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THE IT GIRL’S GUIDE TO SPORTS: Everything you need to know about the Women’s March Madness Final Four

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

It has been quite the year for women’s college basketball. As star players become legends, people are tuning into March Madness now more than ever.

Four teams remain in the NCAA tournament: South Carolina, NC State, Iowa and UConn. On April 5, No. 1 South Carolina will battle No. 3 NC State to kick off the women’s Final Four. Later that night, Iowa will face UConn to determine which team will get a shot at the championship. The current women’s bracket standings can be found here.

USC vs. NC State 
April 5, 7:00 pm

No. 1 South Carolina

Led by coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina’s women’s basketball team has been on fire in recent years, winning the national title in 2017 and 2022. After an undefeated season, the Gamecocks entered the tournament with extreme confidence. So far, no team has been able to put an end to their undefeated run.

This season, junior center and projected top-4 WNBA draft pick Kamilla Cardoso has been a leader for the team. Cardoso has maintained high points and helped establish the Gamecocks as a defensive powerhouse. Ashlyn Watkins has stepped up this year helping the team with both points and rebounds.

Freshman guard MiLaysia Fulwiley has also been a great addition to the team as the SEC tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Her performance in the second round of the tournament contributed to South Carolina’s monstrous win over UNC. While Fulwiley hasn’t played much in the games since then, Staley could look to her star freshman for some clutch buckets in the critical Final Four match.

South Carolina, unlike several other high-level teams, isn’t represented by one player. Each of the starters hold a similar status in talent and popularity. This works to their advantage as opponents can’t target one player, but rather have to focus evenly on every player on the court. 

The team hasn’t lost a single game this season and will continue to fight for this record as it comes to a close. Last year, South Carolina was upset by Iowa in the Final Four, which ended their then-undefeated run. Now, Carolina is hungry to reach the championship with a chance at a potential rematch with Iowa.

No. 3 NC State

NC State’s win over No. 1 Texas in the Elite Eight sent the Wolfpack to their second-ever Final Four, the first being in 1998. Head coach Wes Moore has helped build the NC State program into the talented force it is today.

As a third seed, no higher-ranked team has stood in the Wolfpack’s way this tournament. The team won the last two games comfortably with a ten-point lead, which is no easy feat against a one-seed like Texas.

The Wolfpack thrives with its fast-paced, guard-driven play that has been proven  difficult to defend.

Junior guard Aziaha James averaged 17 points per game in the regular season but jumped to 24 points per game in the NCAA tournament. James scored 29 against top WNBA prospect and Niasmith Defensive Player of the Year Cameron Brink and Stanford, and 27 points against Texas, helping to secure the upset win. 

Junior guard Saniya Rivers has been a significant player in the Wolfpack’s recent success. As the starting point guard, her energetic play and brilliant transition basketball have pushed the team to victory. Rivers has the most to prove in this upcoming game against South Carolina; she started her college career with the Gamecocks and transferred to NC State two years ago. The Wolfpack has given her the opportunity to excel on the court and make a name for herself and this Final Four match-up will be her chance to show South Carolina what they’re missing.

NC State possesses the potential to end South Carolina’s winning run. The Wolfpack is looking to make it to the national championship for the first time in program history. Their perimeter shooting could be enough to shut down Cardoso and squad, although it won’t come easy. After losing to Iowa in the Final Four last year, the Gamecocks are eager to advance past this round and return to the championship.

Iowa vs. UConn
April 5, 9:30 pm

No. 1 Iowa

Iowa maintained a solid record in the regular season under the direction of head coach Lisa Bluder. The team is led by senior guard Caitlin Clark, who averaged 32 points in the regular season. Clark has become a stand-out star. Her talent and impressive range sell out stadiums all over the country and contribute to an increase in the viewership of women’s college basketball. This season, Clark became the NCAA’s men’s and women’s all-time leading scorer, passing LSU’s Pete Maravich and cementing herself as a basketball legend.

Clark is assisted by a team of 3-point shooters and defensive weapons. Kate Martin is the secondary scorer to Clark and provides great assistance with defense and rebounds. Clark looks to junior guard Sydney Affolter to run the floor and score crucial transition buckets. Gabbie Marshall helps most with defense, but is also a significant 3-point shooter, while forward Hannah Stuelke is a game-changer down low.

Last year, Iowa had an incredible NCAA tournament run, beating South Carolina in the Final Four. They didn’t quite clinch the win as they fell to LSU in the championship game.

Ready to avenge their loss in last year’s tournament, Iowa made it to the Elite Eight where they had a highly anticipated rematch with LSU. The Hawkeyes came out on top, beating LSU 94-87 to advance to the Final Four. This matchup broke ratings records becoming the most-watched women’s college basketball game ever with over 12 million viewers.

In Clark’s senior season, the Iowa squad has one last shot to get the NCAA championship ring before the exit of their beloved star. The team is going to have to step up to help Clark reach the one achievement she’s missing in her legendary college career.

No. 3 UConn

UConn women’s basketball is no stranger to NCAA wins. The Huskies are coached by Geno Auriemma in his 39th season with the team. Auriemma led the team to 11 NCAA championships and 22 Final Fours among many other accomplishments.

UConn’s stand-out player is the redshirt junior guard Paige Bueckers who returned to the Huskies this season after sitting out almost all of the last two seasons from a torn ACL injury. Bueckers has already announced her decision to play another year at UConn and is projected to be the first or second pick in the 2025 WNBA draft. She averaged 22 points in the regular season and hasn’t disappointed as a scorer and a playmaker in the current tournament. Aliyah Edwards has also stuck out in UConn’s battle to the championship. As the secondary scorer to Bueckers, Edwards is a force in the paint and a menace on defense.

Due to injuries, there are only eight available players on UConn’s roster. The five starters average over 30 minutes per game, with only three substitutes on the bench. While this can increase the harm of being in foul trouble, it can be a positive testament to the tightness of the team and how well the girls work together. Since UConn makes limited substitutions, the players are used to playing with the same people which can positively impact communication and overall team play.

Basketball fans everywhere are sure to tune in to this star-studded match between Iowa and UConn. Each team has a well-known star of their own who will have to live up to their hype if they want a chance at the championship.

Women’s basketball is finally getting more of the recognition it deserves. 

If you aren’t watching, then what are you doing?

The winners of each game will face off in the Women’s NCAA National Championship game on April 7 (ABC).

Hi! I'm a freshman double majoring in Journalism and Cinema and Media Studies! I LOVE movies and plan to focus on film criticism and film-related articled. Additionally, I love to perform (act, dance, sing), play basketball, ice skate, and travel around the world.