So here's a little statistical food for thought relevant to the UCLA men vs. UConn women debate.
Yesterday, in response to kevb's Fanpost, both uclaluv and I argued that UConn's record-tying run has a lot to do with the distinct lack of parity in the women's game. UConn has managed to blow through 88 straight opponents in part because the drop off in talent from top tier teams (like UConn) to the majority of their opponents is so great. Rather than simply make the assertion without any evidence to back up this claim, I thought I'd try to find some statistical back up.
The best approach I could think of for measuring top tier teams and their middling counterparts was to look at the first and second round performances of #1 seeds in both the men's and women's NCAA tournaments. I was able to gather data from all but one NCAA tourney since the women went to a 64 teams back in 1994.
First the numbers for second round matchups (between #1 seeds and either 8 or 9 seeds):
|Wins||Losses||Average Margin||20+ Point Wins||30+ Point Wins|
And now the really outrageous numbers. Here are the stats for games between #1 and #16 seeds:
|Wins||Losses||Average Margin||30+ Point Wins||50+ Point Wins|
Even with the shocking upset loss on the books (Harvard over Stanford in the 1998 women's tourney) the numbers for women's #1s surpass those for men's #1s by a wide margin. My favorite number here is the 17 wins of 50 points or more by women's #1s. To give you an idea of how relatively bad a team has to be to lose by 50 in a 40 minute game, the two 50+ point losses on the men's side came from a 2009 Cattanooga team that went 11-9 in the Southern Conference and a 1998 Prairie View team that went 6-10 in the SWAC.
Based on these numbers, I'd say that top flight women's teams get to cakewalk more often than do top flight men's squads.
For the record, I think that Ariemma's 88 straight is a awesome accomplishment but I also think that putting it on par with Coach's record is misguided.