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Women’s March Madness highlights: UConn joins LSU, Iowa, USC in Elite Eight

The women’s NCAA Tournament capped off the Sweet 16 with four contests on the schedule Saturday.

The day began with defending champion LSU facing a tough UCLA team. But Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson did just enough to lift the third-seeded Tigers past the No. 2 seeded Bruins and send Kim Mulkey’s squad back to the Elite Eight. Caitlin Clark and Iowa made sure the tournament would have the rematch everyone craved when the No. 1 seeded Hawkeyes rolled past Colorado in the next game to set up Iowa vs. LSU round two on Monday night.

The third game of the day nearly saw the first top seed go down, but JuJu Watkins and No. 1 Southern California held off a determined Baylor, the fifth seed in the region, in a nail-biter. In the night cap, Paige Bueckers and No. 3 seed UConn took down No. 7 seed Duke.

USA TODAY Sports will provide the latest news, scores, analysis and more all tournament. Follow along and read below for a recap of Saturday’s action.

Women’s March Madness Sweet 16 highlights

Caitlin Clark, Iowa defeat Colorado

FOLLOW THE MADNESS: NCAA basketball bracket, scores, schedules, teams and more.

LSU defeats UCLA

USC defeats Baylor

Women’s March Madness scores today

  • (3) LSU 78, (2) UCLA 69
  • (1) Iowa 89, (5) Colorado 68
  • (1) USC 74, (5) Baylor 70
  • (3) UConn 53, (7) Duke 45

Women’s NCAA Tournament schedule

Here’s the full schedule for Saturday’s Elite Eight games.

UConn, Paige Bueckers outlast Duke to advance to Elite Eight

No. 3 seed Connecticut can take a breath.

The Huskies survived a late run from No. 7 seed Duke to win the Sweet 16 matchup 53-45 and book a trip to the Elite Eight.

Duke went on a 10-0 run capped off by a silky smooth three-point shot from Oluchi Okananwa to bring the game within five with 1:56 left in the game. But the Huskies were able to hold off the surge. Connecticut was up by as many as 20 points in the third quarter.

Okananwa led the Blue Devils with 15 points and six rebounds off the bench. But she also had seven of Duke’s 23 turnovers.

Connecticut will play JuJu Watkins and top-seeded Southern California in the Elite Eight Monday night on ESPN. It’s the Huskies’ 28th appearance in the regional final. — Victoria Hernandez

UConn extends lead over Duke in third quarter

It took a while, but No. 3 seed Connecticut is pulling away from No. 7 seed Duke. They are up 42-27 after three quarters of play.

The Huskies had a lead as large as 20 points, and they continue to take advantage of Duke’s turnovers — the Blue Devils have 19 of them.

Paige Bueckers scored 10 points in the period to bring her total to 19. Aaliyah Edwards and KK Arnold each have 10 points. Edwards has seen limited playing time because she has four fouls.

Oluchi Okananwa leads the Blue Devils with nine points off the bench. Duke finished the period with five straight points. — Victoria Hernandez

UConn leads Duke after first-half offensive slog

No. 7 seed Duke didn’t score in the second quarter until halfway through the 10-minute period and have only made five field goals so far.

The Blue Devils went into the halftime break down 23-13 to No. 3 seed UConn.

Duke is shooting an eyebrow-raisingly low 20.8 percent from the field. Connecticut has eight steals, and Duke has committed 13 turnovers.

“I like how we’re applying the pressure. We’re speeding them up,” UConn star Aaliyah Edwards said on the ESPN broadcast at the break.

UConn hasn’t been perfect, either. The Huskies made their first substitution of the game at 1:42 when head coach Geno Auriemma took Edwards out with three fouls. She leads the team with 10 points and four rebounds. Paige Bueckers has nine points. UConn is shooting 39.3 percent, hasn’t made a three-point bucket and only made 1-of-4 free throws.

It’s the lowest first half totals of the season for both teams. — Victoria Hernandez

UConn leads Duke after first quarter

No. 3 seed Connecticut hold a 10-6 lead over No. 7 Duke through the first quarter.

