On Wednesday afternoon, UConn and head coach Kevin Ollie announced that they had added a pair of series with elite programs.
The Huskies will be playing a home-and-home with Ohio State beginning in 2015-2016 and following that up with a series against Arizona in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.
I know, I know, I know. Celebrating schedules for games that two teams are planning on playing in five years is a little bit much, but there is some significance here for the Huskies. Ohio State is one of the four best programs in the Big Ten and probably, at worst, a top 15 program nationally. Arizona is in the midst of a resurgence under Sean Miller. I’m not sure there are five programs stronger than the one currently being built in Tucson.
Well, they’re coming off of their second national title in four years and their fourth in the last 15 seasons. They’re among the elite, but they aren’t in an elite conference. They play in the American, and while Memphis, Cincinnati and Temple are strong programs and the like of SMU, Houston and Tulsa appear to be on the way up, the Huskies aren’t playing in the ACC or the Big Ten. There aren’t going to be seven or eight tournament teams in the American. They’re not going to have four or five top 25 teams in their ranks.
That means that UConn’s strength of schedule is going to take a hit, comparatively, in league play, which makes it a priority for them to put together stronger non-conference schedules. They put together a strong one this season, with games against Duke, Florida, Texas and Stanford in addition to their trip to a tournament in Puerto Rico.
That is going to have to become the norm for the Huskies.