrightAP Photo/Jason DeCrowVeteran guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are key to UConn's success.

The Connecticut Huskies are showing me all the signs of a program that is back with a vengeance this season, but I must warn you: I'm not sure any of our customary college basketball storylines will apply really well to the Huskies. If you ask me whether Kevin Ollie's team is going to win its conference title, for example, I'll tell you it sure isn't going to be easy, not with Louisville hanging around in the American for one season before the Cardinals head to the ACC. (Although the Huskies might have what it takes to push the Cards for the top spot; more on that later.)

Or if you ask me who the amazing freshmen are on this team, I'll tell you all about Amida Brimah's considerable potential on defense -- which, to be fair, probably isn't what you meant by "amazing freshmen" in the first place.

Maybe I can't slot Connecticut seamlessly into the usual major conference categories, but I can tell you that this projects to be a very strong team. Ollie has a veteran group that's forged itself into a cohesive unit, and in that sense it might be easier to think of UConn as a seasoned mid-major peaking at the right time.

Make that an exceptionally talented mid-major. Call it what you will, I expect to see this team play its way to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, if not beyond. Before the Huskies get that far, though, we'll see them in the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, where they'll be tested against Boston College (Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) and then either Indiana or Washington.