Caitlin Clark and Iowa aren't the only reason to watch the upcoming women's NCAA Tournament

Caitlin Clark and Iowa aren't the only reason to watch the upcoming women's NCAA Tournament

If March Madness follows the script, Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes will suffer a heartbreaking loss before the Final Four — just like Zion Williamson and Duke in 2019. But unlike that year on the men’s side that gave us a lackluster national semifinal that featured the likes of Virginia, Texas Tech, Michigan State and Auburn, the women’s game is loaded with talent, storylines, hall of fame coaches and enough star power to overcome Middle America’s new favorite team getting upset.

If Clark can lead Iowa to a national championship in her final season in college basketball, Disney will have a movie made about her life before 2024 comes to an end. It would be one of the greatest runs we’ve seen in sports, given the number of awards she’s won, the records she’s set, the viewers she’s brought in, and potentially vanquishing last season’s loss in the national championship game.

But that’s if it happens. Because in March, anytime we have players or teams set up for a grand finale, they rarely happen. Just ask Coach K and 2022 Duke. Besides, Iowa needs to get Molly Davis’ knee healthy.

This, however, is where the strength of the women’s game has been this season. It isn’t all about Clark, the greatest scorer in Division I basketball history, and the Hawkeyes. For instance, this season Stanford’s legendary women’s head coach, Tara VanDerveer, broke Mike Krzyzewski’s record for most wins, and she has a star in Cameron Brink. After that, UConn’s legendary women’s head coach, Geno Auriemma, also passed Krzyzewski. UConn even has Paige Bueckers coming back for another year, so watch out for them in this tournament, and next year’s.

And then there’s South Carolina. I don’t think Clark or anybody else wants to see them on their side of the bracket. Dawn Staley’s squad is the only men’s or women’s team to finish the regular season undefeated. Mind you, she’s doing this with an entirely new starting lineup from the team that made it to the Final Four last season. Since the 2019-2020 season, South Carolina has lost nine games — that’s it.

Now, let’s get to LSU — the reigning champs. While Iowa and South Carolina have been the two most-talked about teams, LSU might be the most fascinating. Angel Reese is the second-most popular player in the sport, and she even disappeared for a few games this season — and we still don’t know why. Any team that features Reese and Hailey Van Lith, and is coached by Kim Mulkey, is worth your time and attention.

And last, but not least, the woman who might be the best player in college hoops has a chance to have a coming out party once the tournament starts, as USC freshman JuJu Watkins is the real deal. With the Trojans being ranked in the Top 5, they have all the ingredients to make a deep run. Since they play on the West Coast and in the dying Pac-12, most of their games come on late or are on lesser networks. But with Watkins’ ability to score 30 in her sleep, or 40 and 50 if need be, she’s exactly what a team needs to make it to the Final Four — an unguardable bucket-getter. Think Maya Moore, but better at a younger age.

Conference tournaments have already started, the madness is officially here. Please educate yourself on all the great things and players that have made this season such a transcendent one in the women’s game. It’s going to be a great tournament, no matter who cuts down the nets.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.