Busting Brackets

Central Connecticut vs UConn: 2021-22 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: R.J. Cole #1 of the Connecticut Huskies dribbles the ball against the Creighton Bluejays during a Big East Tournament semifinal game at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: R.J. Cole #1 of the Connecticut Huskies dribbles the ball against the Creighton Bluejays during a Big East Tournament semifinal game at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images) /

The UConn Huskies opens the season against Central Connecticut State. Is there any chance of an upset in this matchup?

TV Schedule: Tuesday, November 9, 6:30 PM FS1

Location: Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT

KenPom Rankings: UConn (21), CCSU (342)

The start of the college basketball season is finally here. Dan Hurley and the UConn Huskies kick off their season at the home game against the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils. The Huskies have dominated CCSU, leading the all-time series 15-0, and will look to continue that streak. The two most recently played in an early matchup last year where UConn won 102-75. Can the Huskies match this offensive explosion again?

CCSU has struggled mightily as a program over the last several years. Donyell Marshall, a former Husky great, was alleviated of his coaching duties after a 5-year stint in which the Blue Devils went 40-104. The Blue Devils are now led by CCSU alum and former assistant coach at UConn, Patrick Sellers, in his first-ever season as a head coach. He will have his work cut out for him, especially against the Huskies. So what should Husky fans expect as we enter the season and what are some key things to watch?

I’m most interested to see who Dan Hurley goes with for his starting lineup. Lots of people have tried to use the open practice teams as the barometer, but knowing Hurley, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hand-picked those teams as a test for certain players and units. One thing I am confident about though, we will see RJ Cole, Isaiah Whaley, and Adama Sanogo in the starting lineup.

Last year, RJ Cole averaged 12.2 ppg (38.6% from 3) and 4.3 apg while playing 31.1 minutes per contest. While these numbers are impressive, his improvement and ability to lead this team will go a long way in determining the ceiling of this UConn team.

Isaiah “The Wrench” Whaley will be looking to cap off his 5th and final senior in memorable fashion. He and Tyler Polley chose to stick things out at UConn during some of the program’s toughest times in recent memory. The seniors, Whaley, Polley, RJ Cole, and Tyrese Martin, will have some extra motivation this season as they look to cement their place in UConn history.

Is the hype surrounding sophomore center Adama Sanogo real? I certainly think so and have been on the record since the end of last season saying he will average 15 ppg and 10 rpg this season, assuming he can stay out of foul trouble.

What about Andre Jackson? Is he the real deal? As a freshman, his season was hampered by injuries and foul trouble. Jackson needs to trust his high flying athletic ability, focus on generating offense from his defense (without fouling), and getting open looks for his teammates. He will be a de facto point guard when he is on the floor this season.

Beyond the starting lineup, I am going to be looking closely at substitution patterns and minutes distribution. This UConn team is as deep as the get and could legitimately play all 13 scholarship players. Of course, this won’t happen, but it’s nice to have options. At times last season, Hurley put out some confusing lineups that struggled to score. This will be something to keep an eye on this season since many people have questions surrounding the Huskies’ offense going into the year.

What about the freshmen? These early games should be a good place to give some of the younger guys some serious minutes. The incoming freshmen class is the future and features at least a couple of NBA prospects, but they may not want to wait their turn to get on the court. The vets will have to earn their minutes each night.

It is obviously early to tell, but if all goes according to plan Jordan Hawkins will likely be an early entrant to the NBA after his sophomore season. Samson Johnson may need a little more time to develop, but Hurley has also reiterated that Johnson has “wall potential”; he has all the intangibles to be a future lottery pick.

Rahsool Diggins and Corey Floyd Jr round out the 2021 class. Diggins is a crafty guard who always seems in control and can make plays for himself and his teammates. Floyd “Rambo” Jr. is just 17 years old but has the build and skill of an upperclassman. When he reclassified up a year to join UConn everyone assumed he would redshirt, but it may be hard to keep him off the court.

The Huskies are looking to build on their success since Hurley took over. In the first two seasons there were surefire signs of improvement, but some painful losses. Last year, the Huskies finished 3rd in the Big East and earned a 7-seed in the NCAA tournament before bowing out to 10th seeded Maryland in the first round. Year 4 of the Hurley era is about to kickoff.

Next. Ranking all 358 programs for 2021-22 season. dark

Top finishes in the Big East and qualifying for the NCAA tournament are now the minimum expectations. Are the Huskies up to the challenge?

Prediction: UConn 91, Central 72