The women’s NCAA tournament has reached the Final Four with some huge match-ups set to determine who plays in Sunday’s championship game.
Friday’s women’s Final Four games and the title decider will all take place at American Airlines Arena in Dallas.
How to watch
The Final Four games will be shown on ESPN and are able to be streamed on fuboTV. The coverage will kickstart with LSU vs. Virginia Tech with Iowa vs. South Carolina to follow.
Clash of the titans
Despite the upsets throughout March Madness, two of the pre-tournament favorites are set to clash when the No. 2-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes face the defending champions and No. 1-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks.
The game will pit two stars of women’s college hoops directly against each other with the newly-crowned Naismith women’s player of the year, Caitlin Clark facing last year’s recipient and last year’s Naismith women’s defensive player of the year, Aliyah Boston.
Both players have been an inspirational force for their respective teams throughout the month of March and will be looking to lead them one step further with a Final Four win.
The Gamecocks have reached the Final Four of the Big Dance without showing any signs of vulnerability – with their smallest winning margin still in the double digits: 11 points.
South Carolina eased past Norfolk State in the first round with a 72-40 win, Dawn Staley’s side then beat South Florida 76-45 before beating UCLA 59-43, and Maryland 86-75.
Along the way, Boston has chipped in two double-doubles – including a brilliant 22-point and 10-rebound performance in South Carolina’s Elite Eight win.
As well as their star player, the Gamecocks have been helped by Zia Cooke’s scoring throughout the tournament. The guard is averaging 15.1 PPG for the year, shooting 40.0% from the field.
South Carolina also boasts an incredible unbeaten streak heading into the latter stages of the tournament.
After its Elite Eight win, South Carolina improved to 36-0 this season and extended its win streak to 42 games in a row, dating back to last year’s national championship season.
Speaking on her team’s success, head coach Staley praised her players’ attitudes.
The Naismith Coach of the Year, for the second year running, said: “They’ve created habits in which they just get the job done. They don’t ask about how long is practice, they don’t ask what drills are on the practice cards. They just say, ‘Okay, this is what we have to do, let’s get it done.’”
However, the unbeaten run won’t phase Clark and the Hawkeyes.
Iowa has scored for fun throughout the tournament and will look to continue its offensive onslaught in the Final Four.
Led by the irrepressible Clark, the Hawkeyes have scored an incredible 353 points throughout their four postseason games and will be a stern test for the Gamecocks’ resolute defense.
Star guard Clark has contributed 120 of these points, as well as piling up 44 assists for her teammates.
Clark’s 40-point triple-double – the first in NCAA tournament history by either a man or woman – led the Hawkeyes to the Final Four and attracted fans from around the globe.
Speaking to ESPN pre-tournament, four-time NBA champion Steph Curry heaped praise on the junior.
“We know everything kind of centers around her,” explained the NBA’s record three-point scorer. “But she does a great job of scoring at a high level but also being a playmaker and distributor.”
The Warriors star, who knows a thing or two about shooting, added: “No shot is a bad shot when you can shoot it as well as she can.”
Alongside Clark, Monika Czinano is another key player for the Hawkeyes. The forward is averaging 17.2 points, shooting an incredible 67.9% from the floor and also averages 6.6 boards a game.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the match, both Boston and Clark seem well aware of the hype surrounding the match-up.
“It’s really exciting. Just like you said, everybody has been talking about this matchup for a really long time,” said Boston. “I think it’s just a great game for women’s basketball. I know there’s going to be a lot of people in the crowd, a lot of people watching the game. Just super excited to be in that environment.”
Clark concurred with her Final Four opponent, adding: “I think people need to realize how many tremendous players there are in our game, how many tremendous coaches there are in our game.”
This Final Four match-up will be seen as a straight shootout between Clark and Boston, but the likes of Czinano and Cooke could prove to be decisive for their respective outfits in the clash.
LSU Tigers vs Virginia Tech Hokies
In the other Final Four match-up, the No. 3-seeded LSU Tigers will take on the No. 1-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies.
Virginia Tech has had a relatively straightforward route to the Final Four with wins against Chattanooga, South Dakota State, Tennessee and Ohio State – with their smallest winning margin being nine points.
Led by Georgia Amoore’s threat on offense and Elizabeth Kitley’s impact on both ends of the floor, the Hokies represent a serious threat to any challenger.
Amoore averaged 16.3 PPG on the season but has turned it up a notch for March Madness. The Aussie hooper has scored 20+ in all of Tech’s games in the NCAA tournament – including a brilliant 29-point showing in the Sweet 16 against Tennessee.
“It is so huge. I can’t even speak right now, I can’t believe it,” Amoore told the ESPN broadcast on what it meant to advance to the first Final Four in program history.
“Ohio State is such an incredible team and that game was just phenomenal and I’m just so happy for us and the program.”
Amoore and teammates will be squaring up against the LSU Tigers in the Final Four.
The Tigers had to survive a scare against the Utah Utes in the Sweet 16, finding themselves down one with just 10 seconds on the clock before winning 66-63, but comfortably won in the Elite Eight.
Led by star sophomore Angel Reese, the No. 3 seeds have impressed in March, with Reese making everybody take note of her performances.
The 6-foot-3-inch forward has racked up an incredible 17.25 rebounds-per-game in the NCAA tournament – including 24 against the Michigan Wolverines in the second-round.
With a double-double in every game so far, Reese has proved to be a serious offensive threat and managed to notch 34 points and 15 rebounds in the first-round win against Hawaii.
After the Tigers’ Elite Eight game, head coach Kim Mulkey said: “We don’t have to win a championship to see how much they love us. I think they’re going, ‘What are we doing in year two. Are you kidding me?’
“The greatest thing right now for me is we’ve got two SEC teams in the Final Four. Write that story. Two.”