Two programs destined for March face off in this year’s Roman Legends Classic looking to add an important non-conference win to their resume.
TV Schedule: December 3rd, 7:00 pm ET. ESPN
Arena: Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT
Starting off the two games in the Legends Classic are two teams that should be in the at-large conversation come March. UConn and USC will faceoff for the first time ever in the opening game of the Legends Classic. Immediately following the game Florida will play Boston College at 9:30.
Outside of the Huskies having to cancel a game with Vanderbilt due to a positive test, both teams have seemingly played their planned schedule to date. Both going undefeated to this point, UConn going 2-0 and USC moving to 3-0, this feels like the first true test for both teams.
Focusing on the Huskies, they are entering their third year under Bobby Hurley and have moved back to the Big East where they are projected to finish fourth. In their first two games against Central CT State and Hartford, it is clear that the team will be propelled by the play of their guards, specifically, James Bouknight.
In the first two games, Bouknight has led the team in scoring and looks to continue his successful sophomore campaign against USC. The depth of the Huskies backcourt has been and should be their greatest strength throughout the year.
In their game against Hartford, the combination of Bouknight, Gaffney, and Cole was responsible for 62% of the team’s points. If UConn wants to stay competitive in their game against the Trojans they will need the same level of production from their backcourt and a great contribution from the rest of the team.
Over the first three games of their season, the Trojans have found consistent guard play and solid contribution from their entire rotation. However, the reason USC is poised to be a disrupter in both the PAC-12 and the NCAA tournament is because of the Mobley brothers.
Isaiah Mobley, the oldest of the two brothers, will be entering his second season with the Trojans and has moved into the starting role. In his first three games, I. Mobley is averaging over ten points and eleven rebounds. Even with that type of consistent production on both ends of the floor, the real star of this year’s USC team is his younger brother Evan.
Evan Mobley was a top-three prospect in the most recent class and is poised to be selected in the lottery during the 2021 NBA draft. Standing at 7’0 it does not take long to realize why E. Mobley is so impactful on the court. He is a double-double machine and has shown he can space the floor by converting from behind the three-point line. UConn will have their hands full on Thursday night trying to deal with the Trojan big men.
The first time matchup between USC and Uconn will showcase a powerful frontcourt competing against a deep scoring backcourt. A game headlined by college stars playing different positions could come down to the teammates around them making plays and limiting the success of their individual matchups.
While we won’t see Bouknight and Mobley faceoff head to head, barring a mismatch, the players that are responsible for guarding them will have a major impact on the outcome of the game.
The winner of this game has a chance to bolster their resume and increase their chances of earning a higher seed during the NCAA tournament. This does not mean that the loser of this game should panic. Hurley and UConn seem to be ready to make a real impact in the Big East and have a chance to make a statement against the Trojans.
However, the Huskies seem to be undersized in this matchup and if the Trojans are able to control the boards they will control the game. Expect USC to use the Mobley brothers’ skill and height advantage to take this one.
Prediction: USC 76 – UConn 68