Imagine what it is like to be Yale and facing the big bully down the block, Connecticut. No in-state team has been able to beat these guys since 1986 when Hartford did the deed.
You have to feel outmatched. This is a team that has All-American candidates, it is has high profile recruits. These are after all the defending National Champions, and you are heading into their house to play on a Friday night, when you know no one is paying any attention, and if they are, they are rooting for the Huskies.
But this is the best team Yale has had in years, lead by Justin Sears, and with a host of other veteran players who hope to show people that there are more teams in the Ivy League worth paying attention to than Harvard.
Pay attention, we might. The Bulldogs pulled off maybe the signature win for the Ivy League this year, with a 45-44 slog over UConn.
The dagger? Just a little shot in the corner by Jack Montague off an inbounds pass that swished through the net to give the lead with just two seconds remaining. Javier Duren sealed the win moments later with a steal on a Philip Nolan pass.
How did Yale do it?
Start with an impressive defense job that totally had UConn, and especially star Ryan Boatright reeling. The normally sure handed Boatright went just 3-for-9 from the floor, made none of his 3-point attempts, and committed four turnovers in the loss. He looked out of sorts going against a Bulldogs defense that should have been slower, and should have been easy for the Huskies to exploit with size.
But that wasn't to be. Size was barely even a factor, given that Yale allowed UConn to get just a single offensive rebound all night. Meanwhile, the second chances came often for the Bulldogs, which leads to the other thing that Yale did extremely well.
The Bulldogs made good on having UConn play their game: slow tempo, long possessions. That gave Yale a chance as UConn couldn't use its athleticism to dominate and run a quick offense. If UConn could have pulled this out, it would have been their first win when scoring under 50 points since 2002, because that is not what the Huskies do, especially against teams like Yale.
Javier Duren deserves a lot of the credit for controlling the tempo. He may have made a couple of scary turnovers in the final four minutes, including one that was just playing too hard, too fast, but he was the controlling force here.
The point guard had 15 points and three assists on the night, despite going just 1-for-8 behind the arc.
And maybe that is the important point in the whole win. The Bulldogs, who normally shoot 34.4 percent from 3-point range, were just 3-for-21 in the game. But that final one. Oh, that final one.
Justin Sears, who himself had 12 points and 15 rebounds, made a great pass to Montague in the corner. Swish, slide back on the ground, teammates jump and dance, history.
This Yale team is ready for the rest of its very tough schedule including a trip to Florida next and then Vanderbilt later. It is ready for the Ivy League.
And it is ready to take on Harvard and prove that there are at least two teams in the Ivy League who deserve some attention.