Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, December 17, 2010

UConn's March To 88 Straight: Dominating AP Polls In The 21st Century

By Mel Greenberg

The potentially new historical moment for the top-ranked Connecticut Huskies (9-0) is only two days away from Sunday in New York where they will play No. 11 Ohio State (8-1) in the second game of the Maggie Dixon Classic before an expected sellout crowd in Madison Square Garden.

Unless the Buckeyes can pull a stunning upset as Syracuse pulled on them a week ago in upstate New York to drop Ohio State from sixth to 11th, Connecticut will head home to Storrs with a record-tying 88-game win streak in Division I to match the feat pulled by the UCLA men under the late John Wooden in 1971-74.

And then it will be on to Tuesday night in the XL Center in Hartford before another expected sellout where No. 15 Florida State (9-1) and 40 minutes, barring overtime, will be the final barrier standing in the way of coach Geno Auriemma’s squad establishing a new standard for men and women.

“I told him I hope he goes on a gets over a 100,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza related this week. The former Virginia star was an assistant with the Huskies for 14 seasons before moving to Philadelphia in July 2008 to succeed her friend Dawn Staley in charge of the Owls.

“He said, `Yeah, right. Let’s just worry about winning the next game.’”

In some ways it is fitting that fate has not only brought Auriemma up against his former boss, Ohio State coach Jim Foster who hired him as an assistant in 1978 in Philadelphia, but also that the game after Rutgers (7-4) meets No. 8 Texas A&M (8-1) is part of an event named for the late Army coach, who is a sister of Pittsburgh men’s coach Jamie Dixon.

Maggie Dixon died suddenly of heart disease in April 2006 soon after she had led the Black Knights into a first-ever Patriots League title and NCAA tournament appearance.

Auriemma had been well acquainted with her from the time she previously served as an assistant to his good friend DePaul coach Doug Bruno, who was one of his assistants last September when Auriemma guided the United States to a gold medal in the FIBA World Championship in Czechoslovakia.

Media speculation, especially from those on the daily UConn beat, has suspected the Big East of conspiring to land the Huskies into their destiny date in New York by inserting two conference games into the December schedule.

Of course, people forget that the Huskies still had to get past No. 2 Baylor, which they managed by a point, to keep the streak going.

Over the summer, prior to the Big East dates being set, it was calculated that UConn would play game No. 88, if the streak was still alive, at Pacific, and then head to No. 3 Stanford on Dec. 30 to attempt to establish a new standard.

Considering the Cardinal almost ruined UConn’s second straight trophy bid in last April’s NCAA title game, it certainly made that contest loaded with intrigued.

Well, it might be have been less loaded after DePaul in Chicago at the McGrath Arena routed Stanford 91-71Thursday night, depriving visiting coach Tara Vanderveer of getting career win 800 in her first shot.

Her next attempt comes Sunday at Tennessee where Pat Summitt is already in the 800 club along with retired Texas coach Jody Conradt, Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell.

But as far as any Big East conspiracy to help the Huskies establish the record while still on the Atlantic seaboard, not true, according to several conference coaches and one official in the home office, even though UConn has benefitted.

Coaching sources said since the conference grew to 16 teams, they’ve been told at the summer league meetings that at least one game had to be played in December instead of the January start month for most conferences.

“I didn’t realize UConn was playing two,” said one coach, who added, “But I will tell you the conference will also make moves to help TV appearances.”

That’s apparently what happened, according to Barbara Jacobs of the conference office.

“They have three bye games after January – North Carolina, Duke, and Oklahoma, so something had to be done to balance things out,” she said in terms of UConn getting that second game, which was a recent win at home over Marquette.

The Current Millennium And UConn In AP History

Meanwhile, this has also been the week Associated Press women’s basketball poll ranking history reached its 600th tally dating to the first vote in November 1976.

For that alone and especially in conjunction with the UConn achievements, the Guru has been digging into his computer vault filled with mega-data of performances in the 35-year history of the rankings begun in November, 1976.

Obviously, the Guru has re-thought a little bit and then a lot more almost immediately about revising his earlier posting this week that covered comparisons with the rest of the ranked teams since UConn joined the group for the final two polls of 1989-90.

Those first two appearances were left out to make the extraction and filtering easier out of the database but the reality is that it would be much better to do the same drill again beginning with the 1999-2000 season when UConn really stepped it up with NCAA title No. 2 that was won in Philadelphia near where Auriemma spent his formative years in Norristown to the northwest of the Philly city limits.

Tennessee can never really be left out of the mix in these dominance comparisons though the two powers haven’t played since Hall of Fame Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt cancelled the series after the 2007 season.

But the nod still goes to UConn when one counts 7 of 11 No. 1 finishes in the final poll, six NCAA titles, and more than half of the 214 weeks in the count spent at the top of the rest of the brood.

