While UConn-Stanford may be the main event at the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four, the undercard bout isn’t too shabby, either. A pair of No. 1 seeds will go toe-to-toe when the South Carolina Gamecocks take on the Louisville Cardinals to tip off the Final Four. The games will get underway on Friday night from Target Center in Minneapolis.
Louisville sits at 29-4 so far this season, and they’re ranked No. 4 in the nation. Like South Carolina, Louisville also suffered a surprising two-point defeat in their conference tournament when they fell at the hands of Miami. The Cardinals lost two of their final five games of the season, but they have gotten back on track since the NCAA Tournament began.
While UConn and Stanford routinely generate most of the women’s basketball headlines, South Carolina has developed into a powerhouse in recent years. This is the Gamecocks’ fourth Final Four appearance, all of which have come since 2015. South Carolina is in search of its second national title after winning it all in 2017. Louisville, meanwhile, has never won a women’s basketball championship. The Cardinals advanced to the national title games in 2009 and 2013, only to fall both times to UConn. This is the Cardinals’ fourth appearance in the Final Four, and first since 2018.
Despite both teams boasting No. 1 seeds in this one, oddsmakers over at BetOnline have this South Carolina listed as sizable favorites. The Gamecocks are solid eight-point favorites over the Cardinals, which is a bit surprising at this late stage of the competition.
South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina fell short of making it to the national title game last year. The Gamecocks were beaten by Stanford in the Final Four. All year long, South Carolina’s goal has been to make amends for last year’s shortcomings. So far, so good.
The top-ranked Gamecocks haven’t run into much resistance in the NCAA Tournament so far this year. They overwhelmed Howard by a whopping 58 points in the round-of-64 before an impressive 16-point triumph at the expense of No. 8 Miami in the second round. The Gamecocks narrowly edged North Carolina in a battle of the Carolinas in the Sweet 16. Aliyah Boston, the heart and soul of this South Carolina team, posted a game for the ages in that one. The 6’5″ junior put 28 points on the board along with 22 rebounds in a personal demolition of the Tar Heels.
Boston followed that up with a 19-point, seven-rebound showing in the Gamecocks’ easy 30-point win over No. 10 Creighton in the Elite Eight. On the season, Boston is averaging 16.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game on blistering 54.2 percent shooting from the field.
Carolina put just 49 points on the board in their second-round win over Miami on woeful 29.5 percent shooting from the field. Fortunately, the Hurricanes were even worse, shooting under 24 percent on their way to just 33 points in that one.
Trying to get offense going against Louisville won’t be easy. The Cardinals play a high-pressure style of defense with an expertise in forcing turnovers.
Louisville made quick work of Tennessee and Michigan from there. The Cardinals disposed of the Lady Vols by 12 points in the Sweet Sixteen before another 12-point win over Michigan in the last round.
Louisville’s offense is led by Hailey Van Lith, who led the Cardinals with an average of 14.5 points during the regular season. Emily Engstler, who led the Cardinals with an average of nearly 10 rebounds per game on the year, will have her hands full defensively against Boston in this one. Engstler is four inches shorter than Boston, so Louisville may have a tough time keeping South Carolina’s star forward off the boards on Friday night.
Engstler is no slouch on the glass, however. The Cardinals’ senior leader has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in each of the team’s last three tournament games, including a massive 16-rebound effort in the win over the Wolverines in the Elite Eight.
Gamecocks vs. Cardinals Women’s Final Four Game Pick
Louisville is a nice story, but all signs point to South Carolina having a fairly easy time of it in this one. The Cardinals have benefited from a fairly easy run to the Final Four, but they’re not at all equipped to handle the size of the Gamecocks’ frontcourt.
Boston, who was just named AP National Player of the Year on Thursday, should have her way offensively in this one. I like the value on South Carolina to win and cover against an overmatched Louisville side. The Gamecocks will play for the national championship on Sunday.
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Louisville Cardinals Betting Recap
- Moneyline: South Carolina Gamecocks -380, Louisville +310
- Point Spread: South Carolina Gamecocks -8 (-110), Louisville Cardinals +8 (-110)
- Over/Under: Over 119.5 points (-110), Under 119.5 points (-110)
- Pick: South Carolina -8 (-110)