The Huskies could have been by up by a lot more. It’s the lowest first quarter of the season for the Blue Devils, who have committed six turnovers so far.

Neither team has made a three-point shot yet. Duke has taken five attempts, UConn two.

Paige Bueckers and Aaliyah Edwards each have four points for UConn. Reigan Richardson has the same amount for Duke. Delaney Thomas has two fouls already. — Victoria Hernandez

UConn vs. Duke is underway

Who else could have possibly scored the first points of this Sweet 16 matchup?

It was Paige Bueckers, of course, who got No. 3 seed Connecticut on the board with a jumpshot.

Taina Mair answered for No. 7 seed Duke. With five turnovers between the teams, the score has been tied at 2 through the first three minutes of the first quarter. They are facing off on ESPN. — Victoria Hernandez

Southern Cal hangs on, downs Baylor 74-70

PORTLAND, Ore. — We’ve been waiting for madness and Saturday, we got it.

In a back-and-forth game featuring 11 lead changes and five ties, USC prevailed 74-70, sending the Trojans to their first Elite Eight since 1994. They’ll play the winner of UConn-Duke on Monday for a trip to the Final Four.

After a dominant third quarter from Baylor — the Bears outscored the Trojans 26-16 — USC got back in front with an 8-0 run that gave USC a 69-64 lead with 1:49 to go. But Sarah Andrews quieted the Trojans with a 3, then grabbed a steal and took off for the other end. Two quick fouls from USC slowed the Bears’ transition before USC’s Kaitlyn Davis stepped in front of a charging Dre’una Edwards, giving USC the ball back with 53.5 seconds and a 69-67 lead.

Then chaos really did ensue.

Davis got the ball at the elbow but suddenly, her shoe was off. She kicked the ball to Watkins and was supposed to go set a screen but was fumbling with her sneaker. Then, somehow, Davis was alone under the basket — but she missed a layup, and the ball went out of bounds.

After a lengthy review at the monitor, officials said it was USC ball, with a 69-67 lead, 29.3 seconds to play and just five seconds on the shot clock. The Trojans’ lob to Watkins was long, but she corralled the ball and Baylor bumped her. Watkins hit both free throws to give USC breathing room, 71-67, with 26.4 to play.

The Bears didn’t blink. They needed all of 4.6 seconds for Andrews to bank in a a 3 and bring it within one again, 71-70. Watkins hit two more free throws, and pushed USC’s lead back to 73-70 with 19.5 seconds to play.

On the next possession, Andrews’ long 3 missed, Rayah Marshall grabbed the rebound, then hit one of two from the line to make it a two possession game.

Watkins finished with 30 points, but it took her 28 shots to get there. McKenzie Forbes chipped in 14, and Marshall recorded the 14th double-double of the season, scoring 11 and grabbing 16 rebounds. – Lindsay Schnell

Baylor leads No. 1 seed Southern Cal heading to final quarter

PORTLAND, Ore. — Baylor is feeling it, to say the least.

A brief recap of the Bears’ last few minutes: They scored seven unanswered points, hitting three consecutive field goals, including a 3 from Dre’una Edwards, a pull-up from Jada Walker and then a tough layup through contact, also from Walker.

All of this has led to a 57-53 Baylor advantage going into the fourth quarter. The Bears had a terrific third period, outscoring USC 26-16 and erasing a halftime deficit. They also held USC to 7-of-20 from the field in the third, while shooting 11-of-17 themselves.

In a game that’s already featured eight lead changes and four ties, it feels like the fourth quarter could get a little chaotic. – Lindsay Schnell

Baylor takes lead behind Sarah Andrews

PORTLAND, Ore. — No lead is safe in March. Just ask the USC Trojans.

After building as much as an 11-point edge the first half, the Trojans are suddenly trailing Baylor, 50-49, after a 3 from the Bears’ Sarah Andrews.

