The UConn women's basketball team has won 71 games in a row, breaking a record set by....UConn, seven years ago. If they keep winning like this, soon even people who care about women's basketball won't care about women's basketball anymore.
The Lady Huskies have won every single game over the last two seasons by at least ten points. Their average margin of victory is 34. During that stretch, they have trailed in the second half for a grand total three and a half minutes. This season, they beat the No. 2 team in the country by 12; a No. 3 by 24; a No. 7 by 33 (on the road) and another No. 7 team by 41. Only one conference game was closer than 20. (They beat Seton Hall by 67.) Last night was their worst game of the season: A 15-point win over Notre Dame (another top 10 team) where they only scored 59 points. They are very good.
With their sixth national championship in 11 years all but assured, UConn is approaching UCLA-like dominance of their sport. But it's not just that nobody can compete with Connecticut. Nobody competes with anybody. There are eight conference champions this year that did not lose a game in conference. Stanford, who lost to UConn by 12, went 28-1 and also won every game (except one) by double digits. Nebraska is undefeated and almost all of their wins are by 10 or more as well. Yet, neither is considered a serious threat to knock off the Huskies in the tournament. The NCAA is a one-team league.
Jeremy Schaap laments the fact that no one cares about the dominance of Geno Auriemma's team, saying, "If they were men, we'd marvel at their greatness." But if they were men, they wouldn't be undefeated right now. Their greatness is a major reason interest in the women's game lags behind the men's. It is simply not competitive enough and now UConn has made it even less so.
Perhaps dynasties likes these are a necessary growing pain of a sport in its adolescence, like the Celtics in the 1960s or the Yankees in the '40s and '50s. The total domination of one franchise eventually forces the stragglers to rise up and make the league better. But the women's game has a lot of catching up to do. Division I has way more schools than it did in the 1970s and unlike the men's game, it doesn't earn those schools a lot of money. (Even a lot of the smaller men's programs struggle to break even.) An upset could still happen to UConn this year, but their total annihilation of all challengers has not helped a league that has to deal with charges of "boring" on a regular basis.
The men's and women's games are so different that they are almost not even playing the same sport, but the truth is that lack of competitiveness is an even bigger problem than a lack of dunking. As the women's game has matured over the last 20 years or so, that imbalance between the haves and have nots appears to be growing. (Again, this program had a separate 70-game streak within the same decade.) I'm not literally suggesting that Connecticut be kicked out of the college game—although they might do just fine in the WNBA—but someone better figure out how to translate their success to the rest of the country before there's no one left for them to play against.
Jeremy Schaap On UConn's Streak [Video @ ESPN]