One can also point to the large abundance of players from senior Maya Moore to the ex-Huskies with WNBA All-Star pedigrees who joined Auriemma on the World Championship squad without getting much complaint from the rest of the basketball universe over their selections.

Those players largely contributed to the UConn numbers that follow.

So here we go hoping the Guru doesn’t make any more typos in the middle of the night reading his scribbles off the data as he was correctly accused of doing the other day by his fans on the Boneyard message board in Huskies nation.

You are all deputized as proof readers, who are invited to question the Guru through emails anytime. Apple really invented the iPad so the Guru can make corrections on the go.

An now, the data readout:

Teams Ranked No. 1 From 1999-2000 Until Now
(214 weeks exist in the total period for all ensuing data below, including six through this season and week).

1. Connecticut 121 (Huskies won 6 NCAA titles)
2. Duke 34
3. Tennessee 24 (Lady Vols won 2 NCAA titles)
4. LSU 11
5. Maryland 10 (Terrapins won 1 NCAA title)
6. North Carolina 5
tie Notre Dame 5 (Irish won 1 NCAA title)
8. Stanford 2
tie Texas 2

Consecutive Weeks Ranked No. 1
(Minimum 20 weeks for all streak marks in these comparisons)

1. Connecticut 49* Feb. 18, 2008 thru current week – all-time record
2. Connecticut 30 Nov. 9, 1999 thru Jan. 15, 2001
No one else reached 20

Teams Ranked In The Top 5 From 1999-2000 Till Now
1. Tennessee 175
2. Connecticut 170
3. Duke 119
4. Stanford 77
5. North Carolina 72
6. LSU 59
7. Maryland 43
tie Notre Dame 43
9. Oklahoma 42
10. George 34
11. Ohio State 32
tie Texas 32
13. Baylor 30
14. Louisiana Tech 20
15. Rutgers 17
16. Kansas State15
17. Purdue 10
tie Xavier 10
19. Iowa State 9
tie Texas Tech 9
tie Vanderbilt 9
22. Penn State 8
23. Nebraska 7
24. North Carolina State 6
tie Texas A&M 6
26. California 5
27. Auburn 4
tie UCLA 4
29. Louisville 2
tie Wisconsin 2

Consecutive Top 5 Appearances (1999-2000 Thru Now)
(Minimum 20 weeks)
1. Connecticut 70, Feb. 5, 2007 thru current week
2. Connecticut 57, Nov. 9, 1999 thru Nov, 4, 2002
3. Tennessee 54, Nov. 9, 1999 thru Feb. 25, 2002
4. Duke 46, Jan. 21, 2002 thru Mar. 15, 2004
5. Tennessee 42, Nov. 4 2002thru Nov. 29, 2004
6. LSU 37, Nov. 8, 2004 thru Mar. 13, 2006
7. Connecticut 35, Nov. 25, 2002 thru Mar. 8, 2004
8. Tennessee 34, Dec. 11, 2006 thru Mar. 17, 2008
9. Stanford 30, Feb. 16, 2009 thru current week.
10. Texas 25, Mar. 3, 2003 thru Nov. 22, 2004
11. Tennessee 22, Jan. 24, 2005 thru Feb. 20, 2006
12. Maryland 21, Nov. 3, 2007 thru Nov. 1, 2008

Teams Ranked in the Top 10 From 1999-2000 Till Now
1. Connecticut 205
2. Tennessee 204
3. Duke 179
4. Stanford 145
5. North Carolina 121
6. LSU 105
7. Baylor 101
8. Ohio State 80
9. Notre Dame 79
10. Oklahoma 78
11. Georgia 77
12. Purdue 76
13. Rutgers 73
14. Louisiana Tech 70
15. Maryland 65
16. Texas Tech 54
17. Iowa State 42
18. Texas 40
19. Penn State 37
20. Kansas State 33
21. Texas A&M 31
22. Vanderbilt 27
23. Auburn 24
tie California 24
25. Xavier 18
26. Louisville 17
27. Florida State 16
tie Michigan State 16
tie North Carolina State 16
30. Minnesota 14
31. Arizona State 12
32. West Virginia 11
33. UCLA 10
34. Nebraska 9
35. Florida 7
36. South Carolina 6
37. Arkansas 5
38. George Washington 4
tie Kentucky 4
tie UC Santa Barbara 4
41. Wisconsin 3
42. Oregon 2
43. Colorado 1
tie DePaul 1
tie Houston 1
tie Illinois 1
tie Mississippi St. 1
tie Oklahoma State 1
tie Old Dominion 1

