Sunday, March 27, 2016

The farce is with them

So the worst team in women's college basketball won big the other night, beating some schmoes from Mississippi State 98-38 after leading at one time by a preposterous 68 points.

It was the worst team's 72nd straight win. They have won 21 straight NCAA tournament games, most by absurd margins. And they are going to win their fourth straight national title in 10 days unless there is some catastrophic occurrence, like a comet hitting the Earth.

So why are the UConn Huskies the worst team in women's college basketball?

Because they are the best team by such a ridiculous margin they are ruining the game.

Nothing renders a sport irrelevant like knowing who's going to win ahead of time, and UConn has all but reduced women's college hoops to that farcical state. If the Huskies are not a professional basketball team in fact, they are at the very least playing one on TV.

That Mississippi State team they destroyed the other night?

It's not like it was some middle school five. The Bulldogs were 28-8. They were a 5 seed. And yet the mismatch was so ludicrous it was virtually unwatchable. And the worst part was that one of the UConn stars was a freshman, Katie Lou Samuelson, who scored 21 points to become only the third UConn freshman ever to have two 20-point NCAA games.

So while Breanna Stewart, the best player in the women's game, graduates in May, the next Stewart seems already to be waiting in the wings. And so the beatings will go on.

The great irony here is that while UConn is making the women's tournament the hoops version of a sitcom rerun, outside its sphere the women's game may be as competitive as it's ever been. There have actually been more lower seeds win games this year than in the men's tournament. And on the same night UConn was winning its howler against Mississippi State, two No. 1 seeds -- Notre Dame and South Carolina -- both were knocked out of the tournament.

Which rarely used to happen on the women's side.

And which, most likely, will simply make UConn's march to the title even more a rote exercise.

This is not to say there's anything anyone can do about this. There isn't. Geno Auriemma is the best coach in women's hoops by miles and miles, and he's simply built a program that has elevated itself to the point where it should probably have its own private division in NCAA Division I. Maybe NCAA Division I-C, for "Connecticut."

Absent that, the only hope for the women's game is that more Genos come along to challenge him. His only legitimate challenger right now is Muffet McGraw at Notre Dame, who's built a facsimile juggernaut herself in South Bend. But she could use some reinforcements.

The worst team in women's college hoops, meanwhile, moves on to play Texas Monday night.

Please give the Huskies a game, Longhorns. Or better yet, beat them. Do it for your sport.

UPDATE: Auriemma defends program with flawed analogy, kind of misses the point.

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