deandre-daniels-of-the-connecticut-huskies-takes-a-shotThe stats aren’t pretty, but head coach Kevin Ollie and his UConn Huskies are firing on all cylinders right now.

Friday’s 95-68 win over Maine increased the Huskies' record to 9-0 on the season, and should move UConn into the AP Top 10 when the newest rankings come out.

UConn has been very good early on this season, but what is becoming more and more evident every game is that this team can contend for a national championship.

To win in the NCAA Tournament, a team needs great guard play, and UConn may have the best guard trio in the country. Senior point guard Shabazz Napier has been as good as anyone in the country this season, averaging 15.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from deep.

Junior guard Ryan Boatright has been stellar too, averaging 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. Sophomore guard Omar Calhoun has done a great job in his sixth man role, averaging 9.3 points per game and providing energy off the bench.

UConn’s guards are versatile enough to play a fast-paced game and a slow-paced game, which bodes well for a tournament situation where teams don’t have much time to prepare between games. Napier and Boatright are also terrific on-ball defenders as well, and their on-ball pressure helps UConn force a lot of turnovers and get easy transition buckets.

Unlike last year, UConn is actually getting some production from their big men. DeAndre Daniels is scoring close to 14 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the floor. Daniels’ ability to score down low has opened up a lot of space for Napier, Boatright and Calhoun to work on the perimeter.

Playing in pressure situations can’t be simulated in practice. Luckily for Kevin Ollie, he has already seen his fair share of close games, and UConn has come out on top every time.

UConn squeaked out a one-point win over Maryland in the opening game of the season, beat Boston College by two points and Indiana by one point on back-to-back nights. Most recently, they beat No. 15 Florida by one point on a buzzer beater by Shabazz Napier.

UConn isn’t the most talented team in the country, but Kevin Ollie has the perfect formula for a deep NCAA Tournament run. Napier and Boatright are game-changing guards, and DeAndre Daniels is a great secondary option in the post.

UConn may not be winning pretty right now, but it doesn’t matter. The experience from playing in these tightly contested games is extremely valuable, and will pay dividends for this team later in the season.

They may not be a flashy team, but UConn is a legitimate contender to win the National Championship.

By Mike Lucas


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