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No. 9 Quinnipiac looks to do the impossible as it faces No. 1 UConn in Round of 32

Courtesy%3A+Quinnipiac+Athletics
Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Bryan Schwartz

David and Goliath.

The United States and the Soviet Union in the 1980 Miracle on Ice.

16-seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County and top seed University of Virginia just a few days back.

And there could be one more to add to the list… No. 9 Quinnipiac and No. 1 Connecticut.

After a thrilling opening round win over No. 8 Miami, the Quinnipiac Bobcats will have the chance to put themselves in the conversation for the greatest upset of all-time as they face the Connecticut Huskies Monday at 6:30 p.m.

From the outside the Bobcats look like underdogs, though Quinnipiac does not see itself in that same light.

“I think it’s more of an expectation now for us to play this well,” Quinnipiac guard Brittany Martin said.

“I would like to think we’re on the rise,” Bobcats’ captain Carly Fabbri said. “I don’t think we necessarily see ourselves as underdogs.”

Connecticut is coming off a record-setting performance in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Huskies defeated No. 16 Saint Francis 140-52, breaking the record for most points scored and assists in a women’s NCAA Tournament game. They also scored the most points in a quarter (55) and in a half (94) in any women’s NCAA game.

“We just go out to play basketball,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “We don’t go to beat anybody by a certain amount.”

The last time these two teams matched up was Dec. 17, 1998, and that game was not much different for the Huskies than their victory Saturday. UConn defeated Quinnipiac 117-20. Yes, you read that correctly.

“What I remember was the score was a lot to a little,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “And as the game got into the second half, I was like wow, no one is leaving.’”

The crowd Monday at Gampel Pavillion will surely not be leaving either. This game is bound to be a bit more highly contested than the one almost twenty years ago.

Quinnipiac has been firing on all cylinders of late to the tune of a 23-game winning streak. The Bobcats have not lost since Dec. 18 against Michigan State.

Quinnipiac has received outstanding play from its primary rotation players. Six Bobcats scored in double-figures in the opening round matchup against Miami. That included Aryn McClure who was a rebound and an assist shy of a triple-double after a shaky start to the game.

Though the Bobcats have had outstanding success after these slow starts, they cannot afford to fall too far behind UConn early on.

UConn has played just one game this season in which the final score was within single digits (Jan. 15 at Texas, 75-71 final). The Huskies have scored at least 90 points in 16 of their 33 games this campaign. Even with that success the entire season, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma is not taking anything for granted.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an easy game for us,” Auriemma said. “I’m anxious to get going tomorrow.”

Auriemma already said he would not sport a Bobcats t-shirt this year after wearing one during a press conference during Quinnipiac’s 2017 NCAA Tournament run.

“His unveiling of our t-shirt was the exclamation on a great season,” coach Fabbri said. “Geno has just transcended this game.”

For the legendary coach, he will have the chance to continue to develop the state of Connecticut into a basketball powerhouse with Fabbri. That Connecticut basketball talent will all be on display as Quinnipiac looks to make history, yet again.

“We are so eager for opportunity to see what we have against the best,” Fabbri said.

For Auriemma, UConn may not be as eager to play the Bobcats.

“I’ve stopped saying I hope we play them,” Auriemma said about Quinnipiac, praising the way they play.

Will the Bobcats stun the nation for the second year in a row and join that growing list of historic sports upsets?

“We’re looking forward to the game and competition with UConn,” Fabbri said. “It’s a nice in-state matchup, and a lot of people were hoping for this. We upheld our end of the bargain, and we’re ready to go.”

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About the Contributor
Bryan Schwartz, Sports Director
Bryan Schwartz is the sports director of Q30 Television. He is a senior journalism major at Quinnipiac University, originally from Stamford, Conn. He also works at WFAN and CBS Sports Radio in New York City. Schwartz previously served as the executive producer of Bobcat Breakdown, as well as a beat reporter for Quinnipiac men's and women's basketball. Bryan has also interned with WTNH News 8, the New Britain Bees and the Danbury Westerners.   You can follow Bryan on Twitter here:

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