Last year, when Stanford cut down the nets in San Antonio, the total margin of victory in their Final Four® and National Championship games was two points. The team’s 66-65 and 54-53 victories over South Carolina and Arizona could be a sign of what’s to come in this year’s Final Four in Minneapolis. All four teams—No. 1 seeds Louisville, South Carolina, and Stanford, along with No. 2 UConn—come into the Twin Cities with a legit chance to win the title. You can watch all the action on ESPN, check out our preview below the schedule to see how each team can come away as champs.
Women’s Final Four®
Friday, April 1
7:00 PM ET – #1 South Carolina vs. #1 Louisville – ESPN
9:30 PM ET – #1 Stanford vs. #2 UConn – ESPN
Sunday, April 3
8:00 PM ET – ESPN
The Gamecocks have been the best team throughout the entire season, led by likely Player of the Year candidate Aliyah Boston. This is the team’s fourth Final Four in the last seven years and they have all the tools to lift the title for the first time since 2017. As an elite defensive team, the only knock on Dawn Staley’s bunch is their consistency on offense. They have gotten the job done this tournament despite lackluster offensive performances, and finally broke out with an 80-point game, ending Creighton’s Cinderella run. Aliyah Boston is a force defensively, but if she gets it going on the other end and receives support from Destanni Henderson and Zia Cooke, watch out. All in all, if the shots are falling, and South Carolina plays any semblance of the defense they’re used to playing, they should avenge last year’s semi-final loss.
Despite being a No. 1 seed, Louisville has not received the same press as the other finalists. Perhaps that’s because Stanford is defending its title, South Carolina has been the best team all season long, and UConn is, well, UConn. Jeff Walz’s team follows a similar recipe to success as South Carolina: They are a solid defensive team (although not as strong as the Gamecocks) and will rely on the output of Hailey Van Lith, who has averaged 21-points per game in her last four outings. Louisville must force South Carolina’s supporting cast to beat them. If they can keep the ball out of Aliyah Boston’s hands while leaning on their reliable defense, they’ll be right there come winning time.
If there is a word to describe the defending champs, it would be ‘versatile.’ The Cardinal can win a game in a multitude of ways. They suffered 20—yes, 20!—turnovers in their Elite Eight® victory over Texas, yet pulled out the win due to their depth. They can score points all over the floor, whether it’s Lexie Hull and Haley Jones running the show in the back court, or Cameron Brink working down low. They also have grinders like Lacie Hull who can change a game without popping out in the box score. Stanford has met UConn in the semifinals and finals five times: In those five games, the Huskies are 4-1. If the Cardinal can take care of the basketball and keep Brink out of foul trouble, they will have a heck of a shot at going back-to-back and finally dethroning the Huskies.
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: The UConn Huskies are going to their 14th straight Final Four! This is a feat that may never be matched. This year has been anything from a typical UConn season, however. Geno Auriemma’s team has battled through injuries all year long. But after outlasting NC State a thrilling Elite Eight classic, you can’t help but wonder if No. 2-seeded UConn is destined for their first title since 2016 (an unacceptable drought for their program). The team’s up-and-down season turned when they decided to lock it down on defense. Paige Bueckers showed in overtime that she is as clutch as they come and Christyn Williams is as good of an iso player as there is in the tournament. Throw Azzi Fudd in the mix and UConn can be as lethal as anyone. If they can get Cameron Brink into foul trouble and be efficient on the offensive end, the Huskies can regain the mountain top.