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NCAAW March Madness: South Carolina Can Make History

It hasn’t always been easy for South Carolina but the Gamecocks head into the program’s fourth consecutive Final Four needing two wins to become the 10th women’s NCAA Division I team to finish a season undefeated.

Despite losing the players who started 182 of the 185 games a season ago, the Gamecocks are overwhelming favorites to win the NCAA women’s tournament. The NCAAW predictions have South Carolina listed at -200 odds to win the national title.

NCAAW March Madness: South Carolina Can Make History
Kamilla Cardoso #10, Sania Feagin #20, and Tessa Johnson #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks | Eakin Howard/Getty Images/AFP

South Carolina will face North Carolina State in the first of Friday’s two national semifinals, followed by the Iowa-UConn showdown. The winners meet in Sunday’s title game. The Final Four is being played at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.

The college basketball betting lines list South Carolina as 12-point favorites against North Carolina State.

When looking at our odds of winning Women’s March Madness, South Carolina is priced at -200 in the odds of winning the NCAAW title. Iowa is next at +300 followed by UConn at +750 and North Carolina State is at +1400 in the championship odds.

New Stars Emerge for No. 1 Seed

With the departure of the entire starting lineup, there were opportunities for the newcomers to step into key roles for South Carolina as Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, Brea Bea, and Victaria Saxton started every game last season. Kierra Fletcher started 34 of 37 games. Raven Johnson is the only returning player for the Gamecocks who started games a season ago.

Right on cue, freshman Tessa Johnson led South Carolina with 15 points in the Elite Eight win over Oregon State. She is averaging 11 points over the last three games. Classmate MiLaysia Fulwiley had 37 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and four blocked shots in the first two games in the NCAA Tournament. She has been a little quiet in the last two contests with 14 points and four rebounds against Indiana and Oregon State.

Sophomores Chloe Kitts and Ashlyn Watkins and redshirt sophomore Raven Johnson will also play key roles in the Final Four.

Kamilla Cardoso, who came off the bench in all 68 games in her first two seasons after spending her freshman season at Syracuse, is averaging 14 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocked shots.

Bree Hall, one of the two Ohio natives on the roster for South Carolina, has more than doubled her 3-point total from a season ago.

Oregon transfer Te-Hina Paopao has set a career-high with 82 3-pointers, giving the Gamecocks another perimeter scoring threat.

 

A Look at the March Madness Road

After cruising past No. 16 seed Presbyterian and No. 8 seed North Carolina, the Gamecocks were tested by Indiana, the No. 4 seed, before winning 79-75. Listed by the NCAAW spread as a 17½-point favorite, the key play for the Gamecocks was a 3-pointer by Raven Johnson.


South Carolina was also tested in the regional final against Oregon State before emerging with the 70-58 win. Once again, the Gamecocks failed to cover as 15½-point favorites.

Now comes a matchup with North Carolina State after the Wolfpack upset top-seeded Texas in the Portland 4 regional final.

North Carolina State leads the series with South Carolina 20-12. However, since Dawn Staley took over as the head coach for the Gamecocks, South Carolina has won four of the last six meetings.

The teams haven’t met in March since 2008, when North Carolina State won 72-69. The most recent meeting was on Nov. 9, 2021, when the Gamecocks won 66-57.

With a win, South Carolina would either get a chance for redemption after losing to Iowa in the 2023 Final Four or meet up with UConn in a rematch of the 2022 national title game. UConn and South Carolina also met in the regular season, with the Gamecocks winning 83-65 in February.

A Look at the Numbers

Despite losing five starters, including three taken in the first round of the 2023 WNBA Draft, South Carolina is shooting better from the field than last season’s team.

The Gamecocks are taking and making more 3-pointers. A season ago, South Carolina took 14 3-pointers per game and shot 31% on 3-pointers. The Gamecocks take 16.7 3-pointers and are connecting on 39.4% of those shots.

The field-goal percentage numbers are almost identical with South Carolina limiting opponents to 32% shooting and 26.7% on 3-pointers.

About the only area where the Gamecocks regressed is in rebounding margin. After being +20 a season ago, South Carolina is at +12 this season.

 

 

Questions of the Day

How many women's Division I women's basketball teams have gone through a season undefeated?


Texas went 34-0 during the 1985-86 season, UConn posted undefeated seasons in the 1994-95, 2001-02, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2013-14, and 2014-15 campaigns. The 1997-98 Tennessee and the 2011-12 Baylor teams also went undefeated.

What is the best finish for South Carolina in the women’s Division I basketball tournament?


South Carolina won the national championship in the 2016-17 and 2021-22 seasons.

 

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