107 and Counting

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Nov. 17, 2014: That was the last time the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team lost a game. Over 850 days ago. Since then, they have won 107 consecutive games, setting a NCAA record, for men and women. The record prior to their current 107 mark was 90 consecutive games. Who was it held by? The UConn Women’s Basketball team.  Throughout those 107 games, they have won 2 national titles, continuing their national championship win streak to 4. 

Basically, UConn dominates NCAA Women’s Basketball.

Winning 107 games in a row is pretty impressive, but what is more impressive is not just that they’ve won, but how they’ve won. Their average margin of victory is 38.4 points, they have won 60 of these games by more than 40 points, and 104 out of 107 games have been won by double digits. Just last month they beat USF, the No. 20 ranked team, by 65 points. 

UConn isn’t simply winning basketball games, they are dominating teams consistently. They are dominating the entire sport. In their last 107 games only two have been what is considered a “close” game. Under head coach Geno Auriemma, UConn Women’s Basketball is arguable the most dominant sports team in history.

So what does this mean for women’s basketball? Is UConn’s win streak good or bad for women’s basketball? The short answer: The win streak and the sheer dominance of UConn is a double edged blade for the sport. 

Why is it good? Well for one, people are actually talking about women’s basketball. We don’t live in a world where people watch WNBA highlights, or a big women’s rivalry game is sold out months before it’s played, or millions of dollars are bet on the women’s March Madness brackets. These are the kind of things we typically see done in men’s sports. Is it right? No, but that is just the world we live in. I would LOVE to see this change. 

Men’s basketball has always dominated the media, but the media can’t ignore something like 107 wins in a row. That’s a streak that demands attention, regardless of gender. So from this perspective, UConn’s streak has been great for women’s basketball. On Feb. 14, when UConn beat South Carolina to win it’s 100th consecutive game, it was huge news. Women’s basketball was trending on twitter, ESPN and Sports Center had headline stories about it, and people actually watched a women’s basketball game to witness history. UConn brought that attention to women’s basketball, and it has been great for the sport and for the overall exposure of the women’s game.

Not everything about their win streak has been great for women’s basketball, though. Winning a game by 65 points is impressive no matter what team at any level. But to win by that much against another nationally ranked team regularly? Where is the competition? UConn has almost become too dominant. If you are the best women’s basketball player coming out of high school, why would you go play anywhere other than UConn? As long as UConn keeps winning games by this much, they are going to keep getting the best players and continue to dominate NCAA women’s basketball. 

The competition within the sport is basically gone, UCONN has destroyed the equilibrium within the college game. One of the best parts of sports is upsets, that’s why March Madness is so popular. Any team can be beat on any given day, but when will that happen for UConn? Without the potential for a competitive game the excitement of the year’s most dramatic sports event is lost. For the last 107 games, nobody has even come close. 

At this point, many people aren’t even going to watch the tournament because UConn is so dominant, believing they already know the outcome. They’re probably right. Having a team as good as UConn can make for some pretty boring television. This isn’t to say all the other teams are bad; UConn beats really good basketball teams, but they are legitimately that much better.

As we enter into March Madness, I hope women’s basketball will stay relevant because of how successful and historical UConn’s winning is. But more than that, I hope to see an upset. I hope other women’s teams will be more motivated than ever to snap their win streak. As sweet as a win is, how much sweeter would it be against a UConn team that is working towards a fifth straight title? 

So maybe in the next month we will see this historic run come to an end. Or maybe UConn will win every game in the tournament with apparent ease just like they have been. No matter what happens, UConn has forever impacted women’s basketball. So thank you UConn, for making people pay attention to women’s basketball. And to every other team, please, I’m begging you, get a win.