Big East Championship: UConn vs. Rutgers

By Jeff Lippman - March 06, 2007

It's the Big East final here at the Hartford Civic Center in brutally cold Hartford, Ct.

Hopefully the action in the arena will heat up the temperature outside--coming in at a robust 14 degrees.

Like North Carolina in the ACC, Connecticut will be attempting to win its third consecutive Big East Tournament title. They finished the regular season a perfect 16-0 and have breezed through the tournament thus far, securing easy 20 and 26-point victories.

Rutgers hasn't had it quite as easy as the No. 2 seed, but the Scarlet Knights have advanced, winning both games by the score of 63-55.

This will mark the first time since 2001 that the title game matches the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.

UConn and Rutgers have met in the Big East Tournament five times, three of which were in the championship game. Unfortunately for Rutgers, Connecticut has won all five matchups. In fact, they've never even been remotely close.

The last time these two teams met wasn't remotely close either, with UConn beating up on Rutgers at the RAC, 70-44. Although this is developing into the best and most heated rivalry in the Big East--with Geno Auriemma being the State of New Jersey's public enemy number one--the series isn't exactly back and forth.

Connecticut had actually lost three of four to Rutgers before their last meeting, but all-time UConn leads the series 20-4. Ouch.

Connecticut has a very balanced lineup, and it was Kalana Greene who paced them in scoring against Louisville. Rutgers got solid games from center Kia Vaughn--22 points, 11 rebounds--and Matee Ajavon--20 points.

The fact that this is basically a UConn home game doesn't bode well for the Scarlet Knights. The Huskies may just be too good, in front of all their fans, for Rutgers to handle.

Coach C. Vivian Stringer must get the most out of her kids if she hopes to hang with UConn today. After watching them a few times this season, Connecticut will run all over a slower team. Kia Vaughn must be a force inside against freshman Tina Charles.

If Rutgers can get Charles into foul trouble, hold Greene and Montgomery from scoring and make sure that junior guard Mel Thomas doesn't beat them from long range, than maybe they can hang close enough to eke out a victory at the end.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 05:38 PM on March 06, 2007

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