By DOM AMORE firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
3:12 PM EDT, August 21, 2013
Two games against Louisville, the defending national champion, will headline UConn’s first season in the new American Athletic Conference. The beginning, though, is also an end; Louisville will play in the AAC just one year before moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But for 2013-14, the Cardinals will bring luster to the strong 31-game men’s basketball schedule UConn released on Wednesday.
The Huskies will play Louisville at Gampel Pavilion on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. as part of ESPN’s first ‘Game Day’ program. They will play at Louisville’s YUM! Center on March 8 in a game for CBS,
The Cardnals were ranked No.1 in the country last Jan. 14 when they came to play UConn at the XL Center and won by 15 points. Though Louisville struggled in its next few games, it recovered and play its best basketball in March, winning the title. Several of its top players, including Russ Smith, will be back for another run. UConn, returning nearly everyone, including guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright and forward DeAndre Daniels, from a 20-10 season, are expected to begin the season ranked in the Top 20, if not the top 10.
No longer in the Big East, UConn has beefed up its nonleague schedule to try to offset the lesser AAC competition. Assuming it remains in the AAC, it will have to do so even more in future years to cover the loss of Louisville, a perennial national powerhouse.
This coming season begins with a neutral site game against Maryland, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Nov. 8. The 2K Classic feature games at Madison Square Garden against Boston College on Nov. 21, and either Washington or Indiana on Nov. 22, as UConn strives to remain visible in New York City in the wake of the loss of the old Big East Tournament.
Other highlights of the nonleague schedule are home games against Florida on Dec. 2, and Stanford on Dec. 18 . UConn will travel to Seattle to play Washington on Dec. 22.
The league schedule, which begins with a 9 p.m. start on Dec. 31 at Houston, will require more travel to distant destinations, with SMU, Houston, Memphis and Central Florida joining this season. To help ease the travel burden, road games at Houston and SMU in Dallas (Jan. 4) have been positioned so that UConn can do them in one trip.
The best league matchups, outside of Louisville, figure to be vs. Memphis (home Feb. 15), SMU (home Feb. 23), coached by Larry Brown, and old Big East holdover Cincinnati (home March 1).
UConn will play nine games at XL, and 10 at Gampel – perhaps its two biggest games with Florida and Louisville ticketed for Storrs – but most of the home games are still to be assigned. If UConn, as expected, reaches an agreement to play one game at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, it could be an AAC game, possibly vs. Temple on Jan. 21 or Houston on Jan. 30,, and could be part of a separate-admission doubleheader with a women’s game.
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