Wow. What a year for both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments. Yes, there was pure madness on the men’s side with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds falling way earlier than expected. However, the women’s side wasn’t short of any surprises either.
South Carolina’s win streak was snapped, Angel Reese couldn’t see Caitlin Clark and, oh yeah, Caitlin Clark. This tournament attracted millions of viewers this year, and this could be the start of something great.
I’m not going to lie, before this year, I really didn’t tune into the women’s games or tournament very much, if at all. I knew the biggest names and the storylines, but I wasn’t truly invested. That all changed this year. Yes, it helped that Ohio State was so good this year and was poised to make a deep run (which they did). However, I feel like there was more promotion and coverage of the women more than I had seen before.
I have to shout out the major networks, especially ESPN, for really pushing to cover the women. They put their best analysts on the beat and made it a fun sport to tune into. The tournament was also all over my social media feeds, so I really didn’t have a choice whether I saw it or not. Yet, I am very glad that I did.
First off, you had to follow along to see when South Carolina’s win streak, if ever this season, was going to be snapped. Everyone loves head coach Dawn Staley, and Aliyah Boston has been making history the past two seasons, so they were must-watch throughout the whole tourney. They are like the Kansas City Chiefs of women’s basketball— a dynasty that has been doing so well, there is a division of those who want them to keep it going and those who want to see a new team reign supreme.
Next, when it gets further along into the tournament, usually only No. 1 and No. 2 seeds remain. This year was different. No. 1 Stanford lost to No. 8 Ole Miss in the second round and the most shocking upset of the whole tournament, in my opinion, No. 1 Indiana got bounced in the second round by No. 9 Miami. Indiana was an unstoppable force all year, led by Mackenzie Holmes & Co., and to see them lose this early was extremely surprising. However, it made an easier path to the Natty for Ohio State’s regional.
Speaking of Ohio State, I obviously have to shout out their historic run. Upsetting UConn in the Sweet 16 was absolutely legendary. I really thought they were going to advance to the Final Four after that game, but either way, what a fun and (somewhat) unexpected outcome. If somehow Buckeye fans weren’t tuning in all throughout the regular season, they definitely had to during the tournament.
The best part of the tourney was the Final Four. My personal national championship was South Carolina and Iowa. Now, I haven’t watched a ton of women’s basketball prior to this season so I’m no expert, but this game was the best game of WBB I’ve ever seen. Truly two of the best teams duking it out for a spot in the title game, with two of the best players in Boston and Clark going head to head — the storyline doesn’t get better than that!
Don’t even get me started on the impact Clark has had. She single-handedly made millions of Americans, even men, tune in to watch her play! She is just so freaking dominant in every single game. She put her team on her back and took them to the National Championship. The 40-point games, the double-doubles, the triple-doubles, the confidence... it’s just unmatched.
You just can’t look away when you watch her. She can pull up from anywhere on the court and make a shot. Her shooting skills are just incredible. She’s a great teammate, leader and role model, and I can’t believe we get to watch her for another year.
Oh yes, we get to watch her AND Angel Reese for another year. While the LSU/Iowa title game got a bit spoiled by the refs in my opinion, it was still a fascinating game to watch. No one picked the Tigers to win it all, and whatever your views are, they did it with confidence/cockiness. I’m not going to get into this debate, but all I’m going to say is that these women are must-see TV.
I am so sad this tournament is over. I tuned in more to the women than to the men simply because the games were more fun to watch and I knew more players deep in the tournament! This year in general has definitely made me a women’s basketball fan, and I’m already excited for next year, to watch Clark dominate again and see if the Buckeyes can make it even further. Yay, women’s sports!