The top two programs in all of women's basketball face off this weekend in South Carolina and UConn. Can the Huskies find a way to pull off the upset?
TV schedule: Sunday, February 11th, 2:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Arena: Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina
In the past two decades, it's hard to find two teams and coaches who have dominated the sport of women's college basketball that UConn and South Carolina. Even in what's viewed as a "down year" thanks to injuries, Geno Auriemma and the Huskies (20-4, 12-0 Big East) are still ranked No. 11 and on a three-game win streak.
They're coming off a 67-34 victory over Seton Hall, led by 18 points and 15 rebounds from Aaliyah Edwards. Ashlynn Shade had 17 and star guard Paige Bueckers chipped in with 13 points and five steals. The former No. 1 prospect leads UConn on the season with 20.0 ppg and is the clear favorite for Big East Player of the Year.
But no team in the Big East compares to South Carolina (22-0, 10-0 SEC), the last unbeaten team in the country. After the big road win over LSU two weeks ago, the Gamecocks are coming off a dominant 83-45 win over Missouri. All nine players scored at least four points, led by MiLaysia Fulwiley with 19 points off the bench.
It's hard to see a scenario where South Carolina loses at home but one thing in UConn's favor is that the No. 1 team will be without its best player, Kamilla Cardoso. The 6'7 center leads the Gamecocks with 13.8 ppg and 9.8 rpg but she's currently playing for the Brazilian women's national team and won't play in this game. Still, 6'3 forward Ashlyn Watkins has looked good with extended minutes in her place, including a 14-point and 15-rebound game in a road win over Auburn.
On paper, this looks to be the toughest game left for South Carolina before a potential SEC title game rematch with LSU. Bueckers may need to drop 30+ points for UConn to have a chance and we saw Caitlin Clark do that a year ago. However, the Gamecocks, at home, simply have too much for an upset bid.
Prediction: South Carolina 72, UConn 60