Consecutive Top 10 Appearances (1999-2000 Thru Now)
(Minimum 20 Straight)
1. Tennessee 175, Nov. 9, 1999 thru Dec. 8, 2008
2. Duke 107, Jan. 7, 2002 thru Nov. 19, 2008
3. Connecticut 102, Mar. 14, 2005 thru now
4. Connecticut 101, Nov. 9, 1999 thru Dec. 20, 2004
5. North Carolina 92, Nov. 8, 2004 thru Feb. 23, 2009
6. Maryland 57, Nov. 21, 2005 thru Nov. 24, 2008
7. Ohio State 52, Dec. 6, 2004 thru March 12, 2007
8. Stanford 50, Nov. 6, 2002 thru Feb. 2, 2004
9. Rutgers 45, Feb. 14, 2005 thru Nov. 17, 2008
10. LSU 40, Nov. 8, 2004 thru Nov. 20, 2006
11. Georgia 38, Nov. 9, 1999 thru Mar. 12, 2001
12. Notre Dame 37, Dec. 27, 1999 thru Dec. 9, 2002
tie Oklahoma 37, Jan. 29, 2001 thru Jan. 29, 2007
14. Texas A&M 35, Dec. 2, 2002 thru Mar. 8, 2004
15. Stanford 33, Jan. 6, 2009 thru current week.
16. Baylor 31, Nov. 8, 2004 thru Feb. 20, 2006
tie Stanford 31, Feb.12, 2007, Jan. 12, 2009
18. Iowa State 30, Mar. 6, 2000 thru Jan. 7, 2002
19. Baylor 29, Nov. 17, 2008 thru Jan. 19, 2010
20. Purdue 26, Nov. 26, 2001 thru Jan. 13, 2003
21. Tennessee 25, Oct. 30, 2009 thru current week.
22. Kansas St. 23, Nov. 4, 2002 thru Nov. 27, 2003
23. Duke 22, March 13, 2000 thru Nov. 19, 2001
tie Ohio State 22, Mar. 9, 2009 thru Dec. 6, 2010
tie Purdue 22, Mar. 10, 2003 thru Jan. 23, 2006
26. Duke 21, Dec. 7, 2009 thru current week.
tie Louisiana Tech 21, Nov. 9, 1999 thru Nov. 13, 2000
28. LSU 20, Nov. 21, 2002 thru Nov. 20, 2003
tie Oklahoma 20, Nov. 1, 2008 thru Nov. 29, 2010
tie Stanford 20, Mar. 15, 2004 thru Mar. 14, 2005
tie Vanderbilt 20, Mar. 5, 2001, Mar. 11, 2002

AP Total Rankings (1999-2000 Till Now)
(214 total weeks in period)
1. Connecticut 214
tie Tennessee 214
3. Duke 213
4. Stanford 192
5. Georgia 186
6. North Carolina 181
7. LSU 180
tie Oklahoma 180
9. Vanderbilt 165
10. Texas 161
11. Baylor 156
12. Notre Dame 152
13. Purdue 148
14. Ohio State 139
15. Rutgers 130
16. Texas Tech 117
17. Louisiana Tech 104
18. Maryland 102
19. Michigan State 98
20. Iowa State 94
21. Penn State 92
22. Kansas State 91
23. Texas A&M 87
24. Auburn 85
25. Minnesota 83
26. Boston College 82
tie DePaul 82
28. Arizona State 74
29. California 60
30. North Carolina State 59
31. Old Dominion 58
32. Xavier 54
33. Florida 52
tie Virginia 52
35. Colorado 51
36. George Washington 48
tie Mississippi State 48
38. Arizona 46
39. UC Santa Barbara 43
tie Utah 43
41. Florida State 42
tie Louisville 42
43. UCLA 39
44. Oklahoma State 38
tie TCU 38
46. West Virginia 37
47. Wis.-Green Bay 33
48. South Carolina 32
49. Oregon 30
tie Virginia Tech 30
tie Wisconsin 30
52. Arkansas 26
tie Temple 26
54. Nebraska 25
55. Kansas 23
56. Missouri State 21
tie Villanova 21
58. Colorado State 20
59. Georgia Tech 19
tie Tulane 19
61. Kentucky 18
tie Marquette 18
63. BYU 17
tie Iowa 17
65. Bowling Green 16
tie Georgetown 16
tie Illinois 16
68. St. John’s 15
69. Michigan 13
tie Wyoming 13
71. Middle Tennessee 12
72. South Dakota State 11
73. Cincinnati 10
tie Clemson 10
tie Houston 10
76. Gonzaga 9
tie Washington 9
78. Miami 8
79. James Madison 7
tie Marist 7
81. Syracuse 6
tie UTEP 6
83. Southern California 5
84. Hartford 4
85. Mississippi U. 3
86. Dayton 2
tie Fla. International 2
88. Drake 1
tie Illinois State 1
tie Missouri 1
tie Montana 1
tie San Diego St. 1
tie Toledo 1

That’s it.

-- Mel

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