Meet the women’s Final Four teams and their chances to win the national championship

Meet the women’s Final Four teams and their chances to win the national championship

In a women’s college basketball season that was hyped up from the start, four teams are left to battle it out for the 2024 national championship in Cleveland, Ohio.

In the first semifinal matchup No. 1 seed South Carolina will look to continue its winning streak and remain undefeated when taking on No. 3 seed NC State. The second game on Saturday night will be No. 1 Iowa facing off against No. 3 UConn — in what many will call the “Caitlin vs. Paige” battle.

So far, the level of talent and thrilling moments have not disappointed, and these games on Friday night should be no different.

Let’s break down each of the 2024 Final Four teams and their chances to take home the national title.

4. NC State

The Wolfpack are perhaps a team that not many people had in their bracket making it to the Final Four, but this squad has proved they should not be doubted. After defeating No. 2 seed Stanford in the Sweet 16, NC State beat No. 1-seeded Texas in the Elite Eight to advance to the semifinals. The Wolfpack have had an impressive tournament thanks to the amazing play of guards Aziaha James and Saniya Rivers. This backcourt duo looks dangerous and at times unstoppable if they can keep up the hot shooting. James has scored 19 points or more in every NCAA tournament game so far and went 7 for 9 from the three-point line in the game vs. Texas. The Wolfpack get help on the boards and in-the-paint scoring from grad transfer River Baldwin, who will face a tough test against South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso.

NC State enters Saturday’s game with a 31-6 record and finished second in the ACC standings behind Virginia Tech, despite being picked to finish 8th in the conference in preseason. “We had a little stretch, February — We lost a couple of road games, and I think everybody thought we were going to fall apart,” head coach Wes Moore said after their win over Texas. “And these players just kept working, stuck together. I mean, they’re such — the chemistry’s so good. They really, you know, pull for each other.”

Friday’s game also marks NC State’s first Final Four appearance since 1998. If the Wolfpack were on the other side of the bracket, maybe we could make a case for them making it to the national championship game. But getting through South Carolina first is a tough task.

3. UConn

When UConn started its season, many questioned if this team was equipped to make a big run in the postseason. The Huskies fell to 4-3 in the first week of December, falling to No. 17 in the AP top 25, the lowest ranking for the program in 30 years. The injury bug also plagued UConn this season, forcing them to play with just 8 players throughout the entire NCAA tournament. But one thing UConn does have going for them is the resurgence of redshirt junior Paige Bueckers, who missed all last season due to an ACL injury and has reminded fans why her coach Geno Auriemma refers to her as the best player in the country. Bueckers performance to get her team to the Final Four was stellar, posting 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists vs. USC.

Another weapon on this UConn team is senior forward Aaliyah Edwards, who announced she plans to enter the WNBA draft at the end of this season and is expected to be a first round pick. Edwards is an athletic, versatile presence in the paint for the Huskies and leads the team in rebounds.

The Huskies will be looking for their first national championship since 2016, but will need to get past Clark and her squad first. UConn did a decent job making things more difficult for freshman superstar JuJu Watkins, and it will be interesting to see the strategy and defensive scheme they bring in the semifinal matchup.

2. Iowa

With superstar Caitlin Clark leading their team all season, the Hawkeyes showed up to put in the ultimate team effort against LSU in the Elite Eight round, defeating the Tigers 94-87. Clark is a constant threat on the court for any opponent, but the key to Iowa securing the national title will be her supporting cast bringing the fire as well.

The Hawkeyes will look to Gabbie Marshall for her strong defense effort and don’t be surprised if you see her following around Bueckers the entire game. On Tuesday, head coach Lisa Bluder spoke highly of the fifth-year saying, “Gabbie Marshall, first of all, is our player that we put on the best perimeter defensive player every single game. Last night she played 40 minutes for us. She’s a trooper. She’ll go do whatever we ask her to do…She remembers her scout, her personnel, and she gets the job done that way.”

Sophomore Hannah Stuelke will have to show up to play against UConn’s Edwards. She, along with fellow teammate Addison O’Grady, were able to control an injured Angel Reese in the Elite Eight matchup and will have to bring a similar level of performance on Friday night. Guard Kate Martin will be relied on for scoring assistance in order for the Hawkeyes to really compete, especially with all eyes on Clark.

Clark is leaving the college basketball world to enter the WNBA draft and has left an impact on the game while etching her name in the record books. We know the competitor she is and the intensity she brings to the court. She wants to win more than anything — which gives Iowa a chance at completing her college career on a high note.


— Caitlin Clark (@CaitlinClark22) April 2, 2024

1. South Carolina

It’s hard not to call South Carolina the favorite at this point with an unblemished 36-0 record and an extremely talented roster. The Gamecocks have a lot of weapons on their team and always show up ready to play solid defense. Their Sweet 16 and Elite Eight round games proved to be a test for them, but South Carolina still managed to pull off the wins. In the Sweet 16 vs. Indiana, South Carolina had a 21-point lead with six minutes left in the third quarter and let the Hoosiers inch back to bring the game to a two-point margin in the final minute. Head coach Dawn Staley told reporters after the game “I’ve only learned what I’ve already known, and that’s I’ve got a resilient basketball team and that they don’t like losing. They are able to make plays on both sides of the basketball through great play, through shoddy play, through having a lead, having built a lead and then getting it down to one and having it be a one-possession game, that they were able to play their way out of it.”

This South Carolina squad is anchored by the senior 6’7 center Cardoso, who leads the team in points and rebounds per game. However, teams can’t forget about the talented and quick guards South Carolina has in Raven Johnson, Bree Hall, Te-Hina Paopao and MiLaysia Fulwiley. Johnson, who some may remember from this viral clip of Caitlin Clark waving her off in last year’s semifinals, hit a much-needed three-pointer against Indiana to help secure the win. The now sophomore has talked about having more confidence this time around and has the shooting capability to be a game-changer.

Some may wonder if the Gamecocks are battle-tested enough after Indiana’s comeback against them, but they have held their own against other ranked SEC teams coming out on top and winning the SEC tournament title. The way their season has gone, it almost seems like it’s their tournament to lose.

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