Was UConn losing good for women’s college basketball?

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma talks with the media following their loss to Mississippi State in an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the women's Final Four, Friday, March 31, 2017, in Dallas. Mississippi State won 66-64. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Connecticut critics will now get to see if they were right. Was the Huskies’ absurd winning streak killing women’s basketball?

In case you somehow missed it, that 111-game streak is over. Mississippi State ended it with a 66-64 win in overtime at the Women’s Final Four on Friday night.

The Bulldogs’ Morgan Williams made a basket as the buzzer sounded:

Here’s UConn coach Geno Auriemma’s reaction after the shot went in:

And here’s his gracious post-game news conference:

These stats are pretty incredible:

Here’s some of the best reaction to UConn getting upset:

Over the past few years, much has been said about UConn’s winning streak potentially ruining women’s basketball. The thinking goes: If the Huskies are so dominant, why bother to pay attention? No other team has a chance.

After Mississippi State ended the winning streak, that topic came to mind for many:

In a staff editorial, The Hartford Courant wrote that the Huskies weren’t bad for women’s basketball, but UConn losing won’t hurt, either:

The rest of the nation might have needed this. The Huskies’ loss can inspire every school in the country. If Mississippi State can do it — led by a remarkable player known as “Itty Bitty,” of all things — then anyone could take down Goliath. Also, the rest of the nation is pretty sick of New England teams being so good (looking at you, Tom Brady). The Huskies haven’t killed the women’s game, as others have said. Even in defeat, they are the best thing for the game. They set the bar impossibly high, and another team met the challenge. The illusion that there is an inviolable ruling class in women’s basketball has been shattered by a team that the Huskies beat last year by 60 points.

USA Today’s Nina Mandell says Friday night’s game received so much attention because of UConn, so the Huskies weren’t causing that much harm:

It was also a sign of what UConn did for women’s college basketball: It elevated everyone. It did something extraordinary for women’s basketball. Without its dominance, its fall would have never been so dramatic.

The TV ratings back up Mandell’s argument:

CBS Sports’ Howard Megdal compares the women’s game now to where the men’s game was during UCLA’s dominance:

The potential payoff for the sport should be considered. Remember that in Connecticut and Auriemma, the comparison is often made to John Wooden’s UCLA. That not only makes sense numerically — Wooden’s 10 championships only bested by Auriemma’s 11, the matching mystique and success more than a little reminiscent in Storrs of what once was taken for granted in Westwood — but the men’s and women’s games are at similar stages in development.

What do you think? Was UConn’s 111-game winning streak good or bad for women’s basketball?

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