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NCAA women’s basketball championship open thread

No NaLyssa Smith or Rhyne Howard, but South Carolina and UConn are the top two programs left in the women’s tournament.

Louisville v South Carolina
Destanni Henderson is projected to be a first round pick in the 2022 WNBa Draft.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship game is tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN as the South Carolina Gamecocks (34-2) take on the Connecticut Huskies (30-5).

South Carolina is looking to win their second national championship overall and first since 2017 under head coach Dawn Staley who was the USA Basketball women’s national team head coach for the 2020 Olympics. Their top expected 2022 WNBA Draft prospect is senior point guard Destanni Henderson (11.1 ppg, 3.9 apg). She has been a projected first round pick in some WNBA mock drafts but isn’t likely to be a lottery pick. The Washington Mystics have the No. 1 selection.

The Gamecocks’ top star is junior forward Aliyah Boston who is averaging 17.0 ppg and 12.4 rpg. Her birth date is on Dec. 11, 2001, so she is ineligible to declare for the draft under any circumstances.

The Huskies are the best women’s college basketball program of all-time where they have won 11 national championships and have made 14 consecutive Final Fours since 2008. They haven’t won the championship since 2016 however. That was when Breanna Stewart was their centerpiece.

UConn’s top 2022 draft prospect is Christyn Williams, who is averaging 14.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Evina Westbrook (9 ppg, 3.2 apg) is another senior who could be a first-round selection. But like Henderson, Williams and Westbrook are more likely going to be picked in the latter half of the first round than in the lottery. Their top star is sophomore Paige Bueckers (14.6 ppg. 3.9 rpg), who missed about half of the middle of this season due to injury. Bueckers can’t go pro until at least next year when she turns 22.

The DraftKings Sportsbook odds favor South Carolina with a spread of -4. The two teams met this season on Nov. 22, 2021, at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas when the Gamecocks won 73-57.

May the best team win!