Underdog Huskies

STORRS – The suspense didn't last long for the Connecticut Huskies. Their pairing for the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament was the second one posted on the Sunday evening selection show.

There was no jubilation or celebration at the news that the Huskies would open in Louisville Thursday (9:20 p.m., TBS) as the No. 9 seed in South Region against Iowa State (22-10) of the Big 12. There certainly was no disappointment either.

According to freshman center Andre Drummond, the Huskies were all business. It could have been the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company rather than the locker room of the defending NCAA champions.

"We heard our name called and we just said, ‘All right,' and we all looked at each other like, ‘We know what we've got to do now. We've got work to do.' We all had a serious face on. Nobody was clapping or cheering."

Soon Drummond's cell phone rang. His mother was calling.

"She said, ‘You guys have a chance to play Anthony Davis [and Kentucky],' " Drummond said Sunday night at Gampel Pavilion. "I said, ‘I'm not worried about that right now Mom, I'm worried about Iowa State.' " We've got to go out there and play some good basketball. And hopefully we'll see Kentucky on Saturday."

It was only natural for the conversation to quickly turn to Kentucky. The Wildcats are the No. 1 seed in the South – and the No. 1 seed overall. And they will likely be awaiting the winner of the UConn-Iowa State game in the third round.

Coach John Calipari and the Wildcats could get a chance to avenge last season's Final Four loss to the Huskies in a tournament game.

In Louisville.

In front of thousands of Kentucky fans.

With UConn defending its national championship from 2011. Regardless of what coach Jim Calhoun says.

"If you want to go in my office and look at the trophy – it's there, you're not going to get it, it's locked," Calhoun said. "So we're not defending anything. . . . The most important thing was to get an opportunity. We got a opportunity last year and took great advantage of it."

The Huskies (20-13) are in a much different place this time around. They limped across the finish line after a season of distractions. The No. 9 seed is an indication that they were one of the last at-large teams in the field.

"I like the fact we worked our way in," Calhoun said. "We earned this."

The last time UConn was seeded this low in the NCAA Tournament was 1992 when the Huskies were No. 9 in the Southeast Region and were eliminated in the second round by Ohio State.

Calhoun said the selection committee routinely matches the weakest 8-9 teams with the strongest No. 1, which would be Kentucky.

"We've been a 1, so I know what they do," Calhoun said. "Are we the weakest 8-9? Not from what I saw.

"But I think it has been written that I don't mind being an underdog."

Iowa State is led by Royce White, a multidimensional forward who transfered to be part of coach Fred Hoiberg's restoration process in Ames. The guards, led by Scott Christopherson, will shoot threes any time and any where.

"We haven't played a team that has shot 36 threes in a game and averages 24 threes a game," Calhoun said. "[Defending the three] has been one of our weaknesses. They shoot it at 38 percent and that's as good as anyone that I've heard of in a long, long time."

The Cyclones were 16 of 36 against Northern Colorado early in the season.

"We don't take [36] in two weeks," Calhoun said. "Obviously they shoot the heck out of the ball. They'll challenge us in many ways."


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