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Is It Jumping The Gun For Voters To Put UConn In The Top 25 After Michigan State Upset?

Are the Huskies for real?

Few people outside the state of Connecticut had gotten a good look at the UConn men's basketball team before Friday's 66-62 win over No. 14 Michigan State at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, which means the question needs to be asked: Does UConn deserve to be in the Top 25?

It is understandable why the Huskies did not even receive a single vote in either the AP or the Coaches' polls. Jim Calhoun retired, leaving the team in the charge of first-time head coach Kevin Ollie. Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond bolted for the NBA. Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith and Michael Bradley all transferred. And the Huskies are also banned from both the Big East and NCAA tournaments.

The argument about the ban can go on and on. The Huskies are being punished for new NCAA regulations that were implemented retroactively, meaning players that caused the problems with the program were gone before the regulations even existed. However, rules are rules and UConn must miss out. That will not stop them from reaching their own goals, however.

Junior forward Niels Giffey told College Spun back in September of how he was going to look at the season. With no postseason to play for, it would be easy for the Huskies to treat the 2012-13 season like a long training camp. That will not be the case.

“I feel like they took the chance [to play in the postseason] from us,” Giffey said. “I wasn’t involved in anything in missing this tournament so I feel like they took it away from me as a person. The only thing I can do in this situation right now is show them wrong.”

The same sentiment is felt by all involved in the basketball program. The goal for 2012-13 is simple: win the Big East regular season championship. Doing so would also mean a high position in the rankings.

So yes, it makes sense that UConn was not considered for the polls as a result of the ban, but this is a team that was never going to be silent this year.

Giffey also told College Spun that even a month before practice started on a full-time basis, he felt an incredible change in the chemistry of the team as opposed to last year. The team was closer and was playing better as a result.

Since the day he was named the head coach, Kevin Ollie has been looked upon as a deity. His promise that his team was going to "take the stairs, because the escalator is for cowards," has made people willing to follow him wherever he goes.

From the first day on the job for Ollie, his expectation of his players has been all about working hard and representing the University of Connecticut. With those two things, he believed success would come.

Well, so far, so good.

The Huskies went to Germany as underdogs and rightfully so. They were playing Michigan State, who is always a threat for the national title when Tom Izzo is on the sidelines. The Spartans did not have any off-court scandals that barred them from participation in postseason play. There was no mass exodus of players and obviously Izzo, one of the most respected and well-liked coaches in the game, is still on the sidelines. All signs pointed to Michigan State easily beating UConn.

At least that is what people outside of Connecticut thought.

UConn has looked good in practice all fall. A lot of pressure is going to be put on DeAndre Daniels, Tyler Olander and Enosch Wolf in the front court this year and each has shown that they can rise to the occasion through the first few weeks of practice and the preseason.

Also making UConn fans excited is the presence of Omar Calhoun, a freshman guard from New York City. Calhoun is the complete package and could easily captivate UConn Country with the same ease that Ryan Boatright did last year.

The biggest on-court question the Huskies had to answer was whether or not Calhoun, Boatright and junior captain Shabazz Napier could play on the floor together. Both Napier and Boatright are point guards who struggled at times together last year. However, it is understandable to want the two captains on the floor at the same time. They handled things just fine on Friday.

UConn silenced all its doubters in Germany with the win over the Spartans and showed that if there were no bans to speak of this year, they would be ready to compete for a lot of hardware in March.

Seth Davis got fans excited last night when he announced that he voted for UConn in the AP Top 25 poll and whether they make it this week or a couple weeks from now, this is a team who when all is said and done could very well be one of the 25 best teams in America. Just because there is a ban does not mean they are not going to go out and strive to be the best.

Look at Ohio State in football. They are banned from postseason play, but the Buckeyes are undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the country. There is always something to play for.