USC hasn’t scored in the last 2:25, which is probably why coach Lindsay Gottlieb called a timeout with 2:53 to play in the third quarter. She’s probably drawing something up to get a good look because goodness, the Trojans need it. USC has hit just one of its last eight shots, while the Bears have reeled off six unanswered points. – Lindsay Schnell

Iowa, LSU will meet in Elite Eight in rematch of 2023 title game

The rematch is here.

One year after LSU and Angel Reese knocked off Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the women’s national championship, a game that featured logo 3s and trash talk, the teams will meet again. It’s another contrast of styles, a matchup sure to draw eyeballs: Iowa likes to score from the perimeter, LSU pounds it in the paint. And this time, there’s a Final Four trip on the line.

Top-seeded Iowa, led by the reigning and presumptive player of the year, will meet third-seeded LSU Monday at 7 p.m. ET in the Albany 2 regional championship. The winner will advance to the Final Four in Cleveland.

LSU is trying to become the first back-to-back champs since UConn did it in 2016, and Iowa is trying to reach its second consecutive Final Four for the first time. – Lindsay Schnell

Read complete story here.

Trojans lead Bears at halftime

PORTLAND, Ore. — No matter who you’re rooting for in this game, you’ve got to appreciate pretty basketball.

And that’s what Southern Cal puts on the floor, especially when JuJu Watkins and McKenzie Forbes are running in transition, getting USC easy buckets. That’s how the top-seeded Trojans have a 37-31 halftime lead over fourth-seeded Baylor.

Watkins leads all scorers with 15, Forbes has nine and the Trojans are shooting 40% from the field while holding Baylor to 32%.

In typical balanced Baylor fashion, the Bears have five players who have scored four points or more. But Baylor doesn’t have a go-to player when things aren’t going well, and it shows. The Bears are outscoring USC’s bench 11-2, but that’s about the only place it’s going well (though the teams are tied on the boards, 23-23).

USC ended the half hitting just one of its last seven shots, so maybe Baylor has some momentum going into halftime. But in order to win this game, the Bears have to figure out a way to slow Watkins, who already has taken 16 shots and shot six free throws. – Lindsay Schnell

USC leads Baylor after tight first quarter

It took them a few minutes to come alive, but No. 1 seed Southern California is leading No. 5 seed Baylor 18-16 at the end of the first quarter in their Sweet 16 matchup.

USC went on a 6-0 run, with four points from JuJu Watkins, to take their first lead of the game at 6:02. The Trojans and Bears battled back and forth the rest of the quarter.

Watkins has eight points, and Rayah Marshall has seven rebounds already for USC. Junior guard Jada Walker has six points for the Bears. — Victoria Hernandez

No. 1 USC faces No. 5 Baylor in Sweet 16 matchup

Baylor was in the headlines on Saturday because of the Washington Post article on former head coach Kim Mulkey.

But the current players for the No. 5 seeded Bears showed they are in their own era as they took a 7-2 lead over No. 1 Southern California in their Sweet 16 game with 7:33 in the first quarter. Freshman star JuJu Watkins has the only points for USC, a jumper in the first 30 seconds of play. Jada Walker has four points for the Bears. The game is on ESPN. — Victoria Hernandez

Iowa vs. Colorado final: Hawkeyes blow out Colorado, 89-68

No. 1 seed Iowa is moving on to the Elite Eight for a date with No. 3 seed LSU, a rematch of the 2023 NCAA women’s tournament championship game. It marks Iowa’s sixth Elite Eight in program history.

The Hawkeyes cruised past No. 5 seed Colorado in the Sweet 16 on Saturday. Iowa, who led by as many as 27 points, easily defeated the Buffaloes 89-68.

Clark finished her night with 29 points (13-for-22 from field, 3-for-11 from three), 15 assists (the most in a game in her NCAA tournament career), six rebounds and one block.

Every one of Iowa’s starters reached double figures, with junior Sydney Addolter adding 15, senior Kate Martin adding 14 and senior Gabbie Marshall with 12. The team collectively shot 53.8% from the field and 9-of-22 from three.

