On Monday, the UConn men’s basketball team completed a remarkable run to win its fourth championship in the last 15 years. The following day, the UConn women completed another perfect season and won their ninth championship in the last 19 years. This was the second time that the men’s and women’s teams have won national titles in the same year, with the first occurring in 2004. This second time around, UConn may have set a record that will never been broken.
When considering the unbeatable records in sports, many of the numbers are remarkably large. Iron man streaks like Cal Ripken’s 2,632 or Brett Favre’s 297 consecutive games played come to mind. Also, records like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points in a game and Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak represent some of the most insurmountable records in all of sports. At two years with men’s and women’s championships UConn’s record may not be a very staggering number, but it may be just as insurmountable as some of these famous records.
There are three main factors that make will make this record extremely difficult to beat. The first factor is the large amount of parity on the men’s side. As we saw in this year’s tournament no team is safe. Powerhouses like Duke and Kansas were eliminated by the end of the first weekend, even after having stellar seasons. The rigor of winning six consecutive games in the tournament, especially the last few years, has made winning the national title a virtual crapshoot. Also, since 1995, no team has won more than 4 national titles (Connecticut and only four other teams have even won more than two in that same time period).
The second factor is the lack of parity in women’s basketball. Since UConn won its first national championship in 1995 13 out of 19 national titles have been won by either UConn or Tennessee. Additionally, the last few years there have been really only 6 programs that have competed perennially for a national title: Connecticut, Baylor, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee and Duke. Out of those programs, Duke has never won a title, Stanford has not won a title since 1992, and Tennessee is looking less like a power since the retirement of the legendary Pat Summitt. Out of the three remaining programs only Connecticut has ever won a men’s national title.
The last factor is that every year, the UConn women bring in the top recruiting class in the country. Compared to other programs, the UConn women have virtually an all-star team. This year alone, their starting five consisted of 3 All-Americans, a past All-American, and a freshman point guard who is a future All-American. As long as Geno Auriemma is the coach, these top recruiting classes aren’t going anywhere.
As it currently stands, the only program that has a legitimate chance of beating UConn’s record of two years with both men’s and women’s titles is UConn itself. If Kevin Ollie can maintain the same level of success his predecessor had, the women will surely be holding up their end of the bargain and they stand a good chance of extending their record.