No. 1 UConn vs. No. 16 Chattanooga: Could This Finally Be the Year?

Justin FiehrerCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2009

Going into the first round of the big dance, Connecticut still has some questions to be answered. Injured player Jerome Dyson is gone for good, and the Huskies have struggled so far in trying to replace him.

Connecticut was the last No. 1 seed to experience a scare from a No. 16 seed. In 2006 the No. 1 Huskies trailed the Albany Great Danes by as much as 12 points midway through the second half. In fact, Albany still led by two with six-and-a-half minutes left before Connecticut tied and then took the lead for good, winning by 13.

Will this year be the same?

(1) Connecticut Huskies vs. (16) UT-Chattanooga Moccasins

Connecticut comes into this game having lost three of its last six games, mostly because of injured player Jerome Dyson. Chattanooga gives up the three at an alarming rate, but with A.J. Price as the Huskies' only outside threat since the departure of Dyson, the Mocs hope they can defend the three better.

Chattanooga can shoot the three as much as they give it up. Senior Stephen McDowell is second in the nation in three-pointers made.

However, the inside presence of Hasheem Thabeet may be too much for the Mocs to overcome. Forwards Nicchaeus Doaks, Kevin Goffney, and Khalil Hartwell lead the team in rebounding and must hold their own down low if the Mocs want to keep it close.

The best thing going for Chattanooga is their experience. Five of the six leading scorers for the Mocs are seniors. Since the 2006 season, they are 6-3 in postseason play in the Southern Conference tournament.

On Connecticut's side, this team is much older than it has been the past two seasons, but the Huskies have yet to win a postseason game of any type since their Elite Eight run in 2006. Since then they are 0-1 in the NCAA Tournament and 0-3 in the Big East Tournament.

But, Connecticut is a much better team and is obviously more talented. They score 77 points per game, and Chattanooga gives up just as much as they score; however, anything can happen.

The Mocs have played three ranked teams this season as well as Davidson twice. They played well in two of those five matchups, but this matchup may be too much.  It will be closer than the Louisville-Morehead State game, but not close enough.

Final Score: Connecticut 79, UT-Chattanooga 59