Connecticut (26-9)

March 13, 2011

COACH: Jim Calhoun, 25 years at Connecticut, 17 years in NCAA tournament.

HOW THEY GOT IN: Automatic bid (won the Big East Conference tournament).

GO-TO GUYS: The Huskies rely on Kemba Walker as much as any team in the country counts on its best player. Calhoun makes no secret about how much Walker means to the team, but he has the ability to pile up points even when he's the focus of opposing defenses. Jeremy Lamb and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel have alternated being the second primary scoring option, and one of them needs to take over that role in the NCAAs. Alex Oriakhi is the inside player to watch.

X FACTOR: Who is that second scorer going to be? Walker has been able to carry the load this season, but the times the Huskies struggled this season were the times that nobody else emerged as a dependable offensive threat and Walker took poor shots to compensate. Jeremy Lamb has played a lot of games in his freshman season and at times has looked like he's hitting the wall, and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel has run hot and cold off the bench.


STRENGTHS: It all starts with Kemba Walker. The Huskies have arguably the best player in the country in their backcourt and, as he showed in the Big East tournament, he's more than capable of putting up big numbers, even when he's the focal point of the opposing defenses. Alex Oriakhi emerged from a late-season slump with an excellent performance in the Big East tournament, and between the freshmen and sophomore Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, there's usually at least one other offensive weapon that emerges on any given night.

WEAKNESSES: Apart from Walker, the core of the team is very young and will be playing in its first NCAA tournament. That lack of experience looked to be a factor in the team's sluggish performance against DePaul in the Big East tournament opener. Although UConn was obviously excellent after that blip, a similar adjustment period could prove more costly now. When an opponent does manage to take Walker out of the flow of the offense, UConn can't always respond. Apart from Oriakhi, there isn't much for opponents to worry about from the Huskies big men on offense.