Tonight, the Connecticut Huskies will square off against the Kentucky Wildcats in the men's National Championship Game in Texas. And after seeing the two Final Four matchups on Saturday night, it looks like the last game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament is going to be epic. But with all due respect to Kevin Ollie and John Calipari as well as Shabazz Napier and Julius Randle, do you know what we're really looking forward to? Tomorrow night.
Tomorrow night, the other Connecticut Huskies—the women's team helmed by legendary head coach Geno Auriemma—will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the women's National Championship Game. And it's a title game that will, for the first time in the history of the men's and women's NCAA Tournaments, feature two undefeated teams matching up against one another. The Huskies enter the game 39-0, while the Irish are 37-0. So there's going to be more than just a 'chip at stake. There's also an opportunity for one of the two teams to join a list of just eight other women's college basketball teams who have finished a season undefeated. And in UConn's case, a win against an undefeated team in a National Championship Game would go a long way towards solidifying them as the most dominant basketball program in college athletics history.
Then again, couldn't you already say that about the Huskies? They have been the team to beat in women's basketball for the better part of the last 20 years and have accomplished things that most programs, men's or women's, could only dream of. Although Auriemma—who took over the UConn program in 1985—struggled to find his footing in his early years with the team, he's spent the last two decades leading them to greatness over and over and over again. So with his team on the brink of making history tomorrow night, we thought we'd make a case for them being the best college basketball program ever. All you need to do is look at these numbers from the last 20 years to understand just how great they've been...
8: National titles that UConn has won since 1994. They are a perfect 8-0 in National Championship Games in the last 20 years and won titles in 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, and 2013.
24: The average number of points that UConn has won by in their 8 national title games. Their closest victory was a five-point win over Tennessee in 2003. But they won last year's title game over Louisville by a whopping 33 points.
4: Undefeated seasons for UConn with all of them coming in the last 20 years. Their 1995, 2002, 2009, and 2010 seasons all ended with them being undefeated. There have been collegiate teams from other sports who have enjoyed undefeated seasons over the last two decades like the UNC women's soccer team (27-0 in 2003 and 27-0-1 in 1997), the Boise State men's football team (13-0 in 2006 and 14-0 in 2009), and the Trinity College men's squash team (they won 252 straight matches between 1998 and 2012). But in one of the biggest college sports, UConn has been the model of consistency.
261: Home games UConn won against unranked opponents between March 1993 and February 2012. Prior to losing to unranked St. John's in 2012, the Huskies had also won 173 straight games against opponents outside of the Top 25.
55: The total number of losses that UConn has sustained since 1994. The Huskies have only lost more than five games once since that year (they lost eight games during the 2004-05 season).
90: Consecutive games that UConn won between 2008 and 2011. Their winning streak snapped the 88-game streak that the men's UCLA team went on between 1971 and 1974. UConn has currently assembled another 45-game streak heading into tomorrow night’s game.
31: UConn players who scored more than 1,000 points during their college basketball careers. That includes five players (Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters, Diana Taurasi, Nykesha Sales, and Tina Charles) who scored more than 2,000 points and one player Maya Moore who scored more than 3,000 points.
4: Former UConn players (Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, and Maya Moore) who have been selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft. UConn is the only school other than Tennessee to produce more than one first-overall pick.
25: UConn players who have been selected in the WNBA Draft since 1997. Only two of the 14 total WNBA Drafts have not featured at least one UConn player getting selected.
26: Consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for UConn between 1988 and 2014. That's a longer streak than anyone in the men's ranks has right now (Kansas has been to 25 consecutive NCAA Tournaments) and is just one shy of the UNC men's team's streak of 27 consecutive appearances between 1975 and 2001.
7: UConn players who have won the National Player of the Year Award over the last 20 years. Rebecca Lobo, Jennifer Rizzotti, Kara Wolters, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi (twice), and Maya Moore all won it.
7: Trips that UConn has made to the Final Four over the last seven years. They have made 14 Final Four trips overall over the last 20 years.
16: Times that UConn has finished either in first place or tied for first place in their conference over the last 20 years. The other four times they finished tied for second twice and in second twice.
16: Times that UConn has won their conference tournament over the last 20 years.
3: UConn's ranking on Sports Illustrated's list of the top 25 sports franchises of the decade between 2000 and 2009. They finished behind only the Los Angeles Lakers and the New England Patriots.
11: UConn players who have been named First Team All-Americans since 1994, including eight who were named to the First Team more than once. Svetlana Abrosimova and Diana Taurasi both earned the honors three separate times.
18: Years that UConn spent airing their games on Connecticut Public Television between 1994 and 2012. During that time period, they were the only women's college basketball team in the country to have all of their games televised, which helped increase visibility of the women's game.
7: Number of times Geno Auriemma has been named the AP Coach of the Year. In 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2008, 2009, and 2011 he was given the award. He has also won the Naismith Coach of the Year award six times. And clearly, he's done a hell of a job with the Huskies.