Who Will Take it All? Women’s Final Four Review

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Alexis Black, Contributor

Following a thrilling weekend of action in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Final Four will tip off tonight.

Minneapolis is hosting three 1-seeded teams. After a memorable double-overtime win against NC State, No. 2 seed UConn are now in the national semifinals along with South Carolina, Stanford, and Louisville.

The Huskies have sealed their place in the Final Four for the 14th consecutive season. On Monday, the Louisville Cardinals reached their first Final Four since 2018 by winning a close game against the Michigan Wolverines. The defending national champion Stanford Cardinals beat the Texas Longhorns by nine points on Sunday, while South Carolina took care of Creighton, making it their second consecutive trip to the Final Four. 

Despite the intensity of the matchups, it is impossible to predict the winner of this tournament.

Stanford’s Cameron Brink leads the team in scoring, rebounding, and defense and is the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.  With Brink in their corner, Anna Wilson and Lexie Hull can be more aggressive defensively, and defense has been the key to a 23-game winning streak after some early-season disappointments. Stanford is in great shape to win a second consecutive title.

Sophomore guard Paige Bueckers leads the Huskies. Bueckers returned to form with 27 points against NC State after missing 19 games with a tibial plateau fracture and torn meniscus. She is the driving force for UConn.

In contrast to last season when the Huskies were favorites to advance to the championship game, UConn is considered an underdog this season. Will their tenacity be enough to win their first national championship since 2016?

Considering that UConn will be playing in their 14th straight Final Four, Stanford will be defending its title, and South Carolina is the season-long favorite, most attention will likely be focused elsewhere heading into the Final Four. However, this doesn’t mean that the Cardinals can’t come out on top this Friday.

Just as it has all season, the defense will be the driving force for their success. On Monday, Michigan appeared helpless against Louisville’s defense in the Wichita Regional final. During the final 6:40 of the game, Michigan continually waited for the shot clock to run down and only managed to score one point.

The South Carolina Gamecocks are making their second consecutive Final Four appearance and fourth under coach Dawn Staley.  The Gamecocks have averaged 69.3 points, 1.6 points below their season average, in their four March Madness games. 

National player of the year Aliyah Boston makes a big impact on both sides of the ball for South Carolina when she gets impactful touches on offense and defense. The Gamecocks’ chances of capturing the championship will depend on how Destanni Henderson, Zia Cooke, Brea Beal, and Victaria Saxton exploit the defensive focus on Boston. 

On Friday, the Final Four tips with South Carolina playing Louisville (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) and Stanford matching up against UConn (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). 

Winners of the Final Four matchups will compete for the National Championship game on Sunday, April 3rd.