When UConn men's basketball won their second consecutive championship in early April, they saw a gamble they made years ago continue to pay off.

They bet on themselves.

During the round of realignment that took down the 16 team Big East in 2013, UConn found itself on the wrong side of a line of demarcation. The schools that had FBS football would become the American Athletic Conference, while the basketball-only schools, all of which were Catholic schools in the Northeast and Midwest, would retain the name and the basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden. UConn was in a strange spot - a basketball forward school that happened to also field FBS football. As such, they were sorted into the American, where they would see their conference's access wither as others headed for the exits. West Virginia's exit for the Big 12 immediately preceded the split; Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame would find a home in the ACC at the inflection point, with Louisville following and Rutgers making a home in the Big Ten immediately after. Soon, UConn would be a stranger in its own house - the American would lose its BCS/Power Five access, and UConn would be the only program to have won a men's basketball championship in the 64+ team era to have power conference status and lose it. The American would notch championships in men's hoops on either side of the divide - Louisville in the conference's only year with access, and UConn itself in the first without - but the Huskies would languish in the American until it made the unconventional choice to hitch its wagon not to football, but to basketball. In 2020, UConn returned to the Big East, a move that left their football program homeless. The Huskies determined that being in a premier basketball league was worth more to them than ensuring football had a home. Despite its efforts to the contrary, the American was never able to truly make "Power 6" happen, leaving UConn's basketball programs without top tier competition and its football team with scheduling stability, but little else in the way of assurances. At best, UConn men's basketball may have become the east coast's Gonzaga, which is to say nothing of the women's team, who never lost a conference regular season or tournament game in their seven years in the American. And even if following the basketball programs seemed risky at the outset, the move seemed prescient shortly thereafter; the American would further destabilize after UConn's departure, with Cincinnati, Houston, and C.Florida - the former two of whom were among the men's basketball standouts - joining the Big 12.

Fast forward to present day. The women's team never fell off its roost, notching an additional three championships and making the Final Four each of its American years. But the men's team reaped the benefit: They're currently the back-to-back defending champions. Head coach Dan Hurley, who has helmed the team since 2018, elected to stay with in Storrs, turning down an offer from one of the biggest brands in basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Huskies bet on themselves - and won.