By Associated Press

Kemba Walker and his Connecticut teammates won’t get much time to catch their breath before traveling to Washington, D.C., for their first NCAA tournament game against Bucknell.

The Huskies (26-9), a No. 3 seed, will play the Patriot League-champion Bison (24-8) on Thursday in the West Regional. Both of UConn’s national championship teams and all three of its Final Four squads were placed in the West.

UConn enters the NCAAs fresh off one of the most incredible and grueling runs through a tournament in college basketball history. The Huskies won their seventh Big East title Saturday night by winning five games in five days, four against ranked opponents – No. 22 Georgetown, No. 3 Pittsburgh, No. 11 Syracuse and No. 14 Louisville.

But coach Jim Calhoun said he doesn’t think fatigue will be a factor going into the NCAA tournament. After a good night of rest Sunday, the Huskies should be ready to go, he said.

“They’re kids,” he said. “We’re not going to shorten practice. We’re going to go like we always would, preparing for an
NCAA tournament.”

The Huskies, who won the Maui Invitational at the beginning of their season and the Big East tournament to finish it, had a lot of ups and downs in between.

They had a six-game winning streak in January that included victories over Texas, Villanova and Tennessee. They also lost four of their last five regular-season games, and were projected as a midlevel seed before the Big East tournament.

“We were a good team in the league,” Calhoun said. “But to be a No. 3 seed, obviously our work this past week really paid off.”

Calhoun cautioned his players about being overconfident against Bucknell, a team he acknowledged he knew little about. Walker said Connecticut’s freshmen will need to play well again if the Huskies hope to advance to the regional in Anaheim, Calif., and beyond.

But sophomore center Alex Oriakhi said he believes the key will again be Walker, who averaged 26 points and more than six rebounds, four assists and three steals during the Big East tournament.

“Kemba is UConn basketball,” Oriakhi said. “He’s put this team on his back throughout the whole year, and we’re just trying to help him out.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

For the full interactive bracket, click here.


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