Geno Auriemma: College hoops needs to get used to more upsets

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma thinks that upsets in women’s college basketball will continue to happen, and they’ll be good for the sport’s growth.

Through three weeks of the season, six preseason top-10 teams suffered losses. Tennessee has four of them while Texas suffered two. Texas has been ranked No. 3, Tennessee No. 5 and Louisville, who has also suffered losses, No. 7. Combined, the teams have nine losses – including to five teams who were unranked at that time.

UConn is set to play an unranked Duke on Friday, and the leader of the No. 3-ranked team thinks that upsets should be commonplace.

“You’re going to see that happen more and more,” Auriemma said. “Hell, that’s what everybody’s saying we need, right? It happens all the time in men’s basketball.

“What we don’t need is when that does happen, to go, ‘Ah, that team’s not any good. How could they lose to that team?’ Well, damn, you can’t have it both ways. Either the favorites win all the time and there’s no parity, or the other guys win and you go, ‘Let’s celebrate those guys that won and don’t bitch about the guys that lost.’ That’s what we’re all striving for.”

The Phil Knight Invitational, which began Thursday, features four undefeated teams going up against one another. Noth No. 8 UNC and No. 5 Iowa State survived their tests against fellow undefeated teams.

“I don’t know if there’s as many great teams as there used to be back in the day, but there’s certainly more good teams that are capable of beating the other good teams,” Auriemma said. “And they come from places that you wouldn’t expect in years past.”

An extra year of eligibility has impacted the level of talent on teams, as well as a more active transfer portal.

“I think there’s a combination of things,” he said. “Coaching has gotten a whole hell of a lot better, and players are more confident. There’s no conceding anything or [thinking] ‘We’ve never beaten them.’ Creighton proved it last year [making the NCAA Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed.] It doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to be good, man.”