Reseeding the women’s Final Four: South Carolina or Iowa at No. 1?

The Paige Bueckers vs. JuJu Watkins showdown lived as much as the hype. The LSU-Iowa rematch exceeded it. South Carolina held on to remain undefeated. NC State pulled one other upset.

Now the Closing 4 is about with storylines aplenty.

Caitlin Clark might be making an attempt so as to add to her already-mighty legacy by making an attempt to deliver Iowa its first nationwide title after falling only one recreation brief a season in the past.

After lacking all of final season, Bueckers is again within the Closing 4 for the third time, making an attempt to complete the job she wasn’t capable of in 2021 and 2022. UConn hasn’t received the title since 2016.

South Carolina would not have a star on the extent of Clark or Bueckers. The Gamecocks are extra of a collective — and there may not be a greater one amongst of sports activities. After taking an unblemished report into the Closing 4 a 12 months in the past, solely to see all of it finish to Clark and the Hawkeyes within the nationwide semifinals, South Carolina might be taking one other run to finish the proper season.

NC State was the workforce that wasn’t imagined to be right here, however the Wolfpack might need had the best journey. They simply beat a No. 1 and No. 2 seed by double digits to achieve this system’s second Closing 4.

The subsequent few days could have loads of examination of those tales and lots of extra, however right here is your first take a look at the Closing 4.



Undefeated South Carolina advances to Closing 4

Tessa Johnson scores 15 factors, Kamilla Cardoso provides 12 and the Gamecocks advance to the Closing 4 for the fourth straight time with a 70-58 win over Oregon State.

No. 1 seeds

South Carolina Gamecocks
Unique seed: No. 1 total (Area 1 in Albany)
NCAA match outcomes: Defeated 16-seed Presbyterian 91-39; defeated 8-seed North Carolina 88-41; defeated 4-seed Indiana 79-75; defeated 3-seed Oregon State 70-58

The Gamecocks are nonetheless No. 1 total regardless of the tense moments they’d in each regional video games. Undefeated is undefeated. Since their 29-point win over Notre Dame within the season opener in Paris, they’ve been thought-about the nation’s finest and lived as much as that each flip — the shut name with Tennessee within the SEC match and the blown results in Indiana and Oregon State in Albany however. Coach Daybreak Staley and South Carolina stay the favourite to win their third nationwide title.

South Carolina by no means trailed in opposition to the Hoosiers or Beavers. However issues concerning the Gamecocks’ capability to shut reemerged when a 22-point lead over Indiana shrunk to 2 within the fourth quarter and a 14-point lead dwindled to 4 within the closing interval in opposition to Oregon State. In each cases, South Carolina made a giant play — a 3-pointer by Raven Johnson in opposition to the Hoosiers and a three-point play by freshman Tessa Johnson in opposition to the Beavers — to stop both recreation from getting any nearer and propel South Carolina to wins. Staley’s workforce has now proven a capability to overwhelm opponents and make a key play in crunch time. And the Gamecocks do not must depend on one particular person to do it. They’ve had 4 totally different main scorers in every match recreation and have had 9 gamers rating in every of the previous three video games.

Up subsequent: 3-seed NC State (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Iowa Hawkeyes
Unique seed: No. 1 (Area 2 in Albany)
NCAA match outcomes: Defeated Holy Cross 91-65; defeated West Virginia 64-54; defeated 5-seed Colorado 89-68; defeated 3-seed LSU 94-87

Solely an undefeated workforce retains the Hawkeyes from the highest of the listing. Clark and the Hawkeyes have been that good in beating Colorado and LSU within the regionals. Clark averaged 30 factors within the two video games, together with a 41-point efficiency in opposition to the Tigers in Monday’s rematch of final 12 months’s nationwide championship recreation.

Iowa’s 91.5 factors per recreation in Albany got here in opposition to a pair of prime 20-rated defenses. Clark’s 9 3-pointers tied the report for probably the most in an NCAA match recreation, however alongside the best way she additionally turned the all-time match chief in assists. Her 12 in opposition to the Tigers helped Kate Martin (21 factors Monday vs. 13.1 PPG on the season) and Sydney Affolter (16 factors vs. 8.3 PPG on the season) rating nicely above their season averages.

Not surprisingly, offense carries Iowa. However with Clark main the cost, the Hawkeyes aren’t only a good offense; they’re particular. They lead the nation in factors per play, factors per scoring try, 2-point discipline purpose proportion, efficient discipline purpose proportion and assists per recreation. Most of which means the Hawkeyes aren’t simply prolific. They’re environment friendly.

