At 10:30 Saturday morning, the Huskies and the Mississippi State Bulldogs will tip it off for the very first time ever in women's hoops. In fact, UCONN has only faced a Mississippi women's basketball program just once in their storied history. Southern Miss provided the opposition in 1994 in a contest that UCONN won 78-64.
A lot has changed in the two decades since that non-conference affair. The Huskies have won ten National Championships including three in a row. Over the course of the last three seasons, Geno Auriemma has lead the Huskies to a 112-1 record. The one loss came on the road at Stanford in November of 2014 and that was by just two points in overtime.
Yes, the Huskies are a dynasty. Followers of college athletics are seeing history made each time these ladies take the court. Some have suggested that UCONN is the most dominant team in all of sports. It would be hard to argue otherwise.
UCONN is defeating their opponents by just over 40 points per game. While the American Athletic Conference may not have the name recognition some other leagues do, it belongs to the Huskies. Since leaving the Big East for the AAC, no conference foe has earned a victory against the ladies from Storrs, Connecticut.
While some other programs get fat on a weak non-conference slate, the Huskies seek out their future NCAA opponents in hopes of scheduling them. Over the course of the 2015-2016 season, UCONN has knocked off ACC champion Notre Dame (91-81), Big East champion Depaul (86-70), Big 10 champion Maryland (83-73) Southern Conference champion Tennessee-Chattanooga (79-31) and SEC champion South Carolina (66-54).
To reach the third round match-up with Mississippi State, the Huskies shelled Atlantic 10 champ Duquesne (97-51) on Monday night.
The Southeastern Conference has been considered one of the top women's basketball leagues in the country, though the SEC has lost a bit of its' luster in the post Pat Summit era. UCONN has only lost 15 games all time to SEC opponents. Tennessee owns nine of those victories including a three game wining streak in the head to head series.
Remove Tennessee from the equation and the only other SEC team to boast more than one win against the Huskies all time is Vanderbilt who has two in six tries.
Mississippi State will look to pull the shocker and earn their first win over the iconic Huskies, while most see the Lady Bulldogs as a speed bump on the way to a fourth consecutive net cutting for the Huskies program. As a competitor, one would think Coach Vic Schaefer would like to try on UCONN for size if for no other reason to compare his program against the very best this country has to offer in the way of women's basketball.
Schaefer should have some resources to draw from. The Bulldogs and Huskies played five common opponents on the campaign, LSU, South Carolina, South Florida, SMU and Tennessee-Chattanooga. While UCONN was obviously undefeated against those foes, Mississippi State earned victories against four common opponents and fell to South Carolina twice.
The Bulldogs have been tested and have responded with a school record 28 wins and the program's second appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. The test on Saturday will prove to be the toughest of the season and perhaps the toughest of all time for the Lady Bulldogs.
There have been a lot of firsts for the Lady Bulldogs this year. The program earned its' first win over Tennessee earlier this year and then proved in the SEC tourney that the win was no fluke by beating the Lady Vols again. Mississippi State hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament for the first time and won both games. When Schaefer began building a program in Starkville, these are the moments he hoped to create. The biggest of all moments to date comes this Saturday.