The South Carolina Gamecocks continue their road through the NCAA Tournament tonight with a stop in Minneapolis for the Final Four, meeting up with the Louisville Cardinals for the chance at a spot in the national championship game.
The Cardinals, who are a fellow No. 1 seed and also appearing in their fourth Final Four, are here by virtue of a 62-50 victory over third-seeded Michigan in the Elite Eight. Louisville also dispatched 16-seed Albany, No. 9 Gonzaga, and fourth-seeded Tennessee along the way.
To counter South Carolina star Aliyah Boston, Louisville will showcase guard Hailey Van Lith, who was named the Wichita Region’s most outstanding player. She’s put up 20-point performances in all four of UL’s games thus far, averaging 21.5 points in the tournament. Forward Emily Engslter is another player to watch, as she is putting up 13.5 points, 11 rebounds, 4.8 steals, 2.5 assists and two blocks in the first four tournament games — and will likely draw Boston as her defensive assignment.
Two areas of strength for Louisville — and of concern for South Carolina — are turnovers and 3-point shooting. The Cardinals have harassed opponents into 21 turnovers per game (54 steals) through the tournament, and sport a 36 percent effort from 3, which is good for 16th nationally.
The Gamecocks, though, remain the nation’s toughest defense, and also lead the country in rebounding by a healthy margin (17.9 boards per game). USC is first nationally on the offensive glass as well, which has helped the Gamecocks weather some uneven offensive outings.
South Carolina and Louisville have something of a history together, as both programs were members of the long defunct Metro Conference, with the Gamecocks holding a 17-4 series edge. The most recent time the teams squared off was in 2016, when South Carolina beat the Cardinals 83-59 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge.
Tip off is at 7 p.m. on ESPN.