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History For Women’s College Basketball

Posted 05/24/2024 by Max Feierstein

The University of Iowa Women's basketball team celebrating in the fourth quarter of the national quarter final game. photo by Mary Altaffer

The Women’s College Basketball Tournament took the world by storm this spring, making history for all of college sports.

March Madness is a national month dedicated to watching college basketball, building and busting brackets, and rooting for that one 16 seed to upset. But this year the spotlight was not on the men’s tournament but on the women’s. The nation became enthralled with the tournament, following the stories of Iowa University’s Caitlin Clark and Louisiana State University’s Angel Reese. These two stellar players led their teams to amazing runs in this year’s tournament. 

Every year many Americans get excited for March Madness. They fill out brackets and root for teams they normally wouldn’t favor. But this year, the women’s tournament took over as the new favorite to watch. With the help of powerhouse schools like Louisiana State University (LSU), The University of Iowa, The University of South Carolina, and The University of Connecticut (UConn), this year’s women’s tournament was the most watched ever. The women’s championship game between South Carolina and Iowa had an average 18.7 million people tuning in while the men’s championship game had only 14.8 million. The exciting tournament started to pick up viewership around the Elite 8 and quarter final games. Two of the most popular players were facing off in one of the best games in college basketball history. Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes faced off against the defending champions, Angel Reese and the LSU Tigers. Facing off the year before in the championship game, the Hawkeyes were ready for their redemption. The game between Reese and Clark caused the nationwide viewership to skyrocket. Iowa achieved their redemption, beating LSU 94 to 87. This caught even more attention as Iowa and Clark were moving on to face another young star in the semi finals. 

Losing in the Sweet 16 the year before, UConn was looking to cement themselves as a powerhouse team in 2024. Led by 22 year old guard Paige Bueckers, UConn met Iowa in the semifinal game in what would end up being one of the best games in this year’s tournament. Iowa would come out on top, ending UConn’s season and advancing Iowa to the championship game. Meanwhile, in the other semifinal game, historic South Carolina maintained their undefeated season. South Carolina had their eyes on the prize in their semifinal game, demolishing North Carolina State University 78 to 59. They held on and had one game left in their historic season. They just needed to beat an Iowa team, which had their heart set on winning. In a game that was watched nationwide, South Carolina and Iowa put on a show. For the second year in a row, Clark and Iowa fell short of the championship. Completing their undefeated season and winning the championship, South Carolina went down as one of the best women’s college basketball teams in history. “They made history, Staley, overcome with emotion, told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. They etched their names in the history books when this is the unlikeliest group to do it.” 

After last year’s defeat in the semifinals, and losing the eventual Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) number one overall pick, Aliyah Boston, Coach Staley and the young South Carolina team got their redemption on Iowa, winning their second national championship.