NEW YORK - A wise man once said, "If ' if's' and ' but's' were candy and nuts, everyday would be Christmas.' Or something like that.
OK, that man was Dandy Don Meredith - not exactly a sage. Nevertheless, "if's' and "but's' - mostly "if's' - are all UConn has right now as NCAA postseason play has begun.
The Big East tournament kicked off Tuesday night and continued on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, with UConn nowhere in sight. The Huskies' absence was palpable, if not overwhelming. The 2013 Big East tournament media guide skips from Cincinnati to DePaul, glossing right over UConn, which has won the tourney seven times, tied with Georgetown for most ever.
If anyone would have noticed UConn's absence, it would be Jim Boeheim, who's in his 31st (and final) Big East tournament as Syracuse's head coach.
"There are so many good teams here, you don't really think about it,' Boeheim said. "Obviously, with Jim (Calhoun) retiring, that takes away from it.'
Still, Boeheim - whose Orange were allowed to play in the conference tournament in 1993, despite an NCAA tournament ban - seems to believe UConn should be at the Garden this week.
"It's unfortunate, because I think the whole (APR) thing is ridiculous,' he said. "The whole thing - guys leaving, they just leave, the coach can't control it, all of a sudden the school gets punished. That wasn't the purpose of that legislation when it went in. It's been adapted to that, and I just don't think it's the right thing.'
If UConn had been allowed to play, it would have been the No. 8 seed and played No. 9 seed Providence on Wednesday at noon. The Huskies beat the Friars twice this season, both games going to overtime. A third matchup between the regional rivals would have likely been more riveting than the Friars' 61-44 loss to Cincinnati.
So, if (there's that word again) UConn were postseason-eligible, what kind of NCAA tournament seed would it be looking at right now?
It's really an impossible question to answer, of course.
After all, if the Huskies had been postseason-eligible all along, would Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith have transferred from the program? Would UConn have played throughout this regular season with such passion if it knew it had the postseason to fall back on?
Still, all things being equal, the Huskies would almost certainly be punching a ticket to next week's Big Dance. Joe Lunardi, ESPN's noted "bracketologist,' says UConn would be in - but may have needed to do some work this week.
Lunardi said he's been asked just about "every day, all season' about UConn.
"I've been evaluating them as if they were eligible, and right now they'd be around the cut line, between a 10 and an 11,' he said. "Kind of where Villanova and Cincinnati are. I've got Villanova at 40, Cincinnati at 41. They'd be in the field. Not by a lot, but by enough to feel comfortable.'
However, Brad Evans a "college basketball bracket expert' from Yahoo ! Sports, rates UConn much higher.
"Right now, I'd have them on a 6 or 7 seed line, probably a back-end 6 seed," Evans said. "Their record (20-10) isn't gaudy by any stretch, but they've got RPI wins, quality wins akin to a Wisconsin or an Illinois. They've got 10 losses, but enough accrued quality victories worthy of a 6 seed, or at worst a 7 seed."
He added: "Now, if they lost the opening game of the Big East tournament, they may slide to an 8 seed. But that's rock-bottom for them. Conversely, if they won three in a row or took the Big East tournament title, they have a ceiling of a 5 seed."
So why the discrepancy between Lunardi and Evans?
"I usually weigh strength of schedule (they're top 30), quality wins, but (if you) look at is other metrics" UConn's KenPom ranking is 53, they're Sagarin is around 55,' Evans said. "Every committee's different. If you look at secondary metrics and cling to those, they could be a 10 seed. But if you use traditional measurements like RPI, quality wins, strength of schedule, which I'm endeared to, they'd be higher.'
The operative word, of course, is "if.' But that's all UConn can ask right now.