After tonight’s game against Providence, we’ll have a much better idea of where UConn’s NCAA tournament chances stand. Until then, let’s look at a few different scenarios and project whether or not the Huskies will be dancing.
*Note: At the moment, ninth-seeded UConn would play DePaul, then Seton Hall and then a third go-around with top-seeded Syracuse. For the sake of keeping this post under the length of a Grantland feature, we’ll assume that if the Huskies reach the Big East semifinal, they’re in. We’ll also assume that West Virginia beats DePaul and South Florida to close the year 9-9 and Seton Hall knocks off the Blue Demons to finish 9-9 as well. This affects UConn’s seeding.
SCENARIO ONE: Loss at Providence, Win vs. Pitt, Win vs. Providence (BET), Win vs. Louisville (BET), Loss to Syracuse (BET)
BREAKDOWN: UConn hasn’t won two games in a row since early January. It’s very possible the Huskies will drop one of the remaining two, which could slide them to 10th place in the Big East (West Virginia is also 7-9, and the Mountaineers finish up with DePaul and South Florida).
PROJECTION: In. They’ll have 20 wins and the nation’s toughest schedule. That merits an eight or nine seed.
SCENARIO TWO: Loss at Providence, Loss vs. Pitt, Win vs. Villanova (BET), Loss vs. Cincinnati (BET)
BREAKDOWN: With this team, you can’t rule anything out. Providence is always a tough place to play and it’s no guarantee UConn will beat Pitt, either. If the Huskies get the 10 or 11 seed in the Big East tourney, the road isn’t quite as easy.
PROJECTION: Out. Can’t lose three of your last four games.
SCENARIO THREE: Win at Providence, Win vs. Pitt, Win vs. DePaul (BET), Loss vs. Seton Hall
BREAKDOWN: Seton Hall (8-9) probably won’t lose its regular season finale against DePaul. If both teams finish 9-9, the Pirates will get the tiebreaker because A. they split head-to-head and B. Seton Hall beat Georgetown, the No. 3 seed in the Big East. UConn lost to each of the top three seeds. So, to make it simple: UConn probably won’t advance past the No. 9 seed.
PROJECTION: In. Bottom line: If UConn gets to 20 wins, its safe. Again, it’ll be looking at an 8, 9 or 10 seed.
SCENARIO FOUR: Win at Providence, Win vs. Pitt, Loss vs. DePaul (BET)
BREAKDOWN: OK, now things are getting a little silly. A loss to DePaul? The Blue Demons stink. As we learned last year, anything is possible in the Big East tournament.
PROJECTION: In (Barely). If this happened, CBS would undoubtedly have cameras on the Huskies as they watched Selection Sunday. UConn might even be one of the last four in. But I think 19 wins is enough given the soft bubble.
SCENARIO FIVE: Loss at Providence, Win vs. Pitt, Loss vs. Villanova (BET)
BREAKDOWN: This would be a back-breaker.
SCENARIO SIX: Win at Providence, Loss vs. Pitt, Win vs. Villanova (BET), Loss vs. Louisville (BET)
BREAKDOWN: Again, with a 2-2 finish, UConn will be squarely on that dreaded bubble.
PROJECTION: In…by the skin of their teeth.
Today’s lesson? I think UConn needs two more wins — whether they come in the regular season or league playoffs — to earn a tournament bid.
Check back here for updates from the Providence game tonight.