Most of us sports fans can vividly recall some major upsets in sports during our lifetime. It happens in nearly every sport. There are certain outcomes that make you want to shake your head and wonder why a certain team or individual lost when they were the far superior opponent. The biggest sports upset in my lifetime occurred when I was very young and the United States beat Russia in the 1980 Winter Olympics hockey competition. The Russians were one of the best teams ever assembled at any level and the United States team consisted of a bunch of amateurs. Watching replays of that game still sends shivers up my spine. I never thought I would see a bigger upset in any sporting event, but Friday night’s college women’s game between Mississippi State and UConn might rank right up there as the biggest upset ever in sports history.
UConn entered the game on a 111 game winning streak, and of those 111 games, only 3 were decided by by 10 points or fewer. The team was a unstoppable machine and it seemed only inevitable that they would win this years women’s college championship. Who was going to stop them? Maybe some WNBA team could have been granted special exemption and entered the tournament! Furthermore, their opponent last night, Mississippi State lost to UConn last year by 60 points in the tournament. I know teams change from year to year and UConn lost some of their better players but they still were a undefeated powerful team who just reloaded with a core of new great players. Perhaps Mississippi could come within 40 points this time around? But they went even further and ended up with one of the most improbable victories in the history of sports.
Watching women’s college basketball is not my idea of entertainment on a Friday night but I just had to watch because I had this feeling deep inside that something special was going to happen. And sure enough it did. It was one of the most dramatic college basketball games that I have ever seen. UConn was behind most of the game and you just had the feeling that they would go on a nice little run and put this game away from a seemingly inferior opponent. It never happened.
You have to wonder about the burden that long streak placed on Uconn. Were they really battle tested to withstand that type of game? I think the streak put an enormous amount of pressure on that team. They seemed to play in a very tentative manner. You could almost see it coming even before the game. A team with that kind of winning streak has a huge target on their back in every game. Eventually the other team is going to hit that target and stop the streak. That is what happened to Uconn. A combination of a highly motivated opponent and tentative poor play spelled doom for the Huskies. Sometimes it is almost an advantage to be underdogs in critical games instead of being heavily favorite.
I have to admit that I was cheering for Uconn during the game. You hate to see a streak like that end in a tournament game. If it happened during the regular season, then they still have some goal ahead of them to conquer. Now they are going home empty handed and the players on that team, especially the seniors must be just devastated.
That game just shows that. just like in life, there are no guarantees. Wouldn’t sports be boring if teams were guaranteed championships. Upsets and the emotions behind those games are what keeps me and many other sports fanatics watching. Friday night’s game is a game that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I will probably remember exactly what happened some 20 years from now. Fans were blessed with a game for the ages Friday night. A shot at the buzzer to stop a 111 game winning streak? It doesn’t get much better than that!