South Carolina is in the running for a repeat; LSU and Ohio State struggle

South Carolina guard Zia Cooke, guard Raven Johnson and forward Aliyah Boston during a timeout against UConn in the second half of their women's college basketball game at XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, on Feb. 5, 2023. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

South Carolina guard Zia cooke, Raven Johnson, forward Aliyah and guard Aliyah Boston in a timeout during UConn’s second half of the women’s college basketball game at XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut on February 5, 2023. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Anyone in the know would have called No. 1 South Carolinahe favorite heading into a national championship game rematch With No. On Sunday afternoon, 5 UConn. Most did.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley didn’t, creating an odd juxtaposition of the favorites using an underdog mentality as the actual ones in the Huskies refused. And in reality, Staley wasn’t wrong. Before Sunday, the Gamecocks hadn’t defeated the Huskies on their own court. Doing so this time wouldn’t be easy, even given their undefeated record, sparkling trophy and dozens of UConn points dressed in sweats on their bench.

The Gamecocks were greeted in Connecticut by subzero temperatures, long lines of fans waiting for a tip at noon ET and then a roaring fireplace of Husky faithful in a packed-out XL Center. It was Sue Bird of the WNBA, who was present at the event. Napheesa Collier The stands.

They have a raucous background and a gritty environment. 81-77 win Staley was asked what she would describe the milestone.

“In the whole grand scheme of things, it’s really not important,” Staley said. “But for your psyche [it is]. When we’ve beat UConn in the regular season, great things happen in the postseason. This was our only opportunity for us to play and you’ve got to have some success. You’ve got to feel some success or else, you play them again [having] It was a loss, but it gives you hope that you can beat them. It was good for our players.”

They first met in 2007 at Storrs and UConn. 2 laughed South Carolina out with a 97 to 39 defeat. They won seven more games in a row, winning all of them with Gamecocks ranked except one. South Carolina’s No.1 win came in February 2020. 1 ranked team in February 2020. It was 70-52 ahead of No. 5 UConn. They were the overwhelming favorite to win the second NCAA title that season, even though the tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They won their next victory in November 2021 at Paradise Jam tournament. They were 73-57 and then went on to win their second championship in April with a 64-49 win over the Huskies.

“It’s completed when it comes to playing UConn and that’s because they’re the standard. They’re the standard of college women’s basketball,” Staley said.

South Carolina is not a Goliath. Not in an era of increased parity that has been fueled by skilled players, experienced coaches, and investment nationwide. The tight contest showed more than any other that the Gamecocks aren’t unbeatable. UConn can make a difference with just a few extra 3-pointers, or one more Huskies wearing a game jersey could change the outcome.

The Gamecocks had big games from bench players Raven Johnson and Kamilla Cardoso, a nod to the depth no other team boasts and arguably the reason they’re in line for a title. Not many teams can right now can upset them — underscored by then-No. 2 Stanford falling hours later to Washington — but that’s the madness of March. It’s not out of the realm of possibility they could.

It did reveal that South Carolina is still a favorite to win a second title, which could help cement its status. This was even more evident on Sunday. that the Gamecocks are the modern powerhouse in women’s college basketball. Given the state of the game’s competition, 11 trophies for Staley likely isn’t in the cards (she said so herself). But back-to-back championships aren’t common, either. Only UConn and USC have it. in the 40 times the NCAA has crowned Since 1982, a champion. The Huskies won all four titles during the season and were the last to do it again. Breanna Stewart This was the end of an era.

LSU on Sunday and Tennessee, on Feb. 23, pose the biggest threat to their undefeated record. They’ll also have to be on guard for the SEC tournament, where the Gamecocks were upset in the title game last season before tearing through the NCAA tournament schedule. It would be a huge feat to knock South Carolina from a No. The clear path to the Final Four is possible with South Carolina as the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

If they’re the No. If they are the No. 1 overall seed, which is very likely, the regional finals will be held in Greenville, South Carolina. If that advantage sounds familiar, that’s because it is. UConn has played most regional finals essentially at home, including last year’s nail-biting overtime thriller against NC State that drew ire from Wolfpack fans.

That’s the beauty of sitting at the top and being “the standard,” as South Carolina now knows.

Loser: LSU begins to struggle

Win is what matters most. Less optimistic is that LSU isn’t doing that winning well, struggling against unranked teams and those with far superior talent to the nonconference schedule it faced in November and December.

