Friday, December 8, 2023

College basketball rankings: UConn off to hot start as it tries to repeat as NCAA Tournament champion

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UConn lost five of the top eight scorers from last season’s team that won the 2023 NCAA Tournament — among them leading scorer Adama Sanogo, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

That’s obviously a lot.

But a core of Donovan Clingan, Alex Karaban and Tristen Newton — plus a top-five recruiting class — was enough to make most of us view the Huskies in the preseason as legitimate candidates to repeat as national champions. For what it’s worth, I can tell you that UConn has very much looked the part through its first four games of the season.

Final score Sunday: UConn 77, Indiana 57.

The school (UConn) that’s won five of the past 24 NCAA Tournaments easily handled a school (Indiana) that’s still considered a blue blood even though it hasn’t won a national championship in 36 years. It was light work inside New York’s Madison Square Garden for the Huskies, who were led by Tristen Newton’s 23-point, 11-rebound effort.

“I thought he was great,” said UConn coach Dan Hurley. “There’s not much not to like. He was the best player in the national championship game in front of 75,000 people with all the money on the table. Coming into MSG in an atmosphere like this, for him it’s exciting. But he’s an accomplished player.”

What made UConn’s 20-point victory even more impressive is that it came without the services of Stephon Castle, the five-star freshman who had what coach Dan Hurley called “a very minor procedure” on his knee last week. It’s expected to sideline him for 2-to-4 weeks. The 6-foot-6 guard was averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per game before suffering the injury. So it’s crazy to think his absence won’t impact UConn at some point going forward, but it didn’t seem to matter at all against an Indiana program that’s down to 79th at

UConn is No. 7 in Monday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Huskies will play Texas on Monday night in the title game of the Empire Classic.

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 Top 25 And 1 rankings

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