University of South Carolina looking to go back-to-back in March Madness tournament


University of South Carolina is the heavy favorite to win March Madness 2023, which would make them back-to-back champions.

Sinclair Richman

In an NCAA women’s basketball season that has been plagued by injuries, there have been some clear standout teams in the rankings. In 2022, the South Carolina Gamecocks took a dominant win against University of Connecticut (UCONN) in the March Madness finals, winning 64-49. Now they are back to defend their title, but not without competition, most notably from the Indiana Hoosiers.

University of South Carolina

The case for the Gamecocks is an easy one to make. They are currently 32-0 on the season and were the SEC regular season champions, winning the SEC tournament.

The Gamecocks are led by reigning Naismith Player of the Year, Defender of the Year, and Final Four MVP, senior forward, Aliyah Boston. Boston is currently averaging 13.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, as well as a dominant 2 blocks per game. She’s backed by senior guard Zia Cooke, averaging 15.5 points per game and junior center Kamilla Cardoso, who is averaging 9.7 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. The Gamecocks are coached by 14-year head coach Dawn Staley, a two-time National Championship winner.

The Gamecocks picked up a number of SEC awards. Boston received Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and First-Team All-SEC. Cooke was placed on the First-Team All-SEC as well, and Cardoso was 6th Woman of the Year and Second-Team All-SEC. Senior Brea Beal was placed on the All-Defensive Team, and Raven Johnson was put on the All-Freshman Team. Staley was SEC Coach of the Year.

The Gamecocks have yet to be beaten, but teams with a strong forward presence can challenge that. Stanford tested them, bringing the game into overtime, where the Gamecocks were able to pull out a 76-71 win. UCONN was also able to hold a close game with them, but again, the Gamecocks remained victorious, 81-77. Both Stanford and UCONN share the common strength with their strong post presence, including Cameron Brink for Stanford and Aaliyah Edwards for UCONN. With someone strong and skilled down low with Boston, the Gamecocks were slowed down greatly.

The Gamecocks have been able to pull away a couple tough wins, while looking very dominant over the season. It would be shocking if the Gamecocks didn’t make it to the finals, let alone win the championship.

Indiana University

An arguable sleeper team at the beginning, the Hoosiers came into the season ranked 11 in the Associated Press preseason poll, but have jumped to number 2.. Although they have never seen the number 1 spot, they have been the only team aside from South Carolina to receive any number 1 votes all season. They were the Big 10 regular season champions, but lost in the Big 10 semifinals to Ohio State, setting their record going into March Madness at 27-3.

They are led by senior forward Mackenzie Holmes, who is averaging an impressive 22.5 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. Unlike the Gamecocks, who have yet to lose anyone to injury, the Hoosiers went eight games without graduate guard Grace Berger, who was injured during a tournament in Las Vegas. Berger is averaging 12.4 points and 5.9 assists per game for the Hoosiers, but despite her being gone, they only lost one game in that span of time. Holmes was just recognized as the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, and head coach Teri Moren was Big 10 Coach of the Year.

Holmes is the type of post presence that could match up with Boston. She is powerful and thoughtful, a deadly combination that can match up with the impressive skill of Boston. With Berger back, the Hoosiers have a legitimate chance of winning March Madness.

Despite the Hoosiers having Holmes, a strong post presence that could compete with Boston, the Gamecocks are still the clear favorite to win the March Madness tournament. The level of talent on the team, combined with the way that they play, makes South Carolina one of the strongest NCAA women’s basketball teams in a while. It would be no surprise if South Carolina becomes a back-to-back champion team, carrying their perfect record through into next season.