Monday, February 13, 2017

UConn Women Go for 100 Straight Wins

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team goes for its 100th straight win tonight, hosting South Carolina in a nonconference match-up. The 100-game mark seems mainly about symbolism, as the Huskies have already had a 90-game winning streak (snapped in 2010) and a 70-game victory stretch (ended in 2003). The John Wooden-coached UCLA men's basketball program pulled off an 88-game winning streak, which ended in 1974.

The following chart shows UConn's margin of victory in its last 99 games (arranged chronologically from left to right). Exact margins are shown up to 40 points, but if the Huskies won by more than 40, there's just a ">40" box on top. You can click on the graphic to enlarge it.

UConn used to be in the Big East, along with, at various times, such top women's hoop programs as Villanova, Notre Dame, and Louisville. However, after the big conference-realignment shake-out of the 2010s, the Huskies ended up in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), which at the moment doesn't have any real competitors for UConn.

UConn Margin of Victory in Last 99 Games

As seen in the light-blue columns above, UConn has won every AAC game (regular-season and conference-tournament), except two, by 20 or more points (games 51 and 31 in this list). The Huskies have won nearly 40 AAC games by 40 or more points. (Game 86, vs. Nebraska, has a typo; it should be 84-41.)

The royal-blue columns represent nonconference games (both in the regular season and in the NCAA tournament). To UConn's credit, it schedules many games against elite nonconference opposition, including Tennessee (until 2007), Notre Dame, Duke, Baylor, Maryland, Florida State, and tonight's opponent, South Carolina (curently ranked No. 6 in the nation). As can be seen, the heights of the royal-blue bars are much lower than the light-blue ones. In fact, twice this season UConn won by two and six points, against Florida State and Maryland, respectively.

The early 1970s UCLA men had a lot more close calls during its 88-game winning streak. According to this retrospective article, “Two games were one-point victories. Three more were by two points.” Another 11 wins by 4-9 points. Of course, the college game had neither a shot-clock nor a three-point shot at that time, Teams could hold the ball on UCLA and the lack of a three would have kept the scoring down.*

I would think UConn would be a heavy favorite tonight, but if there's any chance for the game to be competitive, having a strong nonconference opponent makes it more likely.

*The information on the UCLA men's streak was added later.