For the first time since 1995, the women’s Final Four will not have UConn, Tennessee or Stanford, but there will be no lack of star power in Dallas this weekend.
The No. 1 overall seed South Carolina Gamecocks are looking to win back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and they’re riding a 42-game wining streak into the Lone Star State. However, to reach the championship game they will have to get through Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes — the best offensive team in the country.
Meanwhile, Kim Mulkey and the LSU Tigers will look to continue making school history as they take on the Virginia Tech Hokies, another team that is also having a program-best season.
Date: Friday, March 31 | Time: 7 p.m., 9 p.m.
Location: Dallas, Texas — American Airlines Center
TV: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Here is a closer look at this year’s Final Four teams:
The Gamecocks picked up their 36th win of the season — a new school record — with their Elite Eight win against a very talented Maryland team. In that game, Aliyah Boston picked up her 82nd career double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, along with five assists and two blocks. She is the defending national Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the year, and she is as good ever, even if her stats have gone down, on paper, due to her team’s depth.
Zia Cooke is team’s top scorer with 15.1 points per game. Boston averages 13.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Junior center Kamilla Cardoso has been improving every year and now contributes with 9.7 potions and 8.4 boards per contest. One of their top defenders is Brea Beal, who also reminded everyone she can score with a season-high 16 points in the Elite Eight.
Dawn Staley’s squad is looking to defend its 2022 national championship, and there is no doubt they’ve been the team to beat. South Carolina is riding a 42-game winning streak dating back to last year. The Gamecocks have a suffocating defense and have the top scoring margin in the nation at 29.5 points per game.
Iowa has the top offense in the nation, averaging 87.6 points per game, led by star player Caitlin Clark. The junior is currently the most impactful offensive player in women’s college basketball, as she averages 27.3 points per game but also facilitates scoring for her teammates by leading the country with 8.6 assists per contest. During the Hawkeyes’ 97-83 Elite Eight win over Louisville, she was responsible for 72% of her team’s offense while getting her name in the record books. Clark registered 41 points,10 rebounds and 12 assists — her fifth triple-double this season, 11th of her career, and the first ever 40-point triple-double in NCAA Tournament (men’s or women’s) history.
Clark consistently makes tough baskets, but even when opponents slow her down, Iowa doesn’t lack scorers. Monika Czinano averages 17.2 points per game while shooting 68% from the field. McKenna Warnock contributes with 11.1 pointe per game. All three of Iowa’s double-digit scorers also average at least six rebounds per game. This will be the Hawkeyes first Final Four since 1993.
Kim Mulkey is leading the Tigers to what could be LSU’s best season in school history. The Tigers have 31 wins, the most for the program since the 2007-08 season, which was also the last time the Tigers were in the Final Four.
The Tigers have one of the top offenses in the nation, but they had an ugly offensive game against Miami in their Elite Eight win, shooting under 32% from the field. Alexis Morris, a fifth-year guard, lifted her team in that game with 21 points so she could play her last college game in her home state of Texas. She is a talented player, but the star has been Maryland transfer Angel Reese. The sophomore forward, a top national Player of the Year candidate, has led LSU this season with 23.2 points and 15.7 rebounds per game. She registered her 32nd double-double of the season against Miami — which became a new single-season SEC record.
Even though the job is not done yet, this has been a historic season for Virginia Tech already. After winning their first ever ACC Tournament, the Hokies got a pleasant surprise on Selection Sunday with their highest seeding ever. They’ve lived up to the hype and reached their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1993. They went on to outplay a tough Tennessee team to reach their first ever Elite Eight.
Ohio State put up a good offensive battle, but Virginia Tech came up on top to reach the Final Four behind Elizabeth Kitley’s 25 points and 12 rebounds — her 56th career double-double, most in program history — in the Elite Eight. She has been the team’s most consistent scorer this season, but the Hokies have a lot of other weapons. Georgia Amoore is the team’s second leading scorer, and she reminded everyone of how dangerous she is with 24 points against the Buckeyes. The Hokies have players who can score, but their defense is also a strength as they hold opponents to just 57.1 points per game.
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