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NCAAW March Madness: Can South Carolina Make History?

South Carolina is six wins away from a piece of history. Despite losing the players who started 182 of the 185 games a season ago, the Gamecocks head into the NCAA women’s tournament with a chance to become the 10th Division I women’s team to finish as undefeated national champions. The NCAAW predictions have South Carolina listed as the favorite to win the national title.

South Carolina will face Presbyterian in the first round of the March Madness bracket on Friday at 2 p.m. at home. With a win, South Carolina would play its final home game against either Michigan State or North Carolina in the second round on Sunday.

NCAAW March Madness: Can South Carolina Make History?
South Carolina Gamecocks Players - Eakin Howard/Getty Images/AFP

South Carolina is the No. 1 seed in the Albany 1 regional. The winner of that bracket would face the winner of the Portland 4 region in the national semifinals.

When looking at our odds of winning Women’s March Madness, South Carolina is priced at -140 in the odds of winning the national title.

 

New Stars Emerge for No. 1 Seed

A look back at many of the teams that went undefeated will show squads led by returning starters and, in some cases, All-Americans. That is not the case for this South Carolina team as Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, Brea Bea, and Victaria Saxton started every game last season whhile Kierra Fletcher started 34 of 37 games. Raven Johnson is the only returning player for the Gamecocks who started games a season ago.

Head coach Dawn Staley had some outstanding players returning and added some talented newcomers but this is still perhaps her best coaching job.

 

 

 

 

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, 9.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.6 blocked shots. She will miss the first-round matchup due to her role in an altercation against LSU in the SEC tournament title game. It was an event that dominated the NCAAW news cycle.

Bree Hall has doubled her 3-point total from a season ago. Ashlyn Watkins went from putting up 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds as a freshman to 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds. Sophomore Chloe Kitts has also made a huge jump from her freshman to sophomore seasons with four double-doubles this season.

Oregon transfer Te-Hina Paopao is approaching her career high in 3-pointers, giving the Gamecocks another perimeter scoring threat.

Freshman Milaysia Fulwiley looks like the next great South Carolina player. She is averaging 11.9 points despite starting just three games this season.

She has scored in double digits in three of the six games against ranked teams and had 24 points in the SEC title game against LSU.

 

A Look At the March Madness Road

A South Carolina-North Carolina matchup could be waiting in the second round if the Tar Heels can get by Michigan State. The Tar Heels have won six of the last meetings against South Carolina even though many of those matchups are from many years ago.

Indiana and Oklahoma are the No. 4 and 5 seeds in the region and could be the opponent in the Sweet 16 with Notre Dame and Oregon State the most likely opponents in the regional final.

Texas, Stanford, and North Carolina State are the top three seeds in the Portland 4 Region and all could provide a challenge to South Carolina if that happens to be the national semifinal matchup. The BetUS sportsbook has Texas and Stanford priced at +1600 in the odds to win the national title.

Caitlin Clark’s Iowa, UCLA and defending national champion LSU are all in Albany Regional 2 while the other USC (Southern California), Ohio State and UConn are the top contenders in Portland Regional 3.

South Carolina has already played and beaten Notre Dame, North Carolina and UConn in addition to two wins against LSU.

 

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 16.3 3-pointers and are connecting on 39.7% 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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