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National Championship Preview: UConn and South Carolina face off in clash of titans

This year’s national championship game features the past two AP players of the year going against each other: Aliyah Boston of the South Carolina Gamecocks (2022) and Paige Bueckers of the UConn Huskies (2021).

NCAA Womens Basketball: South Carolina at Connecticut
Paige Bueckers (left) and Zia Cooke
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It all comes down to this: the South Carolina Gamecocks and the UConn Huskies will meet up on the first Sunday of April in Minneapolis to play for the 2022 NCAAW national championship. Both teams are coming off impressive wins over difficult opponents, as the former pulled away from the Louisville Cardinals and the latter held on against the defending champion Stanford Cardinal.

This is the second time that these two teams are meeting this season, as the Gamecocks previously defeated the Huskies 73-57 in the Battle 4 Atlantis final in late November of 2021. Since 2015, they have met nine times and UConn has won seven.

This will be a truly historic matchup as UConn head coach Geno Auriemma will put his 11-0 championship game record to the test against South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley’s team, which has yet to lose to a ranked team this season.

Neither team is short on talent. South Carolina of course trots out 2022 AP national player of the year Aliyah Boston (17 points and 12.4 rebounds per game), who isn’t capable of not having a double-double even if she tried. The Gamecocks will also have two other reliable stars in Destanni Henderson (11.1 points and 3.9 assists per game) and Zia Cooke (10.7 points per game) and reliable supporting players in Brea Beal (5.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game), Victaria Saxton (5.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game) and Laeticia Amihere (6.4 points per game).

Suiting up for UConn is 2021 AP national player of the year and Minnesota native Paige Bueckers (14.6 points and four assists per game), who has returned to form in the tournament after her knee surgery in December. Bueckers will be backed by 2021 No. 1 overall recruit Azzi Fudd (12.5 points per game), Christyn Williams (14.6 points and 2.3 assists per game), Evina Westbrook (nine points and 3.2 assists per game) and Aaliyah Edwards (7.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game).

Game Information

No. 2 UConn (30-5, 16-1 Big East) vs. No. 1 South Carolina (34-2, 15-1 SEC)

When: Sunday, April 3 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Target Center in Minneapolis, MN

How to watch: ESPN

Key to the matchup: UConn’s guards vs. South Carolina’s guards. While it’s very doubtful that the Huskies will have an answer for Boston in the paint, on the perimeter is where it gets very interesting. Bueckers and Fudd are capable of driving to the paint, shooting and passing with their speed and reflexes on the ball. Henderson and Cooke are not only capable scorers, but lockdown defenders as well. So what this game will come down to for both teams is the ability of their guards to consistently be involved on offense.