To no one’s surprise, the South Carolina women’s basketball team is headed back to the Final Four, that after an 86-75 win over Maryland in the final of the Greenville 1 region Monday evening. It’s the third straight Final Four appearance by the Gamecocks, dominating the landscape of women’s college basketball.
South Carolina began the NCAA Tournament as the top overall seed, looking the part while navigating through the bracket. They are now a perfect 36-0 on the season, with a win streak now at 42 games. Wagering in NCAA women’s basketball championship odds has South Carolina an overwhelming (-350) favorite to win the title.
If the Gamecocks win twice more, they’d be just the 10th team in women’s college basketball history to finish undefeated. Head coach Dawn Staley has cemented her place as one of the best coaches in the sport, taking the team to five Final Fours since 2015.
With two victories, Staley then earns a third national title as coach. Entering the Final Four in Dallas as heavy favorites, the coach has acknowledged that the Gamecocks know they’re now the hunted.
South Carolina capped off an incredible run with a title-game win over Connecticut to end 2022, then won a rematch earlier this season.
Aliyah Boston has been a big reason the Gamecocks are atop the pedestal.
Boston is arguably the best player in women’s college basketball, continuing to take over games when necessary. The Final Four goes Friday/Sunday (March 31th/April 2nd).
Dominant Against Maryland
While the win over the Maryland Terrapins saw South Carolina trailing early, it ended as a pretty dominant and comfortable win by the Gamecocks. Boston’s 22 points and 10 rebounds led the way, while Zia Cooke added 18 points.
It was a rematch of a regular-season game that the Gamecocks won by 25 points, 81-56. Maryland was without Diamond Miller in that game.
Maryland took a 21-15 lead after the first quarter of play, but South Carolina had a 38-30 advantage going into the locker room. It was once again the size of South Carolina that proved to be the difference, outrebounding the Terps by 22 boards.
Maryland was able to keep the game close by hitting half of its shots, but weren’t able to close the gap in the final quarter.
Now It’s Clark
The Iowa Hawkeyes and superstar Caitlin Clark are the Gamecocks’ next opponent.
All she did in the final of the Seattle 4 region against Louisville was score 40 points en route to a triple-double. It’s the first 40-point triple-double (men’s or women’s) in tourney history.
While no one in the country has been able to stop Clark, South Carolina is going to throw size at her and the rest of the smaller Hawkeyes, an 11½-point underdog (total of 149½), according to NCAA women’s basketball odds.
The Other Semi…
The other side of the bracket also draws plenty of attention, with the LSU Tigers taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Virginia Tech was No. 1 seed in the Seattle 3 region, while LSU was a No. 3 (Greenville 2 region).
LSU is a huge story, back in the Final Four in just the second season under coach Kim Mulkey. It’s a turnaround that happened much faster than expected, Mulkey with plenty of experience (see Baylor) winning games in the Final Four.
Virginia Tech is in the Final Four for the first time ever after beating Ohio St. by 10 points Monday evening. The Hokies won the ACC this season, giving the conference its seventh Final Four team in the past decade.