March Madness: The Women’s NCAA Tournament

The above image is the official 2018 March Madness tournament logo. Tournament season is a big time for both men’s and women’s basketball. As the tournament narrows down teams continue to battle for the title. (photo courtesy of Olympia Entertainment)

Due to the hype of the men’s March Madness tournaments, the women’s tournaments are often forgotten, but the talent on the women’s teams cannot be ignored. As the final four games approach, the teams who have earned their ticket are locked in and ready to battle it out for the crystal ball.

Once again UConn, the number one ranked team, has been the dominating force. On Monday, March 26 the UConn women’s team crushed the defending national champions the University of South Carolina by a 29 point margin: 65-94. This defeat advances the Huskie to the Final Four and adds to their undefeated record on the season.

So far, the tournament has been a breeze for the UConn Huskies. With their closest game being a 13 point win over Duke in the sweet sixteen, and their easiest win over St. Francis in the round of sixty-four by an impressive score of 140-52, an 88 point defeat.

Geno Auriemma, UConn’s legendary head coach, leads the team to victory after victory in the tournament. Geno’s first national championship with UConn was in 1995, and since then, he has had 11 national championships, with four consecutive titles from 2013 to 2016.

On top of having one of the best coaches in the NCAA, the UConn women’s team is full of amazing athletes. Katie Lou Samuelson, a 6’3’’ forward/guard, has been recognized as part of the 2018 First Team All Conference; and Kia Nurse, a 6’0’’ guard, was awarded defensive player of the year. Azura Stevens, a Raleigh native and 6’6’’ forward for UConn, was awarded “6th Man of the Year” and “Best Newcomer” after her recent transfer from Duke to UConn.

Besides UConn, the tournament has seen impressive talent from many other teams. Mississippi State has captured the attention of many. After battling through their brackett and defeating UCLA in the regional final, the Bulldogs earned their spot in their second consecutive trip to the Final Four.

Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan has been dominating the boards. After Sunday nights game McCown put up 23 points and 21 rebounds. As for Louisville, their Sunday night win came easy as they turned Oregon State’s 17 turnovers into 24 points.

These two teams couldn’t be more evenly matched, causing high anticipation for the game this Friday March 20 at 7:00pm.

In the other Final Four game, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will be taking on UConn. The Irish took down Oregon in the regional final under the leadership Kathryn Westbeld, a senior forward, who put up 20 points to lead the Irish to a 84-74 win. However, the Irish must come together and give their best performance to defeat the UConn Huskies. The Huskies are known for their tenacious defense and high percentage shooters. Many see the Irish as the underdogs, but March Madness is the month of upsets — there is no telling who will come out victorious. The battle between the Irish and the Huskies takes place this friday March 30 at 9:30pm.

Despite the amazing talent across all of the women’s teams, the men’s tournament receives the majority of the attention. According to last years statistics the men’s championship game between the University of North Carolina and Gonzaga was recorded to have over 22 million viewers. While the women’s championship game between the University of South Carolina and Mississippi State recorded having 3.8 million viewers, which is an almost 30% increase from previous years, yet still almost 6 times less than the mens.

The increase of viewers has come as many begin to recognize just how equally entertaining the women’s teams are to watch as the men. Many actually prefer to watch the women, and all together have even stopped watching the men’s tournament.

If you’re a March Madness fan who is looking to expand their support for the game of basketball, tune in to ESPN2 on friday night as some of the sports most talented women battle it out for a shot at the title. And of course, don’t miss the women’s championship game Sunday night on ESPN2.


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