It’s hard to stay unblemished.
The post-Christmas slate has not been kind to undefeated teams, as several teams suffered their first losses after returning from a short holiday break. There are now just 25 teams that still have a chance at a perfect season. That’s 2.3 percent of the 1,105 teams in Divisions I, II, and III.
The percentage of Division I teams with a female head coach? Thankfully, that’s a much higher percentage, hovering near 60 percent for the past few seasons. This week’s stats roundup covers this season’s unbeaten teams and some recent perfect seasons and follows up on last week’s analysis of gender and WNBA head coaches.
The pursuit of perfection
Through games played on Thursday, January 3, there were 25 undefeated teams across Divisions I, II, and III:
Source: Her Hoop Stats
The WBCA Coaches’ Polls offer a mixed view of these 25 teams. Six are ranked in the top 3 in their division’s most recent top-25 poll, and every unbeaten team in Division II is ranked in the top 25. On the other hand, two Division I teams and five Division III teams with perfect records did not make their respective top 25 rankings.
Interestingly, none of last season’s national champions are among the remaining undefeated teams, though all have strong records to date. Notre Dame is 13-1 after a December loss to UConn, Central Missouri is 8-2, and Amherst (10-1) lost to Eastern Connecticut State in November to snap a 68-game winning streak.
Also not among the 25 unbeaten teams? Any of the teams with the most recent perfect seasons in their division. Amherst was the last to do it in Division III; its aforementioned winning streak dated back to March 19, 2016, giving the Mammoths two perfect seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18. In Division II, Ashland recorded the most recent perfect season in 2016-17. That season was part of a 73-game winning streak that spanned two calendar years, from March 2016 until last season’s championship game defeat to Central Missouri. Ashland won’t go undefeated this season after losing to Grand Valley State a month ago, but they are still a force to be reckoned with, sitting at 11-1 behind a blistering offense that leads the country in points per 100 possessions (121.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.61).
In Division I, the most recent team to post a perfect season, UConn, suffered its first loss to Baylor on Thursday. The Huskies’ last perfect season was in 2015-16, but they entered the last three postseasons chasing perfection (only to fall short in the Final Four the past two years). The Baylor loss ended UConn’s 126-game regular-season winning streak. The Huskies are now 12-1 this season behind senior All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier and a defense that ranks second in the country according to Her Hoop Stats.
(All statistics courtesy of Her Hoop Stats unless otherwise noted.)
There are consistently more female head coaches than male head coaches in women’s Division I basketball
Last week, I charted the percentage of female head coaches in the WNBA. In case you missed it, the last time the WNBA had more female head coaches than male head coaches was in 2010, and it’s only happened three times in the history of the league. In 2019, there will be five female and seven male head coaches.
(One quick methodological note that I didn’t mention last week: I only counted head coaches who were in place at the beginning of a season, not any interim head coaches who were appointed midseason. A full head coaching search in the offseason is very different than the hiring of an interim coach—who is usually one of the team’s assistants. I decided to count only those coaches whose teams presumably had time to conduct a full search process.)
This week, I charted the percentage of female head coaches in Division I women’s college basketball from 2007-08 through this season. Unlike the WNBA, women’s college basketball head coaches are majority-female this season and have been in every season for which I have data. In 2015-16, it wasn’t clear that that would still be the case today, as the percentage of female head coaches hit an eight-year low of 56.3 percent. But it’s increased in every season since, to 61.0 percent this year.
Sources: 2007-08 through 2017-18: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/ncaa-demographics-database; 2018-19: author’s calculations.
However, having mostly female head coaches is not the norm across all NCAA Division I sports today. A report by the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport found a majority of female head coaches in only 9 of 26 NCAA sports at the Division I level in 2017-18. Across all 26 sports, only two conferences—the Ivy League and the Northeast Conference—had a majority of female head coaches.