ARLINGTON, Texas -- Richard Hamilton and Ray Allen, NBA veterans and former Connecticut standouts, were standing 15 feet from the podium as the Huskies -- their Huskies -- celebrated atop the podium at AT&T Stadium while confetti fell from the rafters.
Connecticut, a 7-seed that lost to Louisville three times during the regular season by a combined 55 points and finished third in the new American Athletic Conference, had just won the national title by defeating the rumbling Kentucky Wildcats team 60-54 on Monday night. "Man, just imagine if you'd gone to Las Vegas three weeks ago and ...," Hamilton asked.
Before he could finish, Allen began to nod. "You'd win money," the Miami Heat star said.
Few outside Storrs, Conn., thought the Huskies would be here. Of the 11 million-plus people who entered a bracket into ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge, .016 percent even had the Huskies and Wildcats facing off in the championship.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie, who represents a new breed of young, relatable coaches, thought this was attainable, though. And his players believed him when he told them that they could win a national championship a year after the NCAA blocked the program from the postseason due to APR failures.
He's been the motivator, the teacher and the leader all year.
And now, he's just the winner.
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