“I think that’s why we were so successful, we really moved the ball,” Clark said postgame. “Our defense was really good… proud of the group.”

Colorado, however, struggled to shoot the ball. The Buffaloes shot just 37.5% form the field and 9-of-29 from three. They were out rebounded 43-34 and lost the battle in the paint, 46-36. — Cydney Henderson

Who is JuJu Watkins? Star freshman leads USC into Sweet 16 matchup

JuJu Watkins is a 6-2 guard for Southern California. She hails from Los Angeles and was the nation’s top recruit coming out of high school. Watkins led the Trojans to their most regular-season victories in 30 years and was named Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Week 14 times.

Watkins, who was also named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a first-time all-conference selection, averages 26.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.4 steals per game. — Victoria Hernandez

Caitlin Clark boosts Iowa to big lead over Colorado after three quarters

Caitlin Clark is heating up from behind the 3-point line. After starting off 1-of-8 from beyond the arc, Clark knocked down back-to-back threes to extend the Hawkeyes lead to 19 points. With the three, Clark tied Diana Taurasi’s record for most 3-pointers made in the NCAA Tournament.

A layup from Sydney Affolter with 1:07 left in the third put Iowa up 68-47 over Colorado, the Hawkeyes largest of the game. It also marked Clark’s 12th assist of the game.

Clark is now on triple-double watch with 25 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. And she’s been efficient doing it with only two turnovers through three quarters. She’s scored or assisted on 50 of Iowa’s 68 points.

No Colorado player is in double digits yet. Senior Jaylyn Sherrod has a team-high nine points, but also has three fouls. — Cydney Henderson

Iowa vs. Colorado halftime: Hawkeyes have 13-point lead

No. 1 seed Iowa took a double-digit lead over No. 5 Colorado heading into the locker room up 48-35 at halftime.

“That’s the key to the game, having multiple in double figures,” Clark said on getting her teammates involved. “Our defense needs to be a little bit better in transition though.”

Iowa’s turnovers are keeping Colorado in the game. The Buffaloes have converted nine Hawkeyes turnovers into eight points and have 12 offensive rebounds, to Iowa’s five.

Colorado’s leading scorer, junior Aaronette Vonleh, picked up her second foul early in the second quarter and had to sit. The Buffaloes missed her presence in the paint and were outscored 30-20 through two quarters. Colorado is shooting 34.1% from the field and 3-of-14 from three, while Iowa is shooting 61.3% from the field and 3-of-9 from three. — Cydney Henderson

Iowa vs. Colorado: Hawkeyes lead 22-14 after first quarter

Iowa Senior Caitlin Clark can not only score, she can pass. She threw a dime in traffic to sophomore Hannah Stuelke, whose layup pushed the Hawkeyes’ lead back up to eight points at the end of the first quarter.Clark, who has six points, six assists and one block, has scored or assisted on 19 of Iowa’s 22 points

Colorado’s struggles from the 3-point line continue. The Buffaloes are 0-for-6 from three and only shooting 30% from the field. Colorado junior Aaronette Vonleh has a team-high five points. — Cydney Henderson

Caitlin Clark leads Iowa to early lead over Colorado

We’re off to the races in Albany, NY. Both No. 1 seed Iowa and No. 5 seed Colorado came out the gates with pace, but Iowa pulled away for an 15-7 lead with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter. Senior Caitlin Clark has four points, four assists and three rebounds already, but Iowa needs to take better care of the ball with three first-quarter turnovers.

Colorado junior Aaronette Vonleh leads the Buffaloes with three points. Colorado is 0-of-4 from the 3-point line and is shooting a dismal 27.3% from the field. They haven’t scored in nearly three minutes of play as the first quarter comes to a close. — Cydney Henderson

Can ‘villain’ Colorado Buffaloes overcome Caitlin Clark, Iowa (and the refs)?

The last time Colorado played Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the Sweet 16, the Buffaloes couldn’t seem to catch a break with the referees.

