UConn Women's Basketball: Where Does Their Streak Rank Among the Best Ever?
On Sunday afternoon, the University of Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team won their 88th straight game. This adds to the record for the women's game that they already established. It also tied the men's record set by John Wooden at UCLA in the 1970s.
Tonight, they will have a chance to surpass that record as they host Florida State.
We have seen impressive winning streaks in the world of sports, both college and pro. The Huskies' streak is quite spectacular for several reasons. They have won all but two games by double digits, and those came against No. 2 Stanford in the title game last year (which they won by nine) and against a No. 2 Baylor team this season, which was by far the closest call the Huskies have had this whole time.
But how great is the streak, exactly? Let's compare.
UCLA Bruins Men's Basketball: 88 Straight Wins 1971-1974
When the UCLA Bruins defeated UC Santa Barbara 74-61 on January 30, 1971, nobody had any idea how long the Bruins would keep winning for. They would win the remainder of their games that season, concluding by defeating Villanova for the NCAA Championship.
The next year, they would again go undefeated, ultimately beating Florida State for the NCAA title. In the end, they would not lose again until January 19, 1974, when they lost to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 71-70. Notre Dame had also been the last team to defeat the Bruins prior to the streak beginning.
It should be noted, however, that the Bruins had a much easier road to the wins than these Huskies have. Their regular season schedule was not nearly as strong as the Huskies' has been. Although the Huskies have played (and dominated) multiple Top 10 teams along the way as part of their non-conference schedule, UCLA played largely against opponents in the Western United States. At the time, the west was the weakest basketball area, and the Bruins basically could pick almost any basketball prospect they wanted, if not west of the Mississippi, then at least west of the Rockies. Today, even in the women's game, the Huskies at least face some competition from schools like Tennessee, Stanford, and Notre Dame for prospects.
Also, at the time, the NCAA tournament "regionals" actually were regional, which means as a team from the west, UCLA had a much easier time winning. In 1972, for instance, the Bruins came out of the Western regional and defeated Weber State and Long Beach State on their way to the Final Four. Florida State, out of the Mideast regional, was forced to defeat Eastern Kentucky, Minnesota, and Kentucky before reaching the Final Four.
Due to the expansion of the NCAA Tournament over the last 40 years, there are a lot more "weak" teams in the field, but even still, the Lady Huskies managed to defeat tough teams from Iowa State and Florida State in the regional semifinals and final respectively (UCLA effectively started in the Round of 16, so comparing results from earlier in the tournament than that is tough).
Nevertheless, it was still a very impressive streak for the Bruins and for coach John Wooden. It is also worth noting that Notre Dame is the Big East team most likely to end UConn's streak in the forseeable future. The Huskies play at the Irish on January 8th. If they can get past a road game at Stanford 10 days earlier, that will prove to be the next challenge for the Huskies.
Penn State Nittany Lions Women's Volleyball: 109 Straight Wins 2007-2010
The Penn State women's volleyball team has been one of the most dominant college programs in recent memory. Although volleyball may not have all the glamor of a money sport like basketball, four straight championships and 109 straight wins are still very impressive.
Penn State's streak started on September 21, 2007, as they beat Michigan State three sets to none. This was coming off of a loss to Stanford in five sets two days earlier. And it would be the Cardinal who would ultimately end the Nittany Lions' amazing streak almost three years later. On September 11th, 2010, an upstart Stanford team defeated Penn State in a surprising three sets to none victory.
It is worth noting that both UCLA and Penn State had their streaks snapped against the last team to have beaten them. The last team to beat UConn is the Stanford University Cardinal (in the 2008 Final Four), and the Huskies face them again in Palo Alto on December 30. Can Stanford University snap another long winning streak? It will be 90 wins for the Huskies if they can get past the Seminoles and the Pacific Tigers.
Oklahoma Sooners Football: 47 Straight Wins 1951-1954
The Oklahoma Sooners opened the 1953 football season with a loss to Notre Dame. They would tie Pittsburgh the next week. But they would then pull off a remarkable streak of 47 straight wins.
The team that would ultimately beat them again was Notre Dame, in November of 1957, a 7-0 loss for the Sooners. The late 1940s and 1950s were alltogether a period of dominance for Oklahoma. They won or shared 14 straight conference titles during that span.
As with UCLA and Penn State, the team to snap the Sooners' win streak was ultimately the last team to have beaten them. Which means UConn should watch out for Stanford.
Los Angeles Lakers: 33 Straight Wins 1971-1972
On November 5, 1971, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Baltimore Bullets 110-106 to begin what would be a 33 game win streak. It would ultimately be over six more weeks before the Lakers lost again, falling 120-104 to the Milwaukee Bucks on January 9. In this case, it was not the Bucks who had beaten the Lakers right before the streak. Rather, that honor goes to the Golden State Warriors, who defeated the Lakers 109-105 on October 31.
But by the time the Lakers had finished, they ran off the longest win streak in NBA History. They would go 69-13 that season, and for awhile, that was the best record ever by an NBA team.
Camarero: 56 Straight Horce Racing Wins 1953-1955
His name translates to "waiter" in Spanish. And this Puerto Rican Thoroughbred was quite dominant. He won 56 straight races from 1953-1955, which today stands as a record. He never ran in any major race outside Puerto Rico, but he was nevertheless the first inductee to the Puerto Rico Horse Racing Hall of Fame.