Last night, with a win over the South Carolina Gamecocks, the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Team extended its already epic win streak to 100 wins. That 100th win encompasses more than two straight years of victories, the vast majority of which were earned by beating opponents by 40 or more points. It surpasses the team’s old streak of 90 games by a nice round number of 10 and beats the longest win streak by a men’s college basketball team by twelve. The Huskies have weathered injuries, close calls and changes in talent to reach this unprecedented mark. It’s truly awe-striking.
The 2016-2017 season is shaping up to be one of the best years for women’s college basketball. There have been really good games so far and it’s only going to get better from here. The New Year means conference play time and time to start thinking about March Madness. Now, GladiatHers®, I know what you’re thinking- you haven’t seen many games this year and you’re not sure who is mixing up the scene now that the 3 Super Giants, Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, are gone. And I know you don’t want to get your predictions wrong, especially after last year’s unpredictable Final Four. Well, I’m here to help. Remember these names when drawing up your brackets in March and as you watch women’s basketball in 2017…
If you read this blog with any sort of regularity, and by now you definitely should be, you know that I played sports for practically my entire childhood and until I graduated from college. I played tennis through college, ran track until I got to college and played soccer up until I got to high school. Last week, Megan Rapinoe, women from the Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury and other women in sports took knees during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustices in the United States. Watching these women and reading the comments sections (note to reader: never read the comments section) under articles about these women took me back to the days where my athletic prowess was on fleek. What dawned on me was that I don’t ever remember having the National Anthem played or flag raised at any of my events. Now maybe my 32-year-old mind is leaving out an occasional occurrence, but I can say with absolute certainty that it was nowhere near routine for the National Anthem to be played or flag to be acknowledged at the tennis matches, track meets or soccer games that I played in from my childhood to early adulthood. But the way Americans have reacted to a handful of athletes kneeling for the Anthem suggests that reverence for Old Glory before sporting events is a time-honored, almost mandatory tradition. So how was I robbed of such a large part of American culture for so long?
It’s rare that fans of women’s college basketball get to experience the madness of tournament time like those who watch the men’s tournament. Usually, in the NCAA women’s tournament, the higher seed wins; there aren’t too many shocking upsets. Well this year, the women have started to make up for lost time. The upsets have come early and often and we’ve loved every minute of it. It all started when no. 10 seed St. Bonaventure sent no. 7 seed Oklahoma State home in the first round. Round 2 gave us more of the same when no. 6 DePaul shocked everyone by beating no. 3 Louisville. And the underdogs only picked up steam from there. In round 2, no. 7 Washington left us flabbergasted with their win over no. 2 Maryland, a team many predicted to make it to the Final Four. Washington continued to bust brackets when they sent no. 3 Kentucky and no. 4 Stanford home in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, respectively. Not to be outdone, Tennessee’s no. 7 Lady Vols wreaked some madness of their own when they went from barely making the tournament to knocking off no. 2 Arizona State and no. 3 Ohio State on their way to the Elite Eight. This year also saw some no. 4 seeds end the Final Four hopes of no. 1 seeds when Syracuse beat South Carolina and Stanford beat Notre Dame in the Sweet Sixteen. It has been true madness at its finest.