Michelle Smith summed up last night's Connecticut-Duke game perfectly on Twitter.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>This plot just never changes. Seen this movie a whole bunch of times. <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23espnW&src=hash">#espnW</a></p>— Michelle Smith (@leftcoasthoops) <a href="https://twitter.com/leftcoasthoops/statuses/413105839696646145">December 18, 2013</a></blockquote>
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I think the movie is The Karate Kid, with the movie stopping after that kid from Cobra Kai leg-sweeps Ralph Macchio and jumping straight to the credits.
Connecticut is the Cobra Kai of NCAA women's basketball. "Strike first, strike hard, no mercy!" Here are the last few Connecticut-Duke games for anyone who cares.
* 2013: Connecticut 83, Duke 61
* 2012: Connecticut 79, Duke 49
* 2012: Connecticut 61, Duke 45
* 2011: Connecticut 87, Duke 51
* 2010: Connecticut 81, Duke 48
* 2007: Connecticut 74, Duke 48
I'm sure I missed a few, but trust me, you should be glad I did if you're a Duke fan. At least six years of Duke pounding its head against a brick wall.
On the thread from last night's game, a fan wondered if ESPN should start looking at scheduling some other women's basketball game than Connecticut/Duke - one in which the teams are relatively competitive against each other. I don't know how often this particular game has been nationally telecast, but he or she's got a point. Connecticut/Duke really hasn't done much for women's basketball except leave a lot of people in Durham, North Carolina angry and depressed.
I'm starting to wonder if Duke isn't going to end up like Ohio State was under Jim Foster. Perpetually full of promise, perpetually disappointing. Since their visit to the finals in 2006, Duke hasn't got anywhere closer than the Elite Eight. Duke fell to #5 in my Elo Rankings, and maybe that's where they should have been all along.
But aside from that, here are the other games I wish I'd seen - instead of Connecticut/Duke, which I did see.
St. Bonaventure (9-4) beat Buffalo (5-4) 76-71 in overtime. The Bonnies outshot the Bulls 45-33 percent, but Buffalo got off a lot more shots - 79 FGA vs 55 FGA from St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies coughed up the ball 20 times; both teams combined for 50 personal fouls. (At least Connecticut/Duke was prettier.)
With 6:46 to go, Buffalo had a 10 point lead but St. Bonaventure answered with a 14-4 run. St. Bonaventure had two shots with six seconds left, and couldn't make either fall - but they'd lead the entire overtime period for the victory.
Alabama State (5-2) won at home against Florida A&M (6-6) by a 64-63 score in a battle of HBCUs. It was the fifth straight home win for Alabama State. The Lady Rattlers of Florida A&M led by 11 at one point in the second half, but the Lady Hornets of Alabama State hung in there and in the second half found and 11-0 run that cut Florida A&M's lead to just one point with 1:49 to go. There would be only one more shot hit during the game - a jumper by senior guard Nakiya Smith that gave Alabama State a one point lead. Florida A&M didn't get another shot off until near the buzzer, and their layup - and the putback that went with it - both failed to fall.
Stetson (6-4) beat Charlotte (4-6) 83-81 in a home win for Stetson. Charlotte won the rebounding battle 44-30, but the Hatters of Stetson would hit 23 of 28 free throws to get the win. Only eight players saw action for Stetson, but five of those players hit double digits. Five 49ers players would also score in double digits.
Charlotte got the lead down to 78-73 with just under a minute left, but a shot-clock violation gave Stetson the possession. With Stetson leading 83-78 with two seconds left, Charlotte freshman guard Lefty Webster hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that brought Charlotte within two points as time expired.
Elo Rankings at end of December 17, 2013:
1. Connecticut 11-0, 2. Tennessee 10-0, 3. Kentucky 11-0, 4. Notre Dame 9-0, 5. Duke 10-1, 6. Stanford 9-1, 7. Louisville 11-1, 8. Maryland 10-1, 9. Baylor 8-1, 10. North Carolina 9-2, 11. Oklahoma 7-3, 12. Colorado 9-0, 13. California 7-2, 14. Louisiana State 9-1, 15. Nebraska 8-2, 16. Iowa State 9-0, 17. South Carolina 9-0, 18. Purdue 7-2, 19. Oklahoma State 8-0, 20. Georgia 11-0, 21. Texas A&M 7-3, 22. Penn State 7-3, 23. Gonzaga 9-2, 24. Vanderbilt 8-2, 25. Dayton 3-4
So why is it that Duke has been unable to beat Connecticut? Is it an issue of talent, of coaching, or of luck? Feel free to add to the conversation!