The women’s March Madness collegiate basketball tournament has been in full swing the past couple of weeks, and the highly competitive games and storylines thus far have been electric. A number of teams have championship aspirations, and rivalries will be revisited in order to crown an ultimate winner. The tournament only promises to amp up in intensity the rest of the way, so let’s recap some of the most memorable tournament moments yet. We’ll also take a look at a future matchup that very well may define who will stand atop women’s college basketball at the Final Four in Cleveland.

One of the tourney’s defining moments came with No. 7 Duke University’s shocking comeback upset of No. 2 Ohio State University in the Round of 32. This game marked an upset, something the tournament is known for, where a higher-seeded team defeated a lower-seeded team. Although Ohio State got out to an early 16-point lead, the Blue Devils never wavered and came storming back to authoritatively defeat the Buckeyes 75-63. Duke guard Reigan Richardson had a dominant performance with 28 points, and coach Kara Lawson reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in her coaching tenure.

Another crucial element of the tournament has been the play of the premier favorites, the University of South Carolina. They have extended their undefeated season with complete blowouts of Presbyterian College and University of North Carolina and withstood a valiant challenge from Indiana University in the Sweet 16 round en route to taking care of business with Oregon State University in the Elite 8. Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley’s squad now has a mind-boggling record of 35-0. The Gamecocks, three wins away from a perfect season, will dominate headlines as they attempt to accomplish something that has not been done since Breanna Stewart and the 2015-2016 University of Connecticut Huskies. The University of Southern California, UConn, University of Iowa and Louisiana State University all appear to be teams capable of defeating the Gamecocks, but they must play a perfect game to defeat a team that has not lost since March 31, 2023.

What can be expected for the remainder of the tournament? Well, the most significant will be the most highly anticipated matchup of the entire tournament between Iowa and LSU. Kickstarting the Elite 8, this game is a rematch of the previous year’s championship game in which LSU came out victorious. However, the tide may turn. Iowa is No. 1 seed in this year’s bracket, and the defending champs are a No. 3 seed, for their standards. 

Caitlin Clark, the most recognizable name in college hoops, has been absolutely magnificent for the Hawkeyes thus far in the postseason. She is averaging 29.3 points per game with all-around play which is evidenced by her 7.3 rebound and 9.3 assist averages. However, the Tigers having a lower ranking should not be an excuse to ignore their continued excellence. Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson lead an LSU squad that is coming off of an impressive win against No. 2 seed UCLA in the Sweet 16. This game also has the potential for some fireworks, as the trash-talking last year between Clark and Reese made national headlines. Although Clark and Reese have made up and squashed any lingering personal feelings of resentment, there is nevertheless palpable on-court animosity between these two teams. The game will be highly competitive, and its winner may be a preview of the eventual champion.

Regardless of who reigns victorious this year in the women’s basketball world, it is undeniable that this year’s tournament has been another fantastic exhibition of high-level basketball and dominance from its elite teams. While not as upset-heavy as is the norm — higher-seeded teams were an astonishing 31-1 in the first round of play — teams have still reached unexpected heights. To evidence the tournament’s unpredictability, there are now zero perfect brackets remaining. The championship is up for grabs, and it will be highly entertaining to witness which of these formidable squads ends their season in triumph.

Just before press time, Iowa and Clark defeated LSU in a rematch of last year’s championship game. Clark also racked up the most assists and three-pointers in tournament history. USC fell to UConn and despite Juju Watkins putting up impressive numbers, Bueckers and the Huskies are headed to the Final Four. UConn will take on Iowa and NC State will face South Carolina on Friday.

Lastly, I want to highlight the significant amount of popularity this year’s tournament has garnered. The viewership levels of women’s March Madness have skyrocketed, with the round of 32 games this year averaging 1.4 million viewers, an increase of 121% from last year. This increase in viewership has been greatly aided by the emergence of star players such as Clark and Reese. Their status as headliners has fundamentally shifted the level of recognition of women’s college basketball. In fact, the ratings on Fox News this year have been higher for women’s college basketball than men, and this has been compounded by the decrease in popularity of the men’s game relative to the growing success of the women. Television ratings will only continue to grow in the women’s game, meaning that a variety of new fans will have the privilege of being exposed to a fantastic basketball product.