UConn men’s basketball looks to be the favorite going into this weekend’s Final Four in Houston. Not only are the Huskies the highest remaining seeds of the quartet, they’ve looked dominant in every March Madness game. It turned out that UConn’s 15-point second-round win over St. Mary’s was their closest win in one to date NCAA tournament full of surprises and close games. Dan Hurley’s side won their other three tournament games with 75 total points, including a 28-point blowout by Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.
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With the national championship game just 40 minutes away and Miami UConn standing in the way, an underrated part of basketball could come into play for a trio of huskies as Saturday falls in the 30-day window of Ramadan, the ninth month of Islamic calendar as a watched Lent and prayer time, among other things. Those who observe Ramadan are not allowed to eat from sunrise to sunset, while some who take part in the celebrations eat as early as 3am so as not to miss breakfast. Adama Sanogo Hassan Diarra and Samson Johnson are all celebrating Ramadan and following these dietary guidelines, which were in full effect for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight when they began on March 22nd.
Sunrise is scheduled for 7:11 a.m. Saturday in Houston, more than 12 hours before the tippoff against the Hurricanes. Sunset is scheduled for 7:40 p.m., nine minutes before the peak. Before the game against Gonzaga, UConn’s support staff had provided food and drinks for the three. Saturday will probably be more of a Joey Chestnut style down scarf during the pre-game introductions. And I’m sure few nutritionists believe that fasting for half a day before a major sporting event is the way to go. At the same time, it’s great to see that the trio of huskies aren’t sacrificing their faith to win a trophy.
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The UConn trio isn’t the only Muslim faith trio still playing college basketball and fasting this season. North Texas’ Moulaye Sissoko and Rasheed Browne are also taking part in the holidays as Mean Green won their NIT semifinals against Wisconsin on Tuesday night. A few others top-class athletes have gone through similar fasting but competing scenarios. Enes Kanter Freedom did it for years in the NBA, WWE’s Mustafa Ali previously competed for several hours without food, as did professional boxer Amir Khan.