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Women’s Final Four: Everything to know about South Carolina-Iowa, LSU-Virginia Tech

It’s been a wild match thus far. Down went Indiana and Stanford, two No. 1 seeds projected to make a Final Four run. The Hoosiers and Cardinal misplaced on back-to-back nights within the second spherical of the match, surprising the basketball world and busting brackets.

Then went UConn – the 11-time nationwide championship winners missed the Elite Eight for the primary time since 2005 after they had been upset by Ohio State within the Sweet 16. The loss snapped the Huskies’ 14-year Final Four streak, too, capping a turbulent season full of too many accidents and unexpected adversity.

“The drawback with streaks is the longer they go, you are nearer to an ending than you might be to the start of it,” coach Geno Auriemma stated after the sport. “It’s not if it is going to occur, it is only a matter of time when it is going to occur. And it was going to occur sooner fairly than later.”

Even with just a few favorites out, the scene is ready for fireworks this weekend.

The magical Caitlin Clark will lead Iowa to its first Final Four since 1993; South Carolina will strive to grow to be simply the fourth program ever to repeat as champions; Kim Mulkey hopes to win a title along with her second program in simply her second yr at LSU (she received three at Baylor); and Virginia Tech plans to trigger some ruckus in this system’s first journey to the Final Four.

The motion begins Friday with Virginia Tech-LSU at 7 p.m. ET and South Carolina-Iowa at 9 p.m. ET, with the ultimate set for Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s what you want to know.

No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Iowa

Well, what else is there to say however that is the matchup we have all been ready for. It’s the 2 National Player of the Year frontrunners Caitlin Clark vs. Aliyah Boston. It’s the Hawkeyes, who’ve been on a revenge tour since being upset within the second spherical of final yr’s NCAA Tournament going up in opposition to the No. 1 general seed Gamecocks, who’re trying to defend their title as undefeated nationwide champions.

In an epic Elite Eight efficiency on Sunday night time, Clark made historical past by turning into the one participant – girls’s or males’s – to record a 40-point triple-double in an NCAA tournament game. Her stat line: 41 factors, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. She accounted for greater than 70% of her crew’s manufacturing – and that is regardless of her 9 turnovers.

Clark was electrical, as at all times, and had the group wrapped round her finger. She elevated her teammates, wowed a nationwide TV viewers along with her zippy passes in transition, and as coach Lisa Bluder stated afterward, “The higher the opponent, nearly the higher she performs.”

How will that look in opposition to probably the most imposing protection within the nation? For as environment friendly and enjoyable as Iowa has been offensively, South Carolina is lauded as one of many best defenses ever. The Hawkeyes led the nation in scoring offense (87.6 factors per recreation), field-goal proportion (51.1%) and assists (21.1) this yr; whereas the Gamecocks held opponents to the fewest factors (50.4), lowest field-goal proportion (31.2%) and blocks per recreation (9.0).

Boston is the reigning participant of the yr and is predicted to be the primary choose within the upcoming WNBA Draft. She is probably not placing up the identical numbers she did a yr in the past, however that is as a result of her function has modified. She does not have to do the whole lot by herself – Zia Cooke is the crew’s main scorer, Brea Beal is a defensive menace, and the South Carolina bench averages 33.0 factors per recreation. However, Boston is coming off an evening the place she had 22 factors, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in an 86-75 win over Maryland in Monday’s Elite Eight.

The Gamecocks are at present driving a 42-game profitable streak that dates again to final yr’s SEC Tournament. They’ve been to the final three Final Fours and know how to seize the second. Can the Hawkeyes match them?

No. 1 Virginia Tech vs. 3 LSU

No matter what you consider Kim Mulkey or her fabulous jackets lined in sparkles and feathers, what she’s been in a position to do in solely her second yr at LSU is exceptional. After spending greater than 20 years at Baylor, the place she led the Bears to three nationwide championships, Mulkey determined to begin over at LSU. Now in her second season, she has the Tigers within the Final Four.

LSU had 9 new gamers for Mulkey to work with this season. After the Tigers’ 54-42 win over Miami within the Elite Eight, Mulkey defined how she was in a position to shortly deliver this group collectively to make a Final Four run.

“I keep in mind once I took these transfers, numerous my teaching mates stated, ‘Man, you bought a locker room stuffed with personalities. How are you going to deal with that?'” Mulkey stated. “And I stated, ‘Do you know me very properly? Bring them on.’

“What they want is hard love. What they want is to be held accountable. What they want is an actual girl. Boy, have they’d a exceptional yr.”

Added Maryland switch Angel Reese, who earned her thirty second double-double within the win: “We labored arduous and we did the whole lot that Coach stated and now take a look at us.”

LSU faces a Virginia Tech crew that is taking its first journey to the Final Four. The Hokies knocked off Ohio State, 84-74, on Monday after the Buckeyes upset UConn within the Sweet 16 on Saturday.

Virginia Tech entered the NCAA Tournament as one of the crucial harmful groups within the area and quietly made its means by means of the Seattle 3 area, knocking off groups like South Dakota State, Tennessee and Ohio State.

The Hokies are led by the pleasant duo of Elizabeth Kitley and Georgia Amoore, who’re greatest mates and lived collectively throughout the COVID pandemic. Kitley is a two-time ACC Player of the Year, a NPOY finalist and this season averaged 18.6 factors, 10.5 rebounds and a couple of.3 blocks per recreation. She went off for 25 factors, 13 rebounds and three blocks in opposition to the Buckeyes. Amoore, in the meantime, is on a six-game streak of scoring 20 factors or extra and had 24 on Monday.

Both LSU and Virginia Tech are stable defensive groups with underrated stars, all of whom shall be on show Friday night time in Dallas.

Laken Litman covers faculty soccer, faculty basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She beforehand wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the creator of “Strong Like a Woman,” revealed in spring 2022 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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Caitlin Clark Caitlin Clark
Angel Reese Angel Reese
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