The Tigers defeated Tennessee to win. 76-68Angel Reese clearly was frustrated by the defense she was trying to break at home. This was in stark contrast to UConn which was ranked lower than Tigers. trouncing the Lady Vols five days earlier on the road.

To defeat Georgia, they had to use overtime. 82-77In a really ugly fourth quarter and overtime period, they lost. It somehow became worse on Sunday when they slid by Texas A&M, the team with one SEC win in 11 tries, in what was a 4-point game with less than two minutes to play. LSU won. 72-66, behind Reese’s 26 points and 22 rebounds.

Kim Mulkey, head coach, has been explained the noncon situation, but it doesn’t erase the fact that not playing top competition doesn’t prepare a team for top competition. It doesn’t make them better if they avoid elite offenses. Auriemma explained that on Sunday, after his team’s eighth game against a Top-25 team.

“If you don’t put yourself in a situation to play these guys, you’re always pretending that you’re ready. You’re not ready,” he said.

LSU (23-0-11-0 SEC), will travel to Columbia to face South Carolina (23-0-10-0 SEC) on Sunday. They are the remaining undefeated national teams and each have an Aliyah Boston and Reese contender for Player of the Year.

Winner: Clark and Czinano Law Firm

Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano are putting in the work for Iowa combining for 107 of the team’s 191 points over two games this week.

The first team scored 70 points. 96-82 win Maryland, which is ranked number one. It was 73% for the Hawkeyes’ offense. While the catch with Iowa is more players need to step up, when it’s working like it was against the Terps, it’s a moot point.

Clark had 42 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists in this win. Clark is the only Division I player with 40 points against a ranked opponent. per ESPN Stats and Information, and she’s done it twice. Czinano had 28 points, going 14-18 from the field and adding six rebounds.

Clark then followed it up in a third, commonplace triple-double. This was her ninth career double. 95-51 win On Sunday, it beat Penn State. It tied the mark for second in women’s basketball history set by Lamar’s Chastadie Barrs from 2015-19. Clark finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. She also had 14 assists.

Czinano scored 14 points and was 7-of-10. She also had four rebounds, an assist, and a steal in just 22 minutes. She’s hit 70% or more of her shots in seven of the last eight games.

Iowa (19-4 Big Ten, 11-1 Big Ten), has now won against Maryland (19-5-103), Ohio State (20-4-9-4) and Michigan (19-5-9-4) in its Big Ten schedule. They’re the Nos. They are among the top 3-5 league teams. The Hawkeyes have not lost against Illinois (18-6-8-5) but will be facing Indiana (22-1-12-1) on Thursday.

Monika Czinano is half of a dynamic Iowa duo, along with Caitlin Clark, driving the Hawkeyes this season. (G Fiume/Getty Images)

Monika Czinano makes up half of the dynamic Iowa duo driving the Hawkeyes in this season’s championship. (G Fiume/Getty Images)

Loser: You OK, Ohio State?

The sky was rising when Ohio State announced that Jacy Sheldon, its point guard, was available to play in the top-10 matchup against Maryland. Last season, the senior averaged 19.7 point, 4.2 assists, and 1.9 steals. She was named All-American honorable mention by the Associated Press, All-Big Ten first and All-Big Ten defensive teams. She injured her leg early and hadn’t played since Nov. 30.

As the Terps gained a lead of 19-7 in the first quarter, and then beat the Buckeyes 3 and 4 to win, that optimism quickly fell apart. 90-54. This was the largest margin of victory against a top-10 Maryland team in program history. The previous record was a 27 point win against Penn State, which was then ranked No. 7, in 1991.

“They played a great game, and we were really bad,” Ohio State Coach Kevin McGuff said, via the Washington Post. “That was to their credit. They coached better, played better — just everything was better about them today.”

After an undefeated start the schedule, the Buckeyes (19-4, 9-4 Big Ten), are struggling. They’ve lost four of the last five with the only win against Wisconsin (7-17, 2-10).

Cotie McMahon, a freshman forward, sat most of the first period in foul trouble. She finished with 6 points. The team committed 24 turnovers, and was decimated in paint points, 48-28. Maryland’s Diamond Miller had 29 points, while Abby Meyers scored 22.

There’s brief relief for Ohio State to bring Sheldon back into the fold and find its footing. The Buckeyes play Minnesota on Wednesday and then host Big Ten leader Indiana Monday. They lost 13 to the Hoosiers who were the top-ranked team two weeks ago.

