HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- For decades, Coach Jim Calhoun has been a centerpiece of march madness.

On Tuesday, Channel 3 got the former UConn coach’s insight into the tournament that hits Hartford in just two days.

“It’s truly a magical time,” said Calhoun, who is now a coach at the University of St. Joseph’s.

It’s rare for Coach Calhoun to be on the outside looking in.

“Today, I miss the excitement of getting a group of guys together and getting there. The eight teams coming here at going to feel the same thing,” Calhoun said.

He made it to the tournament 23 times in his career. Five with Northeastern and 18 with UConn.

“I think the first team we played was Boston University, we were down at 1 at halftime, won by 25. Then we played CAL and set an all-time record with steals,” Calhoun said.

Teams led by coach Calhoun brought three championships to CT, so he knows what the teams are experiencing in the days leading up to the first games.

“Managing your players for basketball is important, managing your players for the excitement for it is also important,” Calhoun said.

Hartford is a host city for the first time since the 1990s and he expects downtown to be lively as ever.

“The bands, the cheerleaders, all that goes with March Madness, it’ll be a special time, we have good teams coming here some terrific players,” Calhoun said.

Fans in Hartford will see eight teams, including one of the best players in the country, Ja Morant from Murray State.

“He might be the third guy taken in the draft. Even unknown teams can sometimes bring great players,” Calhoun said.

In the region, he likes the favorites of Florida State and Purdue to march on, but he’s predicting upsets elsewhere.

“Buffalo, they’ve done well and is not a major name. And I think Wofford is another very good team,” Calhoun said.

But like many around the country, his pick to win it all, is the team with the most gifted player the sport has seen in years -- Zion Williamson.

“Duke is the best team right now, but the thing I want to warn everybody with is the best team doesn’t always win,” Calhoun said.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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