In this file photo from March 4, 2024, Nets head...

In this file photo from March 4, 2024, Nets head coach Kevin Ollie directs his team during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Barclays Center. Credit: TNS/Elsa

Kevin Ollie was in a good mood. The interim coach of the Brooklyn Nets bounded over to the spot where a small group of reporters were waiting for him, a smile seemingly permanently affixed to his face.

Why was Ollie jubilant?

The answer: Connecticut’s 75-60 rout of Purdue in Monday night’s men’s national championship game was on Ollie’s mind. Ollie played for the program between 1991-95 and later served as his alma mater’s coach from 2012 to 2018.

“Every time we get to the Final Four, we get to the final game and we don’t lose,” Ollie said during Tuesday’s walk-through practice at the HSS Training Center. “I’m glad the streak is still alive.”

UConn has been to seven Final Fours and played in six national championship games. The Huskies are 6-1 in the Final Four — their only loss was an 82-73 defeat to Michigan State in the 2009 semis — and have never lost in championship games.

Does that make UConn a blue- blood program?

“We should not be asking that question [anymore],” Ollie said. “We know what it is. They try to still keep us out of there, but we are] just [going to] make sure our work proves it and they can’t keep us out too [much] longer.”

While Ollie reveled in UConn’s remorseless run through the NCAA Tournament, Mikal Bridges was able to take some satisfaction in it from a Big East standpoint.

In the conference’s history, Big East programs have won 10 national championships, including five between 2011 and 2024. When Louisville won the national championship in 2013, it was a member school. However it was stripped of its title in 2018 by the NCAA due to lack of oversight following a sex scandal.

“That’s [the] conference, man,” Bridges said. “Big East, man, it’s tough. It’s tough everywhere, every game you play. Even if it’s the worst team in the league, you’re going to get a tough fought game. Playing on the road, at different spots, even if they’re not playing well at that moment, they’re going [to] be playing hard and the crowd and the energy and the physicality about it. So I think Big East is just the best conference.”

The selection committee disagreed. The committee only selected three teams — Connecticut, Creighton and Marquette — from the Big East while the Big Ten and Mountain West each received six bids.

The argument proffered by chairperson Charles McClelland seemed confounding, especially when considering the criteria the committee theoretically uses to select the field. Seton Hall finished its season with a 25-12 record, including wins over UConn and Marquette. Providence had six Quad-1 wins on its way to a 21-14 season. St. John’s had a NET rating of 32 and won six of its last seven games.

Providence and Seton Hall played in the postseason NIT, while St. John’s passed on the tournament. Providence lost in the first round to Boston College, but the Pirates won the tournament.

“Seton Hall was one of the teams that should have made it this year and they ended up winning the NIT,” Bridges said. “That’s a Big East thing. They should have been in the tournament. [I’m] happy they took their anger out and won the NIT.”

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