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How History Views The Gamecocks' Chances To Win The Title
By Andrew Lyon,
What does history say about South Carolina's Women's Basketball team and their chances of running the table in the NCAA Tournament?
Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks have already accomplished many rare feats in this throughout the 2022-23 season . When the final AP poll came out on Monday, South Carolina became just the third women's college basketball program to ever finish back-to-back seasons as the wire-to-wire No. 1 ranked team in the poll's history. The Gamecocks extended their winning streak to where it became the second-longest winning streak in SEC history behind the late great Pat Summit and her Tennessee Lady Volunteers from the late 1990s.
With their win, ironically enough, against the Tennessee Lady Vols, in the SEC Tournament Title game back on March 5th, Aliyah Boston and the Gamecocks became just the fifteenth power six teams ever in the sport to enter the NCAA Tournament with an unblemished record. When looking back at the other fourteen times this has occurred, what has been the result?
Well, in the fifteen times a team has entered the tournament undefeated, only once did the team not make it to the Final Four, that team being the UConn Huskies back in 1997. Three other teams in the 1990 Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters and 2017 and '18 UConn Huskies made it to the Final Four but failed to advance to the national title game. Each loss mentioned above was to a team that was both a #2 seed or higher and coached by a Women's Basketball Hall of Famer or future one: Joe Ciampi, Vic Schaefer, Pat Summit, and Muffet McGraw.
In the ten occurrences an undefeated power six team has made it to the national title game, only one didn't win the national title. That was the 2014 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who fell to an undefeated UConn Huskies squad led by Breanna Stewart. When looking at the South Carolina Gamecocks' regional , besides the two-seeded Maryland Terrapins, led by head coach Brenda Frese, likely a future Women's Basketball Hall of Famer, no other team-coach combo fits the historical criteria as a program that can topple the defending champions.
When expanding this criterion to the entire side of the bracket that includes South Carolina, only Stanford, and Iowa fit the billing as potential teams that could knock off the Gamecocks. The bottom line is it's not just the present-day numbers that back South Carolina but also the historical numbers as well.