Key stretch: Connecticut

Here's the fifth installment of a series examining the most crucial stretches of the schedule for each Big East team.

Come on down, Connecticut.

Key stretch: West Virginia (Oct. 29), Pittsburgh (Nov. 11), at Syracuse (Nov. 20), Cincinnati (Nov. 27)

Breakdown: Connecticut wants to establish itself as a Big East title contender this year. Well, the Huskies couldn't ask for a better schedule. They get the Mountaineers, Panthers and Bearcats -- the top three finishers in last year's race, and the odds-on top three teams this preseason -- all at Rentschler Field. They even get a nice little break between the West Virginia and Pitt games to regroup.

Those three home tilts are broken up by a road trip to Syracuse. UConn should be favored in that game, but if it gets caught up focusing too much on that home trio, then the Orange could certainly pull off an upset.

Prediction: UConn has never beaten West Virginia, and that has to change for this season to be different. The Huskies did blast Cincinnati at home two years ago and have competed well of late against Pitt. If Connecticut can go 3-1 or better in this quartet, it will have a good chance at winning the Big East title. I predict another loss to WVU, however, and a record of 2-2 during this key stretch.

More key stretches:


West Virginia