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UConn Was Going To Win That Game

Move over John Wooden, you’re no longer the only college basketball coach with 10 national championships. Connecticut just won its tenth national title, completing a perfect record of 10 NCAA championship appearances and 10 wins.

When the tournament started, our March Madness predictions model gave UConn a 74 percent chance of winning the title. That figure went as high as 86 percent before the national championship game against Notre Dame Tuesday night, which the Huskies won 63 to 53.

We were initially shocked by UConn’s projected success, enough to make us go back and adjust our model, which gave St. Francis College a mere 1 in 2.5 million chance of beating the Huskies in the first round. But as the tournament progressed, we continued to watch closely and research UConn’s stats, and came to understand just how dominant this team really was.


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In the average regular-season UConn game, the Huskies were winning by 25 points at halftime, and they were ahead at the half by an average of 18 points in the tournament. Tuesday’s championship game was a little different: UConn was held to an 8-point lead at the half, thanks to Notre Dame’s strong offensive and defensive rebounding, 10 and 14, compared to UConn’s 8 and 11.

But even Notre Dame’s strongest showing was no match for the best offense in the country — Moriah Jefferson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 15 apiece Tuesday. Nor could the Irish get through the best defense in the country, led by forward and now three-time Most Outstanding Player award-winner Breanna Stewart, who had 15 rebounds in the game.

Perhaps more importantly, we knew going into Tuesday’s game that UConn was twice as good as Notre Dame. Their matchup was still the best rivalry in women’s college basketball — but it’s hard to call it much of a rivalry when the Irish’s chances of upsetting UConn were 14 percent.

Here’s a look back at our model’s predictions for the Huskies, which never fell below 74 percent at any point in the tournament:

  • Round of 64: 74 percent chance to win the championship.
  • Round of 32: 76 percent.
  • Sweet 16: 77 percent.
  • Elite Eight: 82 percent.
  • Final Four: 79 percent.
  • Finals: 86 percent.
  • Tuesday night, 10:30 p.m.: 100 percent.

Allison McCann is a former visual journalist for FiveThirtyEight.

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