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Smallwood: Just give the trophy to UConn already

IS THERE ANY practical need to hold the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament this year?

Couldn't we just save everybody the trips to subregionals and regional finals? And who wants to spend April Fools' weekend in Dallas anyway?

It's a little less than a month before "Selection Monday" for the 2017 NCAA women's tournament, but it's already been confirmed that 63 of 64 teams won't matter.

It would be easier to just ship the national championship trophy to the University of Connecticut to reside with the other 11 already in Storrs.

On Monday, the No. 1 ranked Huskies improved to 25-0 on the season by beating sixth-ranked South Carolina, 66-55, in what some called a difficult challenge.

Overall, it was the 100th straight victory for UConn – a record streak that spans over three seasons and three NCAA titles.

The streak is 10 more games than the second-longest winning streak in NCAA history – which was 90 by the Huskies.

When Connecticut beats whoever shows up for the national championship game on April 2 at American Airlines Arena, it will mark the Huskies' fifth straight NCAA title and sixth undefeated season.

How can I be so sure that will happen?

Well, the Huskies already have beaten everyone else who is worth a darn this season.

South Carolina was the ninth Top 25 team the Huskies have defeated, including teams currently ranked No. 2 (Maryland), No. 4 (Florida State and Baylor), No. 7 (Notre Dame), No. 8 (Texas) and No. 12 (Ohio State).

If anyone believes No. 3 Mississippi State, No. 9 Washington or No. 10 Stanford can take down Connecticut, I'd like to hear the argument.

UConn has made nine straight Final Fours, with six NCAA titles in that time. Mississippi State, whose loss was to South Carolina, has never advanced past the Sweet 16.

This was supposed to be a down year for Connecticut after it lost three players who were the top three picks in the 2016 WNBA Draft, including four-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player and three-time consensus National Player of the Year Breanna Stewart.

The only games the Huskies have not won by double-digits were the season opener at Florida State and at Maryland.

The 100 straight wins are simply a testament to the juggernaut that head coach Geno Auriemma has built at UConn.

By comparison, in the 11 seasons of UConn basketball played before Auriemma took over in 1985-86, the Huskies won a total of 92 games.