Three starters for Colorado fouled out of the game. The Buffaloes also had half as many free throws (12) as the Hawkeyes (24) before losing to them in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament last year, 87-77. Clark, meanwhile, scored 31 points as foul calls became an issue.

If that all sounds familiar, it’s because the Iowa Hawkeyes are riding high again as the popular team that is sometimes perceived as the recipient of favorable treatment from the refs. And now they play Colorado again in the Sweet 16 on Saturday in Albany, New York, this time with the Buffaloes reprising their role as villains.

“Being the villain, being the underdog, having our backs against the wall are all things that lead (to) success for the Buffaloes,” Colorado forward Quay Miller said earlier this week. — Brent Schrotenboer

Click here to read the full story.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa tip off against Colorado

Caitlin Clark and the No. 1 seed Iowa Hawkeyes are one win away from their second straight appearance in the Elite Eight. No. 5 seed Colorado stands in their way.

Iowa and Colorado are set to tip off their Sweet 16 matchup at MVP Arena in Albany, NY on Saturday. Colorado hasn’t been to the Elite Eight since 2002.

The winner will face No. 3 seed LSU in the Elite Eight. — Cydney Henderson

LSU star Angel Reese asked about interactions with UCLA coaches after Sweet 16 game

LSU forward Angel Reese said her on-court trash talk the moments after she fouled out of the Tigers’ Sweet 16 victory over UCLA wasn’t directed at Bruins head coach Cori Close but at an assistant who Reese says had started to taunt her.

‘She told me good game,’ Reese said after the game of Close. ‘It was another coach that was talking a little crazy.’

When asked to elaborate, Reese declined and said: ‘Next question.’

Reese fouled out with 31 seconds left in the game, with LSU holding a six-point lead. After being called for the foul, Reese immediately started jawing toward the UCLA bench while jogging over to the other side of the court, where LSU’s bench was. After making her comments, Reese smiled and joined her teammates.

She recorded 16 points, 11 rebounds and four steals in the 78-69 LSU victory. — Lorenzo Reyes

UCLA vs. LSU final score, 78-69: Tigers outlast Bruins, punch Elite Eight ticket

If there is to be a rematch of last year’s national championship, the LSU Tigers did their part.

In what was a hard-fought, tightly contested game that saw eight ties and 13 lead changes, LSU’s late defense and shot making – including free throws – helped the Tigers close on a 14-4 run and seal the trip to the Elite Eight with a 78-69 victory over the UCLA Bruins.

LSU sophomore guard Flau’jae Johnson left her imprint all over this game, on both offense and defense. She led all scorers with 24 points, but also hauled in 11 rebounds and made plays on defense, including drawing a late offensive foul and blocking a shot down the stretch.

Four of LSU’s five starters reached double figures, with forward Angel Reese, who fouled out, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 boards.

The Tigers will face the winner of the game between No. 1 Iowa and No. 5 Colorado, to be played next Saturday afternoon in Albany. If the Hawkeyes beat the Buffaloes, it will set up an Elite Eight matchup that is a rematch of last year’s title game, a 102-85 LSU victory. –Lorenzo Reyes

UCLA vs. LSU third quarter update: UCLA ties the game thanks to the 3-ball

UCLA, thanks to offensive fouls drawn on LSU and defensive stops, and efficient execution on the other side of the ball, have tied the game at 48

The Bruins ripped off a 10-2 run and outscored LSU by seven points in the third period.

It’s no coincidence that UCLA, which had started the game just 2 of 17 from 3-point range, suddenly caught fire from deep, draining 4-of-11 (36.4%) 3-point shots in the third quarter. UCLA sophomore guard Londynn Jones hit three of those 3-pointers in the third quarter and now leads the Bruins with 14 points.

For the Tigers, it has been Flau’jae Johnson, who has a game-high 17 points and joins two other Tigers – forward Angel Reese and guard Aneesah Morrow – in double figures. Reese, with 10 points and 10 rebounds, recorded her 78th career double-double. –Lorenzo Reyes

UCLA vs. LSU halftime update: Tigers take lead into the break

The pace of scoring slowed some in the second quarter, but LSU closed the half on an 8-3 run to open a seven-point lead on UCLA.