Winner: Pac-12, We See You!

For a Husky victory, fans were wrongly looking at the country. UConn did not overthrow the nation’s top team. Washington Huskies Stanford, No. Stanford No. 2 team, 72-67.

Elle Ladine scored 21 to lead Washington (13-8 Pac-12, 5-7 Pac-12). Dalayah Daniels made two free throws with eight seconds remaining. It was the program’s first win over the Cardinal (22-3, 10-2) since 2016, a skid extending 11 games.

Stanford is tied with Utah for first placeyou know, the team picked to finish fifth) in the league standings. Colorado (hello eighth-place choice) is third at 18-5 overall, and 9-3 in league play.

Arizona (18-5 and 8-4) avoided an upset by outlasting USC. 81-75In two overtimes. Cate Reese had a career-high 33 point total and made the decisive free throws within the last 10 seconds. USC (17-6-7, 7-5), led with 21 points. It lasted for 50 minutes.

Arizona will host Stanford on Friday (22-3, 10-2).

Baylor guard Sarah Andrews celebrates at the end of a women's college basketball game against Iowa State on Feb. 4, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. Baylor won 76-70. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Sarah Andrews, Baylor’s guard, celebrates after the conclusion of a women’s college basketball match against Iowa State, February 4, 2023 in Ames, Iowa. Baylor won with 76 to 70. (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

Baylor is the winner

The Bears fell out of the AP Poll last month for only the second time in 16 years. However, they remain in contention for a NCAA Tournament run. The Bears were ranked Iowa State’s first home loss of the season. 76-70Sarah Andrews scored 21 points Saturday. Four Bears reached double figures, and Darianna Littlepage Buggs scored her fifth double-double in six matches with 13 points et 12 rebounds.

It was Baylor’s fourth Top-25 victory (16-6, 7-3 BIG 12) in this season. Three of the four winners were on the road in Big 12 (Oklahoma Kansas State, Iowa State). They’re a league-best 4-1 in conference road games.

Oklahoma hosts the Bears on Tuesday in Waco (Texas). Texas is currently at 9-2 in Big 12 play. Oklahoma, Baylor and Iowa State are each down three.

You must watch these games this week


Iowa (19-4, 11-1 Big Ten) at Indiana (22-1, 12-1), 6:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network — It’s a battle for the top spot in the league standings and Caitlin Clark is always on triple-double alert.

Stanford (22-3 Pac-12, 10-2 Pac-12), Arizona (18-5, 8:00), 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN — Stanford will need to rebound after its loss and Arizona, fourth in the standings, can climb up the Pac-12.


LSU at South Carolina (23-0-11-0 SEC), 2:05 p.m. ET on ESPN — The matchup of the final undefeated teams is finally here. LSU’s win makes them SEC favorites and legitimate contenders to the Final Four. Reese and Boston in the paint will be the focus.

What other things to keep an eye on this week?


Virginia Tech (18-4 ACC), 8-4 ACC), NC State (16-6 ACC), 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2


Oklahoma (18-4, 8-3 Big 12) at Baylor (16-6, 7-3 Big 12), 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+


Florida State (20-5 ACC), Miami (15-8 ACC), Miami (15-4 ACC), 6 p.m. ET on ACCNX


Illinois (18-6, 8-5 Big Ten), Maryland (19-5-10-3), 1 p.m. ET, BigTen+

Florida State (20-5 ACC, 9-3 ACC), at Virginia Tech (18-4 ACC), 2 p.m. ET on ACCN

Oregon (14-9 Pac-12, 5-7 Pac-12), UCLA (18-6, 7-5), 3. ET, Pac-12N

1. South Carolina (23-0

2. Indiana (22-1)

3. LSU (23-0).

4. UConn (21-3)

5. Iowa (19-4)

6. Stanford (22-3)

7. Utah (20-2)

8. Maryland (19-5)

9. Duke (20-3)

10. Notre Dame (18-4)

11. Virginia Tech (18-4)

12. Michigan (19-5)

13. Ohio State (20-4)

14. North Carolina (17-6).

15. Villanova (20-4)

16. Oklahoma (18-4)

17. Arizona (18-5)

18. UCLA (18-6)

19. Florida State (20-5)

20. Texas (18-6)

21. Iowa State (15-6)

22. NC State (16-6).

23. Gonzaga (22-3)

24. South Florida (22-4)

25. Colorado (18-5)

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