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Game preview: South Carolina squares off against top-seeded UConn with Final Four berth on the line

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You knew it would come down to this.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 seed South Carolina (29-6) vs. No. 1 seed Connecticut (35-0)

Start time: 7 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Live stream: watchespn.com

Live audio: 107.5 FM (Columbia)

How they got here

UConn is not exactly a program that needs an introduction, but here’s a quick one anyway: As the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the unbeaten Huskies steamrolled their way through the regular season and to the AAC championship, and have continued crushing the competition in the NCAAs: 140-52 over St. Francis (Pa.), 71-46 over Quinnipiac, and 72-59 over Duke. Mississippi State stunned UConn in the Final Four last season, but the Huskies look as ready as ever to challenge for another national title.

All-time series

UConn leads 6-0, with its most recent victory coming in Columbia earlier this season. The Gamecocks were buried 83-58, largely owing to a huge second quarter for the Huskies that proved too much to overcome. Bianca Jackson was the South Carolina standout, scoring 20 points and making three of her five 3-pointers, and A’ja Wilson posted a 14-point, 16-rebound double-double.

What to watch for

Going up against the sport’s best, the Gamecocks absolutely can’t afford to play as sloppy as they have at points in this tournament. A 26-turnover performance like the one versus Buffalo would quickly doom South Carolina against UConn, since the Huskies won’t be intimidated by the Gamecocks’ size or athleticism.

UConn’s Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams dominated South Carolina back in February, with Nurse scoring a game-high 23 points and shooting 50% from 3-point range, and Williams grabbing 14 rebounds to match her 14 points. Katie Lou Samuelson (20) and Napheesa Collier (19) were also in double figures for the Huskies.

While it’s unfortunate the Gamecocks were put on this collision course with UConn in the Elite 8 and not in later stages of the tournament, it’s still an opportunity for South Carolina to prove itself. Although the Gamecocks now have a national title to their name, they still haven’t managed to topple Goliath. A win against the Huskies would be an incredible statement, and would help cement South Carolina as a power in the sport.