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UConn men's basketball team returns to NCAA tournament after 5-year hiatus

The Huskies are set to face off against their old rival Maryland Saturday night.
Credit: AP
Connecticut's James Bouknight drives past Creighton's Antwann Jones during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals in the Big East men's tournament Friday, March 12, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Hello old friend. We missed you. 

For the last five years, the UConn men's basketball team has been a shell of its former self. 

The blue blood program last made the NCAA tournament in 2016, advancing to the Round of 32 that year before falling to 1 seed Kansas. 

The team began to decline after that and Kevin Ollie was fired after leading the Huskies to their last NCAA championship in 2014. 

Now after returning to the Big East in 2020, third-year coach Dan Hurley has brought UConn back to the big dance and the national spotlight. 

UConn is led by star guard James Bouknight who has averaged 19 ppg (while dealing with an elbow injury) and RJ Cole who averages 12.3 ppg and 4.4 apg.

But UConn's real bread and butter is its defense which is anchored by Big East Co-defensive player of the year Isaiah Whaley and standout freshman Adama Sanogo. 

The Huskies will take on their old rival Maryland Terrapins in Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. on CBS.

The Terps are led by Eric Ayala who averages 14.9ppg and Big 10 Defensive Player of the year Daryl Morsell, who most likely will have to guard Bouknight.

Maryland also has the experience of playing some of the best teams in the country due to being part of the Big Ten Conference like Illinois or Iowa.

Overall, this should be a competitive game but it also shows the rebuild that Hurley has done for this floundering program. This is the first step in getting back into the perennial Final Four favorites UConn used to be.

The Huskies' future is looking bright. 

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