After the University of Connecticut Huskies won their 109th straight game Monday, their chances of winning the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and carrying that win streak into next season remain just about steady at 48 percent (down a tick from 49 percent after round one), according to FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.
Up next for the Huskies is No. 4-seed UCLA, a team that was ranked 15th at the end of the season and that UConn hasn’t played since 2014. If UConn wins that game, it’ll have 110 straight wins, moving it clear of Penn State’s 109 consecutive wins in women’s volleyball in 2007-10 — acknowledged as one of the longest winning streaks in collegiate sports history.
Both streaks are over twice as long as the next-longest streak by any other entity in their sport. Before Penn State’s mark, the longest win streak by any other team in Division I women’s volleyball was USC’s 52 games in 2002-04. The longest streak in NCAA women’s basketball by a team other than UConn was 54 games by Louisiana Tech in 1980-82. (For comparison, UCLA men’s basketball’s heralded 88-game win streak was only 28 games longer than the previous record-holder’s.) Of course, Geno Auriemma’s UConn squad also holds the second- and third-longest streaks in women’s NCAA basketball, as well as the fifth-longest, which ended one game before the current streak began.
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Indeed, the Penn State streak may be the longest that is directly comparable to the current Huskies run. There doesn’t appear to be any official list of longest streaks across all sports, but the generally acknowledged record for a team winning streak is the Trinity College men’s squash team, which won 252 straight team meets from 1998 to 2012. Similarly, the University of Miami won 137 team tennis contests in 1957-64. But a team’s squash or tennis meet winning streak isn’t really the same as a game or match streak in a team sport, since each meet is a collection of smaller matches from an individual or pairs sport.
Individual sports have generated streaks longer than UConn’s. Cael Sanderson of Iowa State won 159 straight matches to go 159-0 in his collegiate wrestling career (other wrestlers have won more in a row than UConn’s 109 as well). But comparing individual dominance to team dominance is suspect. And other acknowledged streaks can be even more dubious, because they come from lower divisions or carve out a subset of games played — like Mount Union winning 112 straight regular-season games in Division III football.
In other words: Don’t miss Saturday’s game! The Huskies will be playing for a claim to the longest winning streak in collegiate team sports history.
But things get harder from there. To win this tournament, there’s a good chance that UConn will have to beat three of the next four highest-ranked teams. Barring upsets, the Huskies would face Maryland in the Elite Eight, Baylor in the Final Four and either Notre Dame or South Carolina in the final. If the Huskies face the Irish, they’ll be matching up against the team with the second-longest current win streak in NCAA women’s basketball, 16 games.
Check out our March Madness predictions.