Debating UConn’s Prestige but Undeniable College Basketball Success

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UConn basketball is one of the preeminent college basketball teams of the last quarter-century, having earned five national championships in that time. Their five titles in 25 years—achieved with three coaches—firmly places them among the pantheon of college basketball blue bloods, programs like Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Indiana and UCLA that have been mainstays of success for decades.

The program was made great by legendary coach Jim Calhoun and his brash, bold teams of the 1990s and 2000s and continue to boast unprecedented success after he retired in 2013. Kevin Ollie won one title with Calhoun’s holdovers and Dan Hurley, the current head coach, has continued and amplified the greatness of the program by leading them to the fifth title in March 2021.

Under Hurley, who was hired in 2018, the Huskies have been utterly dominant, steamrolling opponents by an average of 20 points and nearly breaking 1996 Kentucky’s record for average NCAA tournament margin of victory. With the 76-59 victory over resilient but overmatched San Diego State, UConn has shown that they belong among the college basketball elite, deserving recognition as a blue blood.

Hurley’s success with UConn is even more impressive considering the obstacles he faced when he took the job in 2018. The Huskies had been in the hodgepodge American Athletic Conference and hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament for four years. They were also dealing with NCAA sanctions and a messy split with Ollie.

Yet five years later, Hurley has proven to be the perfect coach for UConn: intense, competitive, and ultimately successful. Gutsy with the game on the line, he facialized a 3 point shot from Jordan Hawkins to pull away in the national championship, winning the trust of his players and landing UConn back amongst the college basketball heavyweight programs.

Mike Krzyzewski, the legendary former Duke coach, had nothing but praise for UConn and its success, without prompting, “Certainly they’re at the level of the few teams that you say are blue bloods.”

UConn’s achievements are unmatched over the past 25 years, making them undoubtedly deserving of their blue blood status. They’ve battled through ups and downs with grace and determined grit and can proudly stand alongside the other traditional powers of college basketball. It was proven earlier this year when Hurley, his players, and the UConn fanbase held the championship trophy high and chanted his name, a moment nobody can steal away.