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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Summing Up the NCAA Season—Domination and Parity Both on the Menu

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Photo Credit: Original Artwork Courtesy istockphoto.com©




By Clay Kallam
Correspondent

It’s setting up to be a strange year in the NCAA.

If you look at it from one angle, there’s domination; and yet from another, there’s parity – and in neither case is the view making anyone happy.

Domination

The domination is pretty obvious: Connecticut 91, Seton Hall 24; Baylor 99, Texas State 18; North Carolina 101, Winston-Salem State 38; Texas 114, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 53; and South Dakota State 82, Centenary 35 are all scores from one Saturday of action.

The first two are of particular interest, especially UConn and Seton Hall. The Pirates, after all, are nominally a BCS school, and have, if not a big budget, certainly one that Centenary envies. To only score only 24 points in 40 minutes of play gives new meaning to the word “embarrassing,” even against a team as good as the Huskies, and for an 8-6 team that has been at .500 for the past few seasons, it’s more than that. It is, in the lingo of the day, an epic fail.

Baylor’s beatdown of Texas State is a little more understandable, as Texas State is No. 305 in RPI and has not beaten a Division I team – but still, 18 points? The Bobcats have 15 scholarships available, just like every other D-1 school, and has 16 players on the roster, but somehow barely managed a point per player against Baylor.

Winston-Salem State put up a bit more of a fight, at least, but it’s hard to see how anyone benefited from any of these games, even if the losers got a nice check for their efforts (or lack thereof). It certainly doesn’t make the sport look any more attractive with these routs, as casual fans can only wonder how bad a team is that can only manage 18 points in a college game.

For most fans, though, the domination starts and ends in Storrs, where Geno Auriemma’s juggernaut seems destined to roll over all comers en route to yet another national title. Of course, UConn might lose a game (to Notre Dame, maybe, or Rutgers), and it’s even possible that the Huskies will get upset in the NCAA tournament, but it would be a shock if they somehow stumble. After all, Stanford, the clear No. 2 in the nation, was just as clearly not nearly as good as Connecticut.

Stanford, though, appears to be a cut above the next tier, which would include Baylor, Tennessee and Notre Dame – not that it would be a surprise if any of those three did manage to beat the Cardinal. Which leads us to the other piece of the puzzle: Parity.

Parity

Once you get past the top teams, there’s a horde of schools that could all beat each other, and no one would be surprised. Really, would you be stunned if Duke beat Georgia? Or Texas A&M beat LSU? Or even if Texas beat Ohio State?

And now that conference play is beginning, no longer will teams get to feast on cupcakes in the friendly confines – which means that ranked teams are going to start losing with regularity. In most years, some of those losses would be worth mentioning, worth talking about to the other women’s fans you know. But this year, it will be just another ho-hum odd result in a confusing year. USC beat Arizona State? No kidding. And next week, USC will lose to Cal and Arizona State will beat Oregon. And then it will be reversed, most likely.

The result? The meaning of the games becomes diluted by the parity. There aren’t any real upsets, any wow moments, because Illinois knocking off Wisconsin is no more surprising, or interesting, than Wisconsin knocking off Illinois. (Of course, these outcomes matter to the fans of the schools, and indirectly to the fans of the rest of the Big 10, but in the grand scheme of things, it becomes harder for a fan of the sport overall to really grasp the shape of the season.)

And at the other end of the spectrum, when UConn and Stanford routinely pummel their supposed rivals, that is neither surprising nor interesting either. Of course, someone pulling off an upset of the Huskies would get to the top of SportsCenter, but how likely is that, given what we’ve seen so far?

In short, the rest of the year is looking like a somewhat boring march to an inevitable UConn coronation. There appears to be too much domination, and at the same time, too much parity, to really spice up the season – unless of course something drastic happens in Storrs, or some new challenger to the Huskies’ throne emerges from the parity pack that’s way too far behind them now.

 

 

Originally published Thu, January 07, 2010


Reader Discussion
Posted by madmax January 11, 2010

But this is not disheartening to better MidMajors, other than that top tier shelf. The fact that on any given day, esp. as the season progresses and our players gain confidence and experience, we can defeat a ranked team is renews our sense of optimism. UCONN games are boring, as any almost pre-determined game ending is-like watching re-runs. But it is not that way for say#10-50 or so teams in DI play.The parity is toward better players, not towards mediocrity-unless you watch Super team UConn vs #5 on back. People are turning off UConn to watch competitive games, which today is the largest % of D1 teams.

Posted by madmax January 11, 2010

But this is not disheartening to better MidMajors, other than that top tier shelf. The fact that on any given day, esp. as the season progresses and our players gain confidence and experience, we can defeat a ranked team is renews our sense of optimism. UCONN games are boring, as any almost pre-determined game ending is-like watching re-runs. But it is not that way for say#10-50 or so teams in DI play.The parity is toward better players, not towards mediocrity-unless you watch Super team UConn vs #5 on back. People are turning off UConn to watch competitive games, which today is the largest % of D1 teams.

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NCAA DIVISION I TOP 25 COACHES' POLL
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Week: February 7, 2012
RANK SCHOOL RECORD LAST WEEK'S RANK PRESEASON RANK AP RANK POINTS
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
(61)
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
(70)
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
(38)
92
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
(18)
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
(13)
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
(23)
NR-RV
(19)
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
Rank remains unchanged since last week
Ranking has risen since last week.
Ranking has dropped since last week.
Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.