Busting Brackets

Alex Karaban challenges UConn fans to bring home-court advantage to Boston for Sweet 16

Alex Karaban, a Massachusetts native is excited to head back home for the Sweet 16, but says that UConn fans "have got to show out" at the TD Garden.

Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) and Connecticut forward Alex Karaban (11)
Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) and Connecticut forward Alex Karaban (11) / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

UConn didn’t exactly get tested in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, but sophomore forward Alex Karaban seemed to sense a lack of killer instinct with this team that existed last year on the Huskies run to the 2023 national title. 

“They start to gain hope again, and this year’s team we’re doing that, we’re letting teams come back,” Karaban said in the locker room after UConn’s 75-58 Round of 32 victory over Northwestern. “We got their fans back into the game and last year’s team wouldn’t do that.”

His message wasn’t just a challenge to his teammates, many looking for their first championship ring, but to the UConn fans who will be within driving distance of the TD Garden in Boston, the site of UConn’s Sweet 16 matchup against the winner of Sunday night’s matchup between San Diego State and Yale. 

When asked about the fan support in Brooklyn this week and Boston next, Karaban said, “I mean there should be way more in Boston. I think it’s an easier trip down to Boston and it’s larger stakes with the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight, so I would expect there to be more UConn fans and for UConn fans to really sell out the garden.”

As the top seed in the entire NCAA Tournament, the Huskies were awarded the No. 1 seed in the East Region and won’t need to even get on a plane until a potential trip to Phoenix for the Final Four. 

“We need them,” Karaban continued about the UConn faithful. “That’s why we competed for this one seed, that’s why we worked so hard to get this East Region to go Brooklyn, Boston, Phoenix, and we’ve got to take advantage of it and they’ve got to show out.”

Karaban has started in both UConn victories of this season’s tournament run, posting nine points and five rebounds on Sunday against Northwestern. A season ago, Karaban’s only NCAA Tournament outings scoring in double-digits came in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, so he could be prepared to have a big game in an arena the Southborough Massachusetts native is very familiar with. 

“I can’t wait to just go back to Massachusetts. It’s an arena I’m very familiar with and it’s an area I’m very familiar with, so I’m just super excited to get back to Boston.”

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