PARRY: UConn dominance could cause viewers to tune out

From left, Connecticuts Morgan Tuck, Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams watch the last moments of an NCAA college basketball game against Mississippi State in the regional semifinals of the women's NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Bridgeport, Conn. UConn won 98-38. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Two more wins for the Connecticut women’s basketball team and UConn completes a second unbeaten season in three years and a fourth-straight national championship.

It would be historic - but could also hamper the continued popularity of NCAA Division I women’s basketball.

Look, everyone loves a winner; especially in this country. Unbeaten seasons are celebrated and revered. And what UConn is in the midst of accomplishing will put it in the same conversation as John Wooden and UCLA.

But when undefeated seasons become commonplace they can also become tiresome - and frankly, uninteresting.

That is what is happening with UConn. By no fault of their own, the Huskies dominance of the women’s game has made the NCAA women’s tournament kind of ho hum. UConn has won its tournament games by an average of 44 points.

That is not exactly edge-of-your seat excitement.

Every hero needs a villain, or at the very least a rival to keep our interest. The sports-watching public loves greatness, but, just that in itself is not enough. There has to be some hint of a chance that the hero faces an obstacle they may not overcome.

If the UConn women are the heroes of this story - then who is the villain? Which team represents the yang to UConn’s yin?

Answer: No one.

And that is the problem.

I will be very interested in the ratings of the women’s NCAA Final Four games and championship game because I predict they will not be very good. Basketball viewers are experiencing UConn fatigue.

The Huskies have done nothing to deserve this except be great - maybe greater than any program ever in the history of sports.

But that does not create interest.

I want another coach and team against them that is equally as dominant and watchable.

Roger Federer became greater because of Rafael Nadal.

Tiger Woods was must-watch television each week, especially when he was paired up with rival Phil Mickelson.

In college in the mid 1990s I covered the Texas Tech Lady Raiders, which was a powerhouse women’s basketball team that was still glowing from its NCAA title in 1993. In each year afterward, however, it seemed Tech’s dreams were crushed in the tournament by the same team - the yang to UConn’s yin - the Tennessee Lady Vols.

From 1995 to 2004, everyone knew the NCAA Final Four would feature some combination of UConn and Tennessee. The two teams combined to win eight titles during that time. Even better was when the championship game featured the two rivals. That happened in four of those years.

It was great television and, I hazard a guess, it was a big reason that ESPN went all-in on women’s college basketball.

When UConn produced the first unbeaten season in 1995, it was awesome. When Tennessee did it in 1998, the feat still was noteworthy. But teams have now done it six more times since: 2002 (UConn), 2009 (UConn), 2010 (UConn), 2012 (Baylor) and 2014 (UConn).

Frankly, UConn being undefeated doesn’t move the needle like it did.

That leaves the opportunity to watch four consecutive national championships live on my television.

I would imagine men’s hockey in the winter Olympics was pretty non-eventful through the 1960s and 70s as Russia racked up gold medal after gold medal until a bunch of college kids from the USA produced a “Miracle on Ice.”

Maybe Oregon State will do the same.

That would do more for women’s basketball than another undefeated UConn season.



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