Perhaps it should be this way. UConn is about to play what could be its defining game of the season, and the time to prepare and think about it was limited to one day.
"Whether we have one day or five days to prepare," coach Kevin Ollie said, "we're going to do what we do."
Louisville, which could rise from third to first in the Associated Press poll on Monday, is in the same situation. As UConn was pulling an upset at Notre Dame on Saturday, the Cardinals were breezing by South Florida.
"They (Connecticut) have the same thing," Louisville coach Rick Pitino told reporters after his game Saturday. "It's only a hindrance when the other team doesn't do it and that's not the case."
So UConn and Louisville will meet Monday night at the XL Center, and for the Huskies, with no postseason, this is another of those games that must serve as a trophy in and of itself. For a team that must live in the moment, this is a big moment.
If Louisville is ranked No. 1, it would be the first time that UConn has played a No. 1 team since it defeated Texas 82-81 on Jan. 8, 2010 88-74 on Jan. 23, 2010.
"Louisville is great," Ollie said. "Pitino is great. They have great guards, and balance with their big men."
"But, once again, we don't look at it as [an] obstacle, we look at it as an opportunity to show America what we're made of."
This has been the Huskies' approach all season, which is now at its halfway mark, beginning with the win over Michigan State on Nov. 9 that set a tone. On Saturday, the Huskies played Notre Dame, ranked 17th, on the road and won in impressive fashion, breaking a tie with a 7-0 run over the final 1:04.
In 15 games, UConn (12-3, 2-1 in the Big East), which was picked ninth in the league's preseason coaches poll, has not looked overmatched against opponent, nor been dominated for any long stretch by anyone in any game. Last year, with a team perceived as having far more talent, the Huskies were embarrassed in the second half at Louisville and lost, 80-59, on Feb. 6.
"We don't look back," Shabazz Napier said.
This season, UConn's three losses have all been close, including the overtime loss at Marquette on Jan. 1. So with what figures to be the loudest crowd of the season behind them in Hartford on Monday night, the Huskies are not likely to be intimidated, not even by the Cardinals' outstanding guards, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
"They bring great pressure," said UConn's Ryan Boatright. "They force a lot of turnovers. We're going to have to be ready to handle their pressure."
That's the Huskies' approach, too, of course. Boatright and Napier remain the core of what they do, offensively and defensively. But in the past two games, and especially at Notre Dame, the Huskies showed they could pound the ball inside in a half-court game if that's what the game demands. Tyler Olander had a career-high 16 points, and also had seven rebounds. After being outrebounded in 10 of their first 11 games, UConn has outrebounded Washington, DePaul and Notre Dame in the past four.
"They're a great ball club," Pitino said. "Obviously, they snapped the long winning streak of Notre Dame at home. They've got arguably one of the best backcourts in the nation. Two great scorers; they both score great."
"Great backcourt play, very quick in the open court. Their frontcourt is doing a good job."
And although many coaches have been effusive in their praise of Ollie, none have been more so than Pitino, who once cut him in training camp with the Celtics.
"I'm really happy for them because I love their coach," Pitino said. "[Ollie] is a class young man and I knew he would do a great job. More so than any other person I've encountered in my life, I knew he would be a great coach."
Smith, who prepped at South Kent, is averaging 18.7 points, with 46 assists and 46 turnovers. His free-spirited style of play has made for what might be called creative tension with Pitino, and earned him the name "Russ-diculous." Siva, the preseason player of the year in the Big East, is averaging 11.9 points, with 92 assists and 45 turnovers, and is the classic extension-of-his-coach on the floor.
Like most Pitino teams, the Cardinals (15-1, 3-0) bring the pressure, forcing 321 turnovers, 124 more than they have committed themselves, and they like to shoot the three, hitting 101 of 309 attempts. For the Huskies, who could be ranked again themselves by the time the game is played, it's a championship fight.
"I love playing against them," Napier said. "They have a great team, and they have a great coach. It's going to be a great challenge, and I think if we play the way we're capable of playing, we have a chance."