Final Four time in the NCAA Women’s Tournament
The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and Final Four are ready to take center stage Friday, less than a week after obliterating an all-time record.
Last Sunday’s Elite Eight matchup between the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes and No. 5 Louisville Cardinals was the most-watched game at that stage of the bracket in tournament history. The broadcast peaked at 2.7 million viewers, which was higher than any NBA game broadcast on ESPN this year.
Caitlin Clark’s Iowa defeated Louisville 97-83 and now faces an undefeated No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks squad for a spot in the national title game. The other half of the bracket features the red-hot No. 1 Virginia Tech Hokies taking on the No. 2 LSU Tigers and first-team All-American Angel Reese.
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Iowa
Iowa didn’t just beat Louisville in the Elite Eight, it sent them home thanks to one of the best playoff performances in the history of college basketball. Clark put up an absurd 41 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds to steer her team into the Final Four for the second time in program history. She is the first player – woman or man – to record a 40-point triple-double in the NCAA Tournament.
number one in the nation in scoring and field goal percentage
The Hawkeyes are more than a one-player team, however. They are number one in the nation in scoring and field goal percentage and are ninth in scoring differential. However, they must get past a South Carolina team that not only won the national title last year but one that has not lost in 42 games.
The Gamecocks are one of two teams to put multiple players on the All-American team lists, with Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke receiving the honors. USC plays suffocating defense and also scores the seventh-most points per game, giving them the best scoring differential in Division-I. They will have to decide if they want to try to slow down the red-hot Clark or take the rest of her team out of the game.
No. 1 Virginia Tech vs. No. 2 LSU
The Hokies danced their way into the Final Four for the first time in school history thanks to an 84-74 win over the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes. They have one of the best big-small pairings in America with Elizabeth Kitley and Georgia Amoore, who scored a combined 34.5 points per game. Kitley also averages 10.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, while Amoore leads them with five assists.
a stat line that almost looks fake: 23.2 points and 15.7 rebounds
Their matchup with LSU will be defined by how they handle the overwhelming presence of forward Angel Reese. The 6-foot-3 Baltimore, Maryland native averages a stat line that almost looks fake: 23.2 points and 15.7 rebounds.
LSU finished the year with the second-best scoring differential and only two losses. They are not flat-out one-dimensional but do rely heavily on Reese to power them to victories. They also don’t take or make anywhere near as many threes as the Hokies, which could become a factor if VT can nail some early shots.
Games will be played Friday evening, one day before the men’s Final Four.