The Tigers are up 34-27.

LSU has been more discerning in their perimeter shot selection, taking just four 3-pointers, and making half of those. UCLA, which entered Saturday shooting 32.5% from beyond the arc, made its first 3-point attempt of the quarter but is still just 2 of 17 (11.8%) from long distance.

The Tigers have been working to crowd the paint and contest entry passes to Bruin center Lauren Betts. As a result, UCLA has struggled to capitalize down low; it converted its first second-quarter field goal in the paint with 3:56 left to play in the period.

LSU guard Flau’jae Johnson leads all scorers with 13 points. Forward Angel Reese is one of three LSU players with six points. Reese also has a team-high six rebounds.

UCLA forward Gabriela Jaquez leads the Bruins with nine points. Betts did not score in the second period and is stuck on five points, with 10 rebounds. –Lorenzo Reyes

UCLA vs. LSU first quarter update: Physical game is tied after one

Despite a cold start, the defending champion LSU Tigers course-corrected and tied the game.

The Tigers started 2 of 7 from the floor, but sophomore guard Flau’jae Johnson helped spark an LSU run, at one point scoring eight consecutive points for the Tigers.

While the Bruins have dominated down low – all but one of the team’s points have come in the paint – UCLA has failed to find the net on its 3 pointers, missing each of its eight attempts from beyond the arc. The Bruins also have benefitted from second-chance points, holding a 5-to-1 edge over LSU on offensive rebounds.

Johnson leads all scorers with eight points and has added three rebounds.

For UCLA, star sophomore center Lauren Betts is well on her way to a double-double, with five points and five rebounds. Sophomore forward Gabriela Jaquez has chipped in four points off the bench. –Lorenzo Reyes

Angel Reese has nose bloodied in first quarter vs. UCLA

In a little bit of incidental contact, LSU star Angel Reese briefly went to the sideline to have a her bloody nose cleaned up. UCLA center Lauren Betts made content with Reese’s nose, leading to the incident. Reese would re-enter the game after having gauze inserted into her nose. That’s an emblematic of what has been a very physical affair between the two sides.

Kim Mulkey’s outfit draws eyeballs during LSU vs. UCLA

Well, it’s no surprise that Kim Mulkey is once again wearing her Sunday best (just on a Saturday). This time, Mulkey might be a little brighter than usual:

‘So now Kim Mulkey is glittering with confusion,’ Ruocco said.

(3) LSU vs. (2) UCLA tip off with shot at Elite Eight

UCLA takes a quick two-point lead off a post jumper from Angela Dugalic, and the day’s slate of games is underway. It’s Lauren Betts vs. Angel Reese in a highlight matchup in the Sweet 16.

When does Caitlin Clark play next?

Caitlin Clark and top-seeded Iowa takes to the court today in Albany, New York, against the No. 5 Colorado Buffaloes. They tip off around 3:30 p.m. ET.

How to watch women’s NCAA Tournament games

ABC will broadcast No. 3 LSU vs. No. 2 UCLA and No. 1 Iowa vs. No. 5 Colorado before ESPN airs No. 1 USC vs. No. 5 Baylor and No. 3 UConn vs. No. 7 Duke.

How to watch Caitlin Clark and Iowa vs. Colorado

ABC will air Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes against Colorado in their Sweet 16 game.

Sweet 16 predictions

March is synonymous with madness — so is a major upset coming in the second half of the Sweet 16? And is it only an upset if it sends Caitlin Clark packing? The answer to the second question is, absolutely not. There’s plenty of pandemonium that could still play out. With that in mind, we offer a handful of Sweet 16 bold predictions. Read on and enjoy. And remember that if you use any of this information to win bets with your friends, you heard (or read) it here first.

How many points has Caitlin Clark scored?

