SBJ/February 20-26, 2017/Colleges

Team to star in six-episode HBO series

A sellout crowd cheers UConn’s 100th consecutive victory on Feb. 13.
Photo by: STEPHEN SLADE / UCONN
A production team from IMG’s original content division has been covering the record-setting UConn women’s basketball team all season, capturing every important step on the march to 100 straight wins.

With a license to go behind the scenes, the production unit is shooting the Huskies’ practices, locker rooms, bus rides and exclusive player and coach interviews for a coming six-episode reality series — “UConn Huskies: The March to Madness” — that will appear on HBO. The opening episode debuts March 1 with a one-hour show, in which UConn’s pursuit of the 100-game winning streak will be featured.

The following five 30-minute shows spread through the rest of March are designed to take viewers through the NCAA Tournament in weekly “Hard Knocks” fashion. So it’s safe to say that IMG and HBO are pulling against any first-round upsets. UConn, winners of 11 national championships, will be a prohibitive favorite in the tournament.

“The streak is there, but you can’t let it overwhelm the whole first show,” said IMG’s Mike Antinoro, one of the executive producers on the project. “We’re also trying to set up for another championship run.”

HBO Sports and IMG co-produced a similar series last year that focused on the Gonzaga men’s team, just as they’re co-producing this one. Antinoro is curious to see how viewership for a reality series on women’s basketball will compare to men’s.

“That’s the question,” he said. “Will people give it a chance? If they tune in, I think they’ll gain a much greater appreciation for what this team has done and how they’ve done it.”

— Michael Smith


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