Really, really good, sports fans.
No. 1 Connecticut (31-4, 13-3 Big East), whom the Lady Lions will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday in Kingston, RI., are one of the three or four best teams in women’s basketball, and that’s not a point that can be argued.
And here are the many reasons why.
- They haven’t been ranked lower than fourth in the nation in any of this year’s 19 AP Polls.
- They’ve defeated a whopping ten ranked teams this season, including wins over then-No. 3 Stanford, No. 5 Duke, and No. 3 Notre Dame by an average margin of 10.7 points. Their four losses have come to teams that are at least a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. By comparison, the Lady Lions have defeated six ranked teams, with the highest-ranked one of them then-No. 9 Ohio State.
- You know the saying “defense wins championships”? Well, UConn has a lot of that. They’ve held opponents to 45.7 points per game, the best number in the game. The nearest team in a major conference to that number? South Carolina, which frankly isn’t close at 50.4.
- UConn has the best scoring margin in basketball at plus-30.7. Consider how tough their Big East schedule was this year (4th in RPI). Now consider that the team with the second-best scoring margin is undefeated Baylor at a full 3 points away (plus-27.7). Oh yeah this all means they have the 7th-best points per game number in basketball at 76.4.
- The coach of the Huskies is kind of a big deal. Some guy named Geno Auriemma. He has seven national championships under his belt, including three in a row from 2002-04, and six Coach of the Year awards. His career record of 802-128 gives him the best winning percentage among active coaches. He also led the longest active winning streak in the history of college basketball at 88 games, a run that included two straight undefeated seasons.
- Every non-freshman player on Connecticut is coming off a Final Four appearance last year, and all the upperclassmen have fresh memories of national championships in their heads. Meanwhile, no Lady Lion has played in a Sweet Sixteen game, and coach Coquese Washington has never been the head coach of a Sweet Sixteen team.
None of this is to say the Lady Lions have no chance against the Huskies. But boy, oh boy, they have their work cut out for them.