As Iowa’s Caitlin Clark continues to rewrite the record books, USA TODAY Sports is tracking all her stats during the NCAA Tournament. Here’s everything you need to know about the superstar guard. Here is an in-depth, illustrated look at the Iowa star and her race to the all-time NCAA Division I scoring record.

NCAA women’s March Madness bracket

You can find the complete women’s March Madness bracket here.

NCAA women’s tournament schedule

Here is the scoreboard and schedule for today’s Sweet 16 games in the NCAA women’s tournament.

Oregon State wants to break dam towards new nickname

Oregon State wants a new nickname.

Sophomore guard Talia von Oelhoffen has launched a campaign to make the Beavers “America’s team,” posting a TikTok on Saturday morning to help make their case.

“The media shows us no love so I think TikTok should be on our side. For every single game that we’ve played, they just talk about the other team,” von Oelhoffen said, surrounded by several teammates on the floor of their locker room.

“We won our game yesterday and all anyone wants to talk about is a nose ring and how many turnovers we had,” she added.

The freshman All-American wound up having one of her worst games of the season, scoring 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting.

Oregon State, meanwhile, won the game despite turning the ball over a season-high 26 teams.

“A W is a W,” Adlee Blacklock said in the TikTok.

There’s plenty to like about Oregon State. It finished fourth in the stacked Pac-12 after being picked to finish 10th in the preseason. It has Raegan Beers, who led the nation in field goal percentage (66.4%) and averaged a double-double.

But the Beavers play on the West Coast, their games usually tipping off after much of the country has gone to bed. That doesn’t make the Beavers any less deserving of love, von Oelhoffen said.

“This team plays so together, and we’re so unselfish, and we love each other so much,” von Oelhoffen said. “That might not get views, that might not get clicks, that might not be a headline that pulls everyone in, but it wins games and it’s important between the lines.

“I just think this team is so incredible and so special. We might not have the big names in the commercials and TikTok stars. Yet. We’re trying!” –Nancy Armour

LSU vs. UCLA prediction

Yes, the Bruins are seeded higher. But the defending champion Tigers haven’t played a great postseason game yet, and they’re due. Big time.

Not so long ago, UCLA was a trendy Final Four pick. The Bruins are loaded with talent, and have one of the top sophomores in the country in center Lauren Betts, whose polished footwork is even more impressive when you consider her 6-foot-7 frame. But the Bruins have a bad habit of not getting her the ball as much as they should, Betts has been dealing with nagging injuries (she didn’t play in UCLA’s first-round win over Cal Baptist) and LSU’s Angel Reese plays a tough, physical brand of ball that Betts hasn’t seen much of. Reese also has a habit of intimidating opponents.

Iowa vs. Coloardo prediction

Yes, Caitlin Clark gets the attention (and the calls). But to beat the Buffs you’ve got to bring physicality, especially in the post. Hannah Stuelke, the sophomore who earlier this season scored 47 points vs. Penn State, will do that, and because of it, Iowa will advance.

Caitlin Clark to the Olympics? USA Basketball names her to training camp roster

Right now, she is the only college player invited to training camp, which will take place in Cleveland during the women’s Final Four. In its release, USAB said the roster of invited players is still subject to change. — Lindsay Schnell

Iowa, rich with basketball history, loves Caitlin Clark so much they carved her out of butter

To fully understand the impact that Caitlin Clark has had on Iowa, a state that’s long adored and supported women’s basketball, consider this: For all of the superstars who have come out of this Midwestern hub, for all of the legends who dominated that still-celebrated relic of six-on-six, for all the locals worshipped by other locals, only one has had her likeness carved out of butter. And that it wasn’t an exact resemblance is not the point.

“Obviously I never expected to be sculpted out of butter,” Clark said, laughing as she recalled the August 2023 statue that went viral. “But if you’re from the state of Iowa, you know that’s a really big deal. You go to the state fair just to see the butter sculptures.”

