LSU and UConn Finish as March Madness Champions

Women’s Championship

Sunday, April 2 saw Iowa guard Caitlyn Clark’s magical run come to an end as the Louisiana State University Tigers defeated the University of Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. LSU, the betting underdog by three and a half points, rose to the occasion by hitting 11 three-pointers – tied for their most in a game this season. The 9.9 million average viewers shattered the previous record of 5.7 million for an NCAA women’s tournament game, showing that women’s basketball is finally gaining the larger recognition it deserves.

LSU’s victory marks their first national title in women’s basketball and comes as a result of their strong all-around team performance. After going up 33-32 early in the second quarter, the Tigers never forfeited their lead for the rest of the game and put up an astounding 102 points. Senior guard Jasmine Carson may have been the difference in this game – coming off the bench to add 22 points with 7 three-pointers. Sophomore forward Angel Reese and senior guard Alexis Morris also added textbook performances, with 15 and 21 points respectively.

LSU deserves its flowers, but let’s talk about Caitlyn Clark. The Hawkeyes superstar grabbed headlines by stacking incredible performances throughout the tournament. Clark averaged over 30 points per game during March Madness – a feat we may never see a player do again. She was responsible for 63% of Iowa’s offense through scoring and assisting, and her tournament point total of 191 was the most in either women’s or men’s NCAA tournament history. Her most impressive game came against the University of Louisville in the Elite Eight, where she shocked the world with a 40-point triple-double – the first of its kind in an NCAA tournament. 

Clark maintained her excellent play in the championship, scoring 30 points with 8 three-pointers and adding eight assists. The Iowa native may have been the best player in the championship, but LSU was the more complete team. LSU coach Kim Mulkey also deserves credit, and has now become the first coach to win a national title with two different teams. Mulkey previously won three national titles with Baylor before moving to LSU two years ago. The women’s game is now in a stronger place than ever after such an intriguing national championship. 

Men’s Championship

The University of Connecticut Huskies bested the San Diego State University Aztecs in a 76-57 win in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship late night Monday, April 3. This matchup was the first national title game between a No. 4 and No. 5 seed in history – which is fitting for a tournament year with so many upsets. UConn closed the championship in dominant fashion, as they had been doing all tournament long. The Huskies had an average 20-point margin of victory in March, and beat every opponent by double-digit points throughout the tournament.

After a low scoring first half in favor of UConn 36-24, the game was still in anyone’s hands. SDSU did a great job defensively (as they had been all tournament long) holding UConn to 36 points, but were frankly horrible offensively. In fact, the Aztecs went 11 minutes without a made field goal from 16:34 to 5:26 – which is not going to cut it in a national title game. 

UConn looked in control throughout the game, and continued to come up with clutch baskets. SDSU managed to find somewhat of a spark coming out of the first half, and narrowed UConn’s lead to 56-50 with seven minutes left in the game. Down the stretch, however, the Aztecs continued to struggle offensively. San Diego finished the game shooting a dire 32.2% from the field and 26.1% from three. The result ended with UConn winning 76-57.

UConn has now added its fifth national title in 25 years, and is showing it deserves credit as a blue-blood program. Senior guard Tristen Newton led the scoring for the Huskies adding 19 points with 10 rebounds. Junior big-man Adam Sanogo also offered a textbook game with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Sanogo was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, averaging 18.6 points per game during March.