The Baylor women’s basketball team beat Texas Southern 119-30 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was a farcical sort of contest, the likes of which is rarely seen in the men’s game. Baylor began the game on a 22-0 run, and the 89-point margin set a new tournament record.
Geno Auriemma, the Connecticut coach whose team has won 108 games in a row, has a theory about why these sorts of things are possible in women’s basketball. Basically, it’s that the women’s game hasn’t been around as long as the men’s game has, and it is in a different historical phase — something along the lines of where the men’s game was when UCLA won 10 national championships in a row.
That seems like a plausible theory, but it might not be a very good predictor of where women’s basketball is headed. Television played a large roll in bringing about the changes in college men’s basketball since the John Wooden years; its impact on women’s basketball remains small. And without a lucrative professional league calling out to teenage women’s basketball players, the dynamics of putting together a team, year in and year out, is a lot different than it is for an elite men’s program.
Whatever the future is, in the present we’ve got a team on a 108-game winning streak and one that just won by 89 points. Hard to imagine many people tuning in unless they’re playing each other.
Baylor’s 119 points were two shy of the NCAA record set by Alabama in 1995.