LSU women’s basketball: Previewing the two teams the Tigers could play with a win Friday

Column: Looking ahead at each potential Elite Eight matchup for LSU women’s hoops
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Looking ahead is just about the worst thing a team can do in March Madness.

But in this stage of the tournament, knowing who you’d potentially play in the national championship before it’s determined could win you a title.

In LSU’s case, if it were to win on Friday against Virginia Tech in the Final Four, it would play the winner of No. 1 seed South Carolina and No. 2 seed Iowa in the national championship.

One of these teams the Tigers have seen before and faced the result every other team that’s met with them has faced. South Carolina, to most, is the one team in women’s college basketball that sets itself apart from the rest of the competition. But given the firepower Iowa has, they might be the one team who can beat them.

Since LSU played against South Carolina in early February, the Gamecocks have remained undefeated. They’ve won an SEC Championship convincingly and went through the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament allowing no more than 40 points in each of the three games.

The Gamecocks have flexed their depth all season, led by senior forward and the projected No. 1 overall WNBA Draft pick, Aliyah Boston. But to put their depth in perspective, a player of this caliber isn’t even their leading scorer.

That would be senior guard, Zia Cooke; she averages a team high of 15.1 points per game. Those two players are only the tip of the iceberg. Boston, standing at 6-foot-5, isn’t the tallest post player the Gamecocks have to offer.

Kamilla Cardoso, standing at 6-foot-7, has stood alongside Boston all season disrupting opposing post players. Against LSU, Cardoso recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. The two also controlled Angel Reese, allowing her to grab a season low of only four rebounds.

Wednesday morning, LSU football held its annual Pro Day, where potential NFL draft prospects run through drills and tests in front of NFL scouts.

Including Boston, Cooke and Cardoso, South Carolina has 10 players that average double-digit minutes played per game. The ability to bring in fresh bodies and have similar production this late in the postseason is why most would say South Carolina is the favorite to win the national championship.

In contrast to South Carolina’s depth, only having three players that play more than 20 minutes per game, Iowa runs a different system. Its system is centered around junior guard, Caitlin Clark.

Clark has caught the nation by storm. With the statistics she puts up every game, she can make a case to be the player to lead their team to take down South Carolina. 

Her numbers speak for itself. She averages 27.3 points per game, which is third in the country, 8.6 assists per game, which is first in the country, and 3.5 three-pointers made per game, also first in the country.

Most recently in Iowa’s Elite Eight matchup against Louisville, Clark recorded a triple-double with 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, marking the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA Tournament history.

Clark’s accomplishments shadow the fact that Iowa has eight players that average over 10 minutes of playing time per game, including Clark. Given its depth as well, Iowa is a team that could potentially hang with South Carolina’s stamina.

Monika Czinano has been Clark’s sidekick this season, averaging 17.2 points per game along with 6.6 rebounds. McKenna Warnock adds an average of 11.1 points per game along with six rebounds. Both Czinano and Warnock being post players, they will see Boston and Cardoso all game.

The post play is where South Carolina shows their advantage. With Boston standing at 6-foot-5 and Cardoso at 6-foot-7, their height gives them the upper hand; Czinano stands at 6-foot-3, and Warnock stands at 6-foot-1. Considering this, Clark’s production will be depended on more than ever Friday.

If LSU wins on Friday, it doesn’t get much easier for the team. In fact, it will likely get harder. The Tigers have seen the teams that are three-point shooting teams, good defensive teams, or teams with good post play. But it’s hard to compete with teams who can do all three and have depth. In this case, the two teams that fall under that category are South Carolina and Iowa.

LSU has exceeded expectations by making it to the Final Four, and beating Virginia Tech Friday would continue to shock fans. But knocking off either South Carolina or Iowa to win a national championship would be remembered for a long time.


About Marc Lemoine 1841 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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