USC vs. Baylor prediction

The best freshman in the country has turned heads this year with her scoring — she’s second in the nation at 26.9 points per game — but JuJu Watkins’ elite basketball IQ is why she’s also a fantastic defensive player. It’s an under appreciated part of her game, though the numbers prove how good she is: Coming into the tournament, Watkins was the only player in the country averaging multiple steals and 1.5 blocks per game and the only player in the women’s game to rank in the top 75 for both those categories, coming in at 45th in steals (2.38 per game) and 64th in blocks (1.56).

UConn vs. Duke prediction

Geno Auriemma knew exactly what he was doing after UConn’s second-round win over Syracuse when he called Paige Bueckers “the best player in America” — challenging people to look at Bueckers’ numbers compared to Caitlin Clark’s, and infusing his junior guard with confidence.

Just two years ago, Bueckers got all the attention in women’s basketball. But as Bueckers rehabbed injuries, Clark and Reese emerged as the faces of college hoops. Now all three are playing in the Sweet 16 — along with All-American freshmen JuJu Watkins and Hannah Hidalgo — and there’s no question Bueckers is eager to remind people that she used to run the show.

Women’s March Madness players to watch today

  • UCLA F Lauren Betts (14.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 65.3% FG), can score at-will in the paint when her teammates get her the ball
  • Iowa G Caitlin Clark (31.9 ppg, 8.9 apg), the best scorer and most complete offensive player in the history of the women’s college game
  • LSU G Mikaylah Williams (14.4 ppg, 47.2% FG), a tremendous freshman scorer who plays like a seasoned veteran.
  • UConn F Ice Brady (4.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg), who stepped up big in the Big East tournament, more than doubling her scoring output
  • USC G Mckenzie Forbes (13.5 ppg, 3.3 apg), who pretty much only hits big shots in big moments

Women’s March Madness players to watch today

  • UCLA F Lauren Betts (14.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 65.3% FG), can score at-will in the paint when her teammates get her the ball
  • Iowa G Caitlin Clark (31.9 ppg, 8.9 apg), the best scorer and most complete offensive player in the history of the women’s college game
  • LSU G Mikaylah Williams (14.4 ppg, 47.2% FG), a tremendous freshman scorer who plays like a seasoned veteran.
  • UConn F Ice Brady (4.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg), who stepped up big in the Big East tournament, more than doubling her scoring output
  • USC G Mckenzie Forbes (13.5 ppg, 3.3 apg), who pretty much only hits big shots in big moments

How to watch women’s March Madness like a pro

So, you’re going to watch women’s March Madness. Is this your first time? If so, welcome. The women’s game is growing at a rapid rate, and we’re happy to have you here. You’ve picked a great time to join the party, given the star power of players like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, who are playing in their last March Madness. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of young superstars in the game too, from JuJu Watkins (Southern Cal) to Hannah Hidalgo (Notre Dame)to Madison Booker (Texas) and a whole host of others.

Filling out men’s brackets has always been par for the course but this year, nearly every bracket competition has seen a significant uptick in people filling out women’s brackets. There’s no question the women’s tournament is going to shine this year — maybe even outshine the men’s — and we’re here to help you enjoy it. So let’s talk semantics, so you can have the best women’s tournament viewing experience possible. — Lindsay Schnell

NCAA women’s tournament 2024 game locations

A quick reminder that like in 2023, the women’s tournament will have two “super” regionals, meaning there will be four Sweet 16 and two Elite Eight games at each site. This change was made in an effort to draw more fans, and worked well last year. Given the star power in the game this season — Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Paige Bueckers — you can expect more of the same.

Who won the 2023 women’s basketball national championship?

Last year’s NCAA Tournament featured the most-watched Final Four in the sport’s history when Iowa handed South Carolina a rare loss and then lost a nail-biter to LSU in the championship.

Women’s March Madness schedule

  • First round: March 22-23
  • Second round: March 24-25
  • Sweet 16: March 29-30
  • Elite Eight: March 31-April 1
  • Final Four: Friday, April 5 at 7:30 and 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • NCAA championship game: Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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