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Point/Counterpoint: Which college team has been the most dominant this year?

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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Connecticut women’s basketball

Iowa wrestling, Penn State volleyball, Connecticut women’s basketball.

Which of these three is in a class by itself?

Hint: It’s the team that hasn’t even had a game in the last two years within double digits.

UConn women aren’t just the best in their sport. They’re dominating their game.

Penn State has had its scares, being pushed to a fifth set against Texas in the national championship.

Even Iowa only beat Iowa State in wrestling this year by two points; if Hawkeye heavyweight Blake Rasing had been pinned by David Zabriskie, the Hawks would have lost.

This year, UConn’s closest game was a 12-point win against Stanford, the team now ranked No. 2 nationally. When UConn played then-No. 3 Notre Dame on Jan. 16, the Huskies won, 70-46.

That’s not a game. That’s a scrimmage for UConn.

During last season’s national-championship run, the program’s closest contest was a 10-point game against Notre Dame. Then, the Huskies won the national championship by beating Louisville by 22 points. Domination.

Also consider the idea of talent distribution. Almost every college in the country has a women’s basketball team. Not as many have volleyball, and far fewer have varsity wrestling.

So when it comes to recruiting the best talent in the country, UConn coach Geno Auriemma deals with a far greater pool of competing schools than a top-tier wrestling program such as Iowa.

This also translates to the court, where UConn must be the best team out of 324 schools, not 83 others in D-I wrestling.

UConn’s dominance is something to be appreciated, in probably the most visible of the three sports.

Penn State’s title was never a sure thing until the final ball hit the floor, and Iowa’s wrestling title may be contested if the Hawkeyes have to face the Cyclones in the national championships.

But if it comes down to UConn against any other collegiate women’s basketball team in the country, I’ll guarantee the Huskies come out the victors.

— by Ian Martin

Iowa wrestling

The Iowa wrestling team has been the most dominant squad in college sports this year.

Honestly, I’m not even impressed with the Connecticut women’s basketball team’s winning streak.

Why? Because there is no parity in NCAA women’s basketball. There is in wrestling.

UConn has beaten No. 2 Stanford and highly ranked Notre Dame — twice.

The Huskies handled the Cardinal, 80-68, and torched the Fighting Irish, 70-46 and 76-51.

At first look, very impressive. But upon further review, these wins are more a demonstration of the nationwide inferiority than how good the Huskies are.

Stanford didn’t drop in the rankings after its loss, either. In losing to UConn by double digits, the Cardinal reinforced their superiority over every team but the Huskies.

The Connecticut women are basically a varsity high school team beating up on smaller, frightened eighth grade teams.

Besides, head coach Geno Auriemma already has a 70-game win streak (UConn’s is currently at 69). Can’t be that hard if you can do it twice.

But wrestling fanatics may notice similarities between the Huskie women and the Hawkeye wrestling program.

Both times after Iowa defeated No. 2 Iowa State this season, the Cyclones didn’t move in the rankings. During the teams’ meet in Ames, the outcome could have swung 180 degrees had one match flipped in the Cyclones favor.

Iowa State is almost every bit as talented as the Hawkeyes.

Same thing for Oklahoma State. Iowa edged the Cowboys, 19-16, proving there are at least two other teams in college wrestling that can keep up with the Hawkeyes — even if they can’t beat them.

So Iowa wrestling has been more dominant because of the level of competition they face.

No, these opponents have not beaten the Hawkeyes in their last 61 tries.

But unlike the Connecticut women, Iowa has actually faced teams of similar skill.

— by J.T. Bugos

Penn State volleyball

Penn State volleyball is synonymous with domination.

Leading in every offense category except aces (ranked third), the Nittany Lions went 38-0, 20-0 in the Big Ten, en route to their third-consecutive NCAA championship last fall.

Currently riding an incredible 102-match winning streak — second-longest in NCAA history — Penn State hasn’t lost in three years. There are juniors on the squad who don’t know anything other than success.

No disrespect to UConn women’s basketball or Iowa wrestling, but perhaps what makes the Nittany Lions’ accomplishment all the more impressive is that they play in the toughest conference in the country.

With as many as six teams in the Big Ten ranked in the top 25 at the beginning of the season, Penn State dominated all of them — with ease.

Going 96-5 in sets played this season, it’s not much of a surprised they finished with 60 unanimous first-place votes to remain at the top of the polls at season’s end.

Penn State showed no mercy. They dropped only five sets the entire season, making quick work by often sweeping their opponents, 3-0.

As a team, the Nittany Lions led in hitting percentage, assists, kills, and blocks. The only major statistic they don’t lead in is digs, but perhaps that’s skewed by the fact they are so dominant offensively. The ball is hardly returned enough to have to dig.

Individually, Penn State is stacked. With four starters in seniors Megan Hodge and Alisha Glass and juniors Arielle Wilson and Blair Brown being named All-Americans, it’s not hard to see why they are so successful.

Head coach Russ Rose has spent 30 years with the program and has the highest winning percentage in NCAA history at .863 (1,000-159) because he knows what it takes to win.

While UConn and Iowa both have impressive streaks, Penn State volleyball sets the standard.

— by Evelyn Lau


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