UConn-Gonzaga, nearly a decade later

Updated: December 15, 2008, 1:50 PM ET
By Fran Fraschilla
On Saturday, Connecticut meets up with Gonzaga in the Battle in Seattle, one of the best nonconference heavyweight matchups of the season. It's hard to believe it's been almost 10 years since Gonzaga burst onto the national scene, getting to the 1999 Elite Eight before losing to eventual national champion UConn 67-62 at America West Arena.

I had a front-row seat for that contest in Phoenix, calling the game for Westwood One radio in between coaching gigs. At the time, the Zags were a nice story with a young coach and a bunch of overachieving mid-major players from a school in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga had been previously known for turning out John Stockton, but the Bulldogs were basically a .500 team when he played there.

The Huskies, on the other hand, had become a perennial Big East power under Jim Calhoun, but were 0-3 in previous regional finals and were trying to get to their first Final Four. Richard Hamilton was UConn's All-American and led the Huskies in scoring that day with 21 points. The win over the Zags would propel the Huskies to their first national championship, as they knocked off Ohio State and Duke in St. Petersburg, Fla., a week later.