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Jeff Eisenberg

Comparisons with UCLA shouldn't detract from UConn's feat

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Since the UConn women's basketball team drew within a few victories of 88 in a row, the Huskies have been peppered with questions about how it would feel to match the record set from 1971-74 by John Wooden's legendary UCLA teams.

Unfortunately for UConn, it's a question that has no correct answer.

A dominant 81-50 victory over 10th-ranked Ohio State on Sunday was a fitting way for the Huskies to capture their 88th straight victory, but it did little to help them craft a response that will satisfy both their critics and their fans

If the Huskies insist they're the equal to the UCLA dynasty, they'll draw the ire of those who believed the Bruins accomplished more because of the greater talent and competition in men's basketball. If the Huskies don't acknowledge the significance of matching UCLA's hallowed streak, they're doing a disservice to themselves and to women's basketball.

"The number's the number," UConn coach Geno Auriemma told ESPN's Rebecca Lobo after the game. "I'm going to a good restaurant tonight. I'm going to have a good bottle of wine. I would have done that either way, but it just might taste a little better."

The comparisons between the Bruins and Huskies were probably inevitable, but it would be a shame if they detract from the accomplishments of either program.

The truth is the UCLA men and UConn women should be celebrated like boxers who dominated two different weight classes. Manny Pacquiao couldn't beat Mike Tyson in his prime, but that doesn't make either of their accomplishments any less phenomenal.

In UCLA's streak, the Bruins defeated 10 teams ranked in the top 10 and survived a handful of one-point and two-point victories. In UConn's streak, the Huskies defeated 16 teams ranked in the top 10, and only twice in 88 games has an opponent come within 10 points.

In this one-and-done era of men's college basketball when it's nearly impossible to sustain dominance for more than a year or two, the UConn women are probably as close as we'll ever come to another Wooden-era dynasty.

The Huskies will take aim at No. 89 on Tuesday against Florida State.

"It doesn't change anything that happened 35 years ago," Auriemma said. "If we were fortunate enough to win Tuesday night, that just means we'll have done something pretty special in women's basketball."

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