2024 NCAAW Tournament: Elite Eight roundup


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The Elite Eight had several matchups the basketball world anticipated, and the games did not disappoint.

We now have the Final Four set with South Carolina, Iowa, UConn and NC State heading to Cleveland.

Before we prepare for the Final Four matchups, let’s look back at some of the best moments from the Elite Eight:

Caitlin Clark is good at basketball

Sometimes, the obvious answer is the correct one. We can talk schemes, matchups and what happened last season, but at the end of the day, Caitlin Clark was far and away the best player on the floor in the national championship game rematch between No. 1-seed Iowa and No. 3-seed LSU. And that’s why Iowa beat the defending champs 94-87 and cut down the nets.

Yes, Angel Reese’s injury dramatically hurt LSU’s chances, but with Clark hitting nine 3-pointers, scoring 41 points and LSU unable to execute an entry pass, I don’t think a fully healthy Reese changes the result. It was a tremendous tournament and title defense by the Lady Tigers, but now Clark and the Hawkeyes will have a chance to win it all.

Paige Buckets

Just a few years ago, Paige Bueckers committing to UConn had the basketball world groaning about the Huskies extending their dominance. But with major injuries to Bueckers and the college basketball landscape changing, UConn found themselves on the outside looking in at other elite programs. That ended on Monday night, when No. 3-seed UConn defeated No. 1-seed USC 80-73 to punch their ticket to the Final Four.

It was the second time this tournament that UConn beat a higher seed to advance—and they did so on the back of Bueckers’ dominance. She scored 28 points on 11-for-23 shooting. She also took on the responsibility of guarding JuJu Watkins when her teammates were in foul trouble. Bueckers will get much of the credit, but Aaliyah Edwards also was pivotal in the victory. She scored 24 points and grabbed six rebounds, giving the Huskies an inside presence that USC could not match.

For the Trojans, a season of growth and historic success ended in tears as Watkins and company fell just short of their goal. The freshman superstar undoubtedly will improve, and USC will be a contender again next season.

South Carolina is No. 1

The Queen of Queens, No. 1-seed South Carolina has yet to lose and made relatively quick work of No. 3-seed Oregon State, beating them 70-58 on Sunday. The Gamecocks blew the game open in the second half, outscoring the Beavers 21-13 in the third quarter.

South Carolina had a balanced attack with three different players in double figures. They shot poorly, going 33 percent from the field, but dominated the glass, outrebounding Oregon State 51-37. Kamilla Cardoso was a big reason South Carolina won the battle of the boards. She grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, and following the big win, she made her big announcement, declaring for the 2024 WNBA Draft on Monday.

Cardoso has at least one more collegiate game left, and if South Carolina has their way, it’ll be two more games before she goes pro, as the Gamecocks attempt to win the program’s third national title.

NC State plays Cinderella

Two top seeds are left and two No. 3-seeds remain, so there’s not really an underdog story in this year’s tourney. However, if you’re looking for one, NC State is your team. They don’t have a player getting national attention like the other top teams left, but make no mistake: the Wolfpack are here for a reason. Aziaha James has led her team in scoring in the tournament and came out with a monster game versus No. 1-seed Texas, scoring a game-high 27 points to beat the Longhorns 76-66.

Not many had NC State going this far, but beating them will not be an easy task.

Closing thoughts

We’ve been saying the women’s game has been growing for several years now, and it has started to feel like an echo chamber, saying the same thing over and over around people who already agree.

On Monday, I saw something I’d never seen before: women’s basketball dominated social media to the point where nothing else was being discussed. Everyone’s social media experience is different, but mine is mainly basketball, and despite covering both men’s and women’s games, my timeline is usually about the men’s game, whether a game is even happening or not. On Monday, the Elite Eight matchups were all that mattered. It’s all anyone was discussing, and people who I’ve never seen talk about LSU, USC, UConn or Iowa were suddenly giving play-by-play tweets and scorching hot takes.

Overall, it was wonderful to see, and instead of having to beg everyone to watch, the party was underway the moment the games began. More of this is undoubtedly in the future, as the game was never the issue: it was the coverage and access to the viewers. Make it easy to watch, and they will arrive in droves. The moment is finally here and, in that sense, everyone won on Monday.

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