UConn’s road losing streak to ranked teams is men’s college basketball’s weirdest skid

Men’s college basketball hasn’t seen a program win back-to-back national championships since Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and the Florida Gators accomplished the task in 2006-2007. While several teams have come closer over the ensuing years, it feels like these UConn Huskies might have the strongest chance of any team since to do it.

UConn entered the week as the unanimous No. 1 team in the AP Poll for the first time all season. The Huskies earned one of the most impressive wins of the season in their previous game by drubbing No. 4 Marquette, 81-53, at home in Storrs. UConn was 24-2, with losses only to a top-5 Kansas team and to Seton Hall on the road in their Big East opener.

The Huskies had lost some major talent since their dominant run to the 2023 national title as a No. 5 seed last year. Point guard Andre Jackson Jr. now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, sharpshooter Jordan Hawkins was a lottery pick for the New Orleans Pelicans, and star center Adama Sanogo is playing for the Chicago Bulls’ G League team. Still, this year’s Huskies have two possible lottery picks of their own in big man Donovan Clingan and freshman guard Stephon Castle, they added a stud transfer in shooter Cam Spencer, and holdover Tristen Newton has blossomed into one of the better guards in America. These Huskies have a top-five offense, a top-25 defense, and a way of dictating the terms of play against any opponent.

There is just about one thing UConn can’t do right now, and that’s beat a good team on the road.

No. 15 Creigton crushed UConn, 85-66, in Omaha on Tuesday night. This game was a blowout from the start. The Bluejays made it ran from three-point range by hitting 14-of-28 shots from behind the arc. The ball movement was pristine (18 assists to 10 for UConn), and did well to avoid fouls and turnovers. It’s the first time Creighton has ever beaten the No. 1 team in the polls, and the fans reacted appropriately.

It’s the 21st straight road loss for UConn against a ranked team

From the AP:

The Huskies have lost 21 in a row on the road against Top 25 opponents. They haven’t beaten a ranked team as a visitor since Jan. 16, 2014 at Memphis.

Going 10 years without beating a ranked team on the road is a stunning stat for an elite program like UConn. It’s even more wild that the Huskies have won two national championships since this dubious streak started. Thankfully, you don’t have to play at Creighton in late March.

Both of UConn’s national title runs over that span were shocking. The 2014 team entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 7 seed, and rode the hot shot-making of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright to a title. Last season’s team was an all-around juggernaut, but a big losing streak in the middle of the season damaged the Huskies’ resume and hid their dominance.

No one will believe UConn is vulnerable this season until they are finally knocked out in the NCAA tournament. Until then, their fans aren’t too disappointed by this loss.

UConn will still have one more chance to beat a ranked team on the road this season: a date at Marquette on March 6. Given the way the Huskies just manhandled Marquette, this might be the ultimate test of the streak’s power.

About a month before the NCAA tournament, UConn feels like it’s going to be the most popular national championship pick in office pools across the country. The Huskies have it all. But if this season in men’s college hoops has shown us anything, it’s that with so many experience scattered throughout the country because of Covid years and NIL deals, any team could get knocked off on the wrong night. Even the Huskies.

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