Iowa did get beat up on the boards by LSU (54-36), however Clark’s 3-point taking pictures (9-for-20 in opposition to the Tigers) can offset that. South Carolina is the one workforce left in Iowa’s doable path that rebounds at an elite stage — and the Hawkeyes navigated the Gamecocks’ measurement in final 12 months’s nationwide semifinals.

Some credit score ought to go to Lisa Bluder and her changes at halftime. The Hawkeyes have been plus-19 within the third quarter through the regionals.

Up subsequent: 3-seed UConn (Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET ESPN)



UConn reaches report twenty third Closing 4 behind Bueckers’ 28-point night time

Paige Bueckers scores 28 factors to go together with 10 rebounds and 6 assists as UConn tops USC to achieve its twenty third Closing 4.

UConn Huskies
Unique seed: No. 3 (Area 3 in Portland)
NCAA match outcomes: Defeated 14-seed Jackson State 86-64; defeated 6-seed Syracuse 72-64; defeated 7-seed Duke 53-45; defeated 1-seed USC 80-73

Geno Auriemma constructed the UConn program from the bottom up. He has received 11 nationwide championships. He has had 5 unbeaten seasons. However this may be his biggest teaching job but. UConn misplaced 5 gamers to damage this season, and each considered one of them would have performed a considerable position on this workforce.

The Huskies have used a six-player rotation since early January. Three of these six are freshmen. Bueckers, Nika Muhl and Aaliyah Edwards all performed 40 minutes within the regional closing win in opposition to USC. Bueckers hasn’t left the court docket in three video games. Auriemma and his employees helped this workforce navigate by all of it to achieve this system’s twenty third Closing 4.

If Clark has been the No. 1 participant within the match, Bueckers is 1A. The sheer numbers aren’t as gaudy, however she has delivered in each manner. Her 28 factors, 10 rebounds and 6 assists got here whereas she was requested to protect Watkins for large components of the sport. Bueckers has three double-doubles in 4 match video games and has shot 51.1% from the sector.

In response to, she has been probably the most environment friendly participant per minute and has probably the most defensive wins shares because the begin of March Insanity. With what she’s doing at each ends of the court docket, at 5-foot-11 rebounding like a WNBA energy ahead, maybe Bueckers takes the crown as the very best all-around participant within the match.

Up subsequent: 1-seed Iowa (Sunday, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)



NC State rides sizzling first half to Closing 4 berth

Aziaha James’ 5 first-half 3s energy the Wolfpack to their second Closing 4 berth at school historical past.

NC State Wolfpack
Unique seed: No. 3 (Area 4 in Portland)
NCAA match outcomes: Defeated 14-seed Chattanooga 64-45; defeated 6-seed Tennessee 79-72; defeated 2-seed Stanford 77-67; defeated 1-seed Texas 76-66

Raleigh is now the centerpiece of the basketball universe with the Wolfpack’s inconceivable spot within the Closing 4, this system’s first since its lone look in 1998, and the Eleventh-seeded males’s workforce’s much more unlikely journey to the ultimate weekend of the season.

The ladies entered the NCAA match with a sputtering offense. The Wolfpack averaged 58.0 PPG within the three video games previous to March Insanity. Of their previous three video games within the NCAA match, the Wolfpack scored 77.3 PPG. That got here in opposition to the Thirty fourth- (Tennessee), eighth- (Stanford) and third-rated (Texas) defenses within the nation, in accordance with No matter change Wes Moore flipped has labored. Solely the subsequent opponent, South Carolina, has averaged extra from the second spherical by the regionals. The large purpose for the turnaround? Aziaha James. Her taking pictures (7-for-9 on 3-pointers) was the chief purpose for the upset of the Longhorns. She’s averaging 24.3 PPG within the NCAA match after producing 15.8 PPG through the season.

NC State is the third No. 3 seed or decrease to achieve the Closing 4 since 2017, becoming a member of LSU and Arizona. Sure, the Tigers received the title final 12 months as a 3-seed. However the Wolfpack’s run this 12 months has maybe been extra spectacular. They needed to beat the highest-seeded opponent doable in every spherical, topping No. 6 Tennessee, No. 2 Stanford and No. 1 Texas. LSU throughout final 12 months’s championship run beat No. 2 seed Utah and No. 9 seed Miami within the regionals, whereas Arizona confronted a No. 2 in Texas A&M and No. 4 Indiana on its option to the Closing 4.

Up subsequent: 1-seed South Carolina (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

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