The UConn Huskies and all-world guard Kemba Walker come to the Coliseum tonight to square off with the West Virginia Mountaineers. The 'Eers are coming off this weekend's road victory at Rutgers, while UConn is fresh off of a road win at Cincinnatti, but have lost two out of their last three. I've been terrified all season by the prospect of the Mountaineers trying to guard Kemba Walker. Let's see if my fears were justified. Here's what I'm looking at tonight.
- What's on the line? Tonight's game has minimal consequences for the Mountaineers. Right now, they sit with 9 conference wins, and are pretty much assured a spot in the NCAA tournament. Tonight's game, and Saturday's senior day finale against Louisville, are most useful to pick up momentum heading into the post season. Good play this week at home should translate into momentum in the Big East Tournament and hopefully beyond.
- Who's got Walker? The biggest test the Mountaineers face tonight comes in the form of potential Big East player of the year Kemba Walker. The 'Eers have been sliced and diced by dynamic scoring guards all season long. West Virginia's defensive performance (or lack thereof) against Dwight Hardy and Norris Cole earlier this season put both of those players on the map. The upside to all of this is that UConn is much more of a one-man show than the Huskies have been in the past. If some combination of Joe Mazzulla and John Flowers can slow Walker down, the 'Eers have a good chance of pulling out a win.
- Bouncing in or bouncing out? The shots simply have to drop. West Virginia is a team that's taken a lot of good shots this season, but unfortunately, few of them have gone in. I think getting Casey Mitchell to a place where he can contribute consistantly in the post season has to be a goal for Bob Huggins. Additionally, Deniz Kilicli's hook shot, which was deadly for much of the year, has gone ice cold. Much of this slump can be attributed to the big Turk drawing more attention and more help from opposing defenses. If the Turk can start getting the ball out quicker, both when passing and shooting, then the Mountaineers should have a better shot at putting some points on the board. With more points, will come more wins. It's simple, really.
I'm off to the Coliseum. I'll check back in post-game with my thoughts from section 18.