Huskies surprised by AAC snubs; Evan Manuel gets his wish

NO AMERICAN DREAM: The new kids on the block, the American Athletic Conference, believed it had a lock on five teams going to the NCAA Tournament, only four got in. While Louisville, Cincinnati, UConn and Memphis earned a spot, the SMU Mustangs and coach Larry Brown were left out in the cold.

But, while the Mustangs – who seemed a lock prior to being upset by Houston in the AAC tourney – being left out came as a surprise, nothing more shocking than the Cardinals being chosen a fourth seed in the Midwest.

“Louisville a four seed is really kind of, I mean they beat us three times,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “I think they are one of the best teams in the country, but seeding doesn’t matter. It’s about what you do on the floor.”

Several Husky players admitted they were surprised by the Cardinals, who beat them Saturday night 71-61 in Memphis for the first AAC Tournament title, being dropped so low.

“Louisville is a really great team with a great coach,” UConn junior DeAndre Daniels said. “I mean a lot of people thought they should be a one or two seed. I was kind of shocked to see that.”

As for the Mustangs being left out?

“That’s crazy – that blew my mind,” Daniels said. “I saw a lot of teams that SMU was a lot better than. I feel like they should have made it.”

LIVING THE DREAM: Evan Manuel will be a happy young man this week – the UConn men’s basketball team fulfilled his wish and is headed to Buffalo to open play in the NCAA Tournament. The seventh-seeded Huskies play No. 10 Saint Joe’s, which won the Atlantic-10 Tournament, at 6:54 Thursday night at the First Niagara Center in an East Regional second-round game.

Both Evan’s father, UConn athletics director Warde Manuel, and I have connections to Buffalo. He used to be the AD at the University at Buffalo while I attended Buffalo State for journalism.

During a conversation this weekend in Memphis, Manuel said his teen-age son was really hoping the Huskies would end up in Western New York, where the temperature was “currently 9 degrees” at 11 p.m. Sunday night. I was holding out hope for a trip to San Diego, where the temperature is never “currently 9 degrees.  I even offered to wash Warde’s automobile – he loves a car wash in Buffalo called Delta Sonic – if he could keep the Huskies out of Buffalo.

No such luck. Congrats Evan!

William Paxton