Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The post where I complain about women's basketball, but not for the reasons I would have two or three years ago

UConn can't lose. Literally.
Getty Images

I enjoy a good game of women's basketball, but it's hard to get interested in the Division I version because of its absurd lack of parity.

Of course this is best illustrated by Connecticut's current 78-game winning streak, which includes back-to-back titles. But take a look at Sunday's Final Four matchups: Stanford was a 13.5-point favorite against Oklahoma, and UConn was a 25-point favorite against Baylor. As a fan, how are you supposed to get excited when a game that will decide one of the championship teams is expected to be won by slaughter rule? It's like the Yankees playing the Royals in the ALCS. It didn't get much better in the championship game: the Huskies were a 14.5-point favorite against fellow 1 seed Stanford.

And here's the other issue, perhaps the most important one: two teams--Connecticut and Tennessee--have won 15 of the 29 women's basketball championships. That's right, two teams have combined to cut down the nets in over half of the championship games ever played. UConn won the last two, and Tennessee went back-to-back before that. The Huskies won four of five titles and three in a row from 2000-2005, three of them over ... Tennessee. But Connecticut wasn't the first team to accomplish a three-peat: Tennessee did so in the mid-90s, right on the heels of a championship campaign for ... UConn. In case you lost track, that's 14 of the last 24 titles that went to one of those two teams.

And lest you think this is bound to happen due to a limited number of women's teams, there are over 330 women's teams compared to 347 men's teams. Not exactly a recipe for two-team domination.

In general, parity is a good thing in team sports--it's always good to know that you should expect a little bit of the unexpected. But in Division I women's basketball, you can expect the same thing to happen year in and year out.

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