We almost never talk about women's college basketball in this space. The reasons are obvious - not many people watch it, and even fewer people bet on it. We give the people what they want, and that, for the most part, is not women's hoops. Every once in a while, though, something happens that is so ridiculously amazing that you have to discuss it whether it is a typical topic or not. And that is the case now with the UConn Huskies women's basketball team.
We are seeing a level of dominance from them that is just so far beyond anything we have seen before that it's scary. Gonzaga has won 29 straight games in men's basketball and we are entering rare territory. UConn just won their 102nd consecutive game. 102! Ridiculous. And worth taking some time to appreciate. Put any biases you have aside for a couple of minutes and just enjoy the ride:
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The streak: They last lost on November 17, 2014. Just think about that for a second - that's two years, three months, and a few days from today. It's not like that was an ugly loss, either - it came on the road at Stanford, and they fell in double overtime. And then they bounced back and won their next game by 36. And their next by 61. Then 39. Then 36. Then they beat No. 2 Notre Dame by 18. On the road. The dominance returned very quickly. When you look back at their records, too, you see how this team wins - they don't just edge teams, they humiliate them. They play right to the final whistle and show no mercy, and it is far more common to see them win by 30 or more than just by single digits. One of the rare signs of a letdown came in game 101 of the streak when they came close to losing to a pretty ordinary Tulane team. So they bounced back next time and beat ranked Temple by 45.
What came before: As remarkable as the 102 wins is, it's even more amazing when you think that it followed a streak of 47 wins in a row that was broken by Stanford. This team has won 149 of their last 150 games. I don't care who you are playing against - and this tem regularly plays, and destroys, the best of the rest - that is an incredible achievement. Superstar Breanna Stewart last year graduated after winning four national titles in her four years. They obviously won a title as an undefeated team last year. That doesn't happen in the men's game, but it was the sixth time since 1995 that it has happened in Storrs. They have also won five more titles in that time without being undefeated. I get that they are so far above the rest of their competition, but it still stuns me that this team has so consistently been focused and ready when they don't need to be anywhere near their best to win every night.
What comes next: The path forward is clear. They have games on Saturday and Monday to finish up the regular season, and then comes the conference tournament - that Temple team they just beat by 45 is second in the AAC, so there isn't much concern about a loss there - and the NCAA Tournament. I haven't seen any futures lately, but at this point it would qualify as a truly massive upset if the team didn't win their fifth straight title, and seventh in eight years, in early April. As we head into the tournament season we will get our first chance to really bet on this team in a while, too. Not that handicapping them is tough - you just take them regardless of the spread and sit back and enjoy the show.
Coaching: It likely won't happen because he's already 62 years old and teams are likely too conservative to make it happen, but I would absolutely love to see Geno Auriemma coach men. I'm not talking about some mid-major program, either. I want the Sixers or the Nets to hand him the keys. The guy is ridiculous. He has been coaching at UConn for 32 years, and it's the only head coaching job he has ever had. He emigrated from Italy when he was seven and was an assistant for just seven years - mostly in college, but two years in high school - before taking this job. He didn't coach exclusively women until 1981. He has a career record of 982-134 over that time (.880), and is 470-61 (.885) in conference play. You can argue about the lack of depth in women's basketball or whatever you want, but the level of excellence he has achieved, and the consistent effort he gets from his players, is unparalleled. He could win at any level.
Recruiting: This obviously isn't hugely relevant, but it was surprising and interesting to me - the Huskies do not currently have the country's top-ranked recruiting class. They have the top player in the country coming in, but they are second overall behind Tennessee. I just assumed that Auriemma could have his pick of everyone he wanted - like John Calipari only moreso - but that isn't entirely the case. Again, I'm not panicking for them or anything, but it's kind of interesting.
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