One or the other
Is it better to streak or slide into tournament?
Updated: Wednesday March 14, 2001 4:11 AM
If a team is hot heading into the NCAA tournament, it has "Big Mo" on its side and is "peaking at the right time."
But a loss before the start of the Big Dance is seen as a "wake-up call" or a "shot in the arm."
Fans usually gravitate toward the cliché that fits their favorite teams at the time, but statistics show it doesn't matter much one way or the other.
Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been 16 national champions. Eight of those schools entered the tournament with a victory; eight entered with a loss.
None of the schools had lost more than two consecutive games to end the season, however, so a prolonged losing streak is definitely something to avoid.
The 1995 UCLA Bruins won 13 in a row before winning six more in the tournament. The 1996 Kentucky Wildcats had their 27-game winning streak snapped by Mississippi State in the SEC tournament title game but regrouped to win the national championship.
If Big Mo resides anywhere right now, it is in Long Island, N.Y., with the Hofstra Pride. The 13th seed in the East Region holds the nation's longest winning streak at 18 games.
Nobody is expecting Hofstra to reach the Final Four or even the Sweet 16, but history shows that their streak bodes well for its chances of winning a game. Since 1988, only four of the teams that entered the tournament with the nation's longest winning streak failed to win a game.
-- By Jacob Luft, CNNSI.com