As long as it is in the American Athletic Conference, the UConn men's basketball program will need to play a strong out-of-conference schedule.
This was clear in 2013-14 when the Huskies, despite a 24-7 regular season record, were a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, although they went on from there to win the national championship.
UConn moved Wednesday to build and maintain an ambitious schedule years to come, announcing agreements for home-and-home series with perennial powerhouse programs Ohio State and Arizona. And there should be more additions to the schedule to come.
Under these agreements, Ohio State will play UConn at one of the Huskies' home sites during the 2015-16 season, probably in December. The Huskies will play the Buckeyes in Columbus in 2016-17, again, probably in December. Then UConn will play Arizona in Tucson during the 2017-18 season, and the Wildcats will come to Connecticut the following season, 2018-19, with both of these games also likely to be in December.
UConn will complete its home-and-home series with Stanford and Florida this coming season with games on the road. UConn is interested in continuing a series with Florida, but nothing is firm yet. The Huskies would also like to renew some of their Big East rivalries, with Syracuse, Georgetown, Villanova or St. John's, and perhaps play an annual game in New York. These ideas are in the talking stage, but more future scheduling agreements could come in the next few weeks.
Details for the 2014-15 season, including the conference schedule and which home games will be played at Gampel Pavilion, the XL Center and Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, are yet to be announced. What is secure: UConn will play nonconference games at Stanford (Jan. 17), at Florida (Jan. 3), at home against Texas (Nov. 30), vs. Duke in New Jersey (Dec. 18) and two among Dayton, Texas A&M, West Virginia and New Mexico at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 20-23). These games should provide adequate RPI and strength-of-schedule numbers come tournament time, if the Huskies win enough of those games and excel in the AAC.
In 2015-16, UConn will go to Texas to complete that series, and play Ohio State at home, a solid base to build upon.
Ohio State has won 22 Big Ten regular season and five league tournament titles and played in the Final Four 11 times, most recently in 2012. The Buckeyes have won one national championship, in 1960, and lost in championship games in 1939, 1961, 1962 and 2007. UConn and Ohio State have played five times, with the Buckeyes winning three. The Huskies' first big win on a national stage came against Ohio State, though, in the NIT Final at Madison Square Garden in 1988. The Huskies also beat Ohio State in the NCAA Final Four in 1999, along the way to the first of their four national titles.
UConn and Arizona have played five times, with UConn winning them all, including a memorable West Regional Final in 2011, en route to its third NCAA title. The Wildcats have been to four Final Fours, most recently in 2001, winning the title in 1997. They have won four Pac 12 tournaments.Copyright © 2015, CT Now