April 4, 2012

Is Baylor the Greatest Women's Team Ever?

By - Kris Fletcher

With their 80-61 win over Notre Dame in the NCAA women's final on Tuesday night, Baylor not only won a second national championship, but also finished the first 40-0 season in college basketball history.

Photo by: Getty Images
Sure, six other NCAA women's teams have gone undefeated, but none of them finished with 40 wins.

As the final minutes of Tuesday's game ticked away, chants of "un-de-feat-ed" rained down on the Lady Bears from the swarm of fans on hand. They knew they were seeing history, the likes of which might never be repeated.

And no one can say Baylor played an easy schedule to achieve their monumental feat. They played Notre Dame, Tennessee and Stanford twice. Texas A&M three times, and also took on the likes of Connecticut, St. John's and Nebraska over the course of the season. Each of those teams was ranked in the final Associated Press poll, and three of them made the Final Four as #1 seeds.

All season long the Lady Bears were clearly the most dominant team in the nation. Only 5 of their 40 games were decided by single digits, and none of those came in the NCAA tournament, where they beat opponents by an average of 20.8 points.

Baylor was led by star post player Brittney Griner, who had 26 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks Tuesday en route to being named the Final Four's MVP. While coach Kim Mulkey said Griner didn't need a championship to validate her place as one of the best - if not the best - to ever play the women's game, it sure helped.

"It's sad when people feel you have to validate your talent by winning a championship," Mulkey said. "To me, Brittney is one of the best all-time regardless. But I'm so glad she got a ring."

Now the question is, are the Lady Bears the greatest women's team ever? While their 40-0 run was certainly historic, it remains to be seen where history will place them among the all-time greats. I'm sure many will point to the UConn teams that had multiple All-Americans as the best, but this Baylor squad certainly has a claim, especially with the way they whipped Notre Dame in the final.

So greatest ever? As in most cases, it's up for debate. However, there's no debating who the best team in women's college basketball was this season.

40-0 says it all.

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