Will You Be Rooting For UConn This Weekend?

↵With so much fanfare surrounding the Men's Final Four each year, there usually isn't nearly as much for the women's. Yada yada yada, we know why. But this year is different. This year, the Connecticut women's basketball team is going for back-to-back undefeated seasons. You want to know how dominant the Huskies have been in women's basketball? They haven't lost a game since April 6, 2008. Not one game. ↵

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↵In 2004-05, the UConn women's team had their worst record of the last 17 years, finishing the season 25-8 and bowing out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. Since that season, UConn has lost just 11 games in the last five years, have three Final Four appearances and are on their way to yet another back-to-back national title run. ↵

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↵Could they lose? Sure, I guess they could lose. Coach Geno Auriemma wants people to think that Baylor center Brittney Griner could single-handedly beat them. But it won't happen. UConn is outscoring its opponents in this year's tournament 349-161. That's a margin of victory of 47 points per game. They are not going to lose unless the bus gets lost on the way to the gym. ↵So we've established that UConn is great, but now comes the question of whether or not people want them to be great. The Wall Street Journal tackled that question this week: ↵

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↵⇥Ask most supporters of women's college basketball about the amazing Huskies and you'll hear that their dominance is good for the game. ↵⇥

↵⇥"Not good, great," says LSU coach Van Chancellor. ↵⇥

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↵⇥"It's history in the making," says Tennessee's coach, Pat Summitt. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Setting aside the awesomeness of the feat and whether UConn's blowouts make for good TV, the laughingly lopsided nature of its wins does raise a fair, if slightly awkward, question: Is this the greatest college team of all time, or is there something desperately wrong with women's basketball? ↵⇥

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↵The story reports that most inside the game don't think there's a problem with the game. Shocker, I know. Coaches and analysts think the game is growing at a fine pace, and the competitive balance is better than it was in years past. The common metric for parity is the notion that upsets in the NCAA tournament are indicative of more depth in the field, but the WSJ indicates that while there are some upsets of top seeds, it's far from the norm. In addition, UConn and Tennessee have combined to win 11 of the last 15 national titles. So sure, there's a Yankees and Red Sox feel to whenever those two teams play – ESPN must have been devastated when Tennessee lost to Baylor in the Elite 8 – but outside of that rivalry, there is little interest outside of the sport's diehard fans. ↵

↵So, is it historic that UConn is winning everything by so much, or is it just boring? ↵

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↵John Wooden, who coached UCLA to 88-straight wins in the 1970s thinks the streak is good for the game. Then again, tell me the last time you think John Wooden watched a women's basketball game. As for the original question – will you be rooting for UConn – the most difficult part of getting behind the Huskies may be the same reason they're so great: Auriemma. ↵

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↵When I asked one women's hoops insider if Auriemma's personality may preclude sports fans from celebrating UConn's dominance, I was told, "he's not a jerk. He's confident. He's brash, and cocky, but not a jerk." (Okay, for full disclosure, the question was posed as, "I think he's a jerk. How right am I?") ↵

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↵As Auriemma, himself, told the WSJ when asked if his team's success was bad for the game: ↵

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↵⇥"I don't think anybody can say that being this good is bad," he says. "I guess only in America could people make comments like that." ↵
↵Confident. Brash. Cocky. Undefeated. Only in America.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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