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NCAA Women’s Tournament Elite 8: UConn vs. USC Future Stars Battle for Final Four Ticket

Baylor v USC

(Photo : (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)) PORTLAND, OREGON – MARCH 30: JuJu Watkins #12 of the USC Trojans dribbles during the first half against the Baylor Lady Bears in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 30, 2024 in Portland, Oregon.

A star-studded matchup in Portland tonight!

The second game of the NCAA Women’s Tournament Elite 8 would put the No.3 UConn Huskies against the No.1 USC Trojans. 

The spotlight will be on two of the brightest stars in college basketball, USC’s JuJu Watkins and UConn’s Paige Bueckers

USC star freshman JuJu Watkins has burst onto the scene in averaging 27.0 points per game, which is best for second in the nation behind Iowa’s Caitlin Clark.

Now with USC’s first Elite 8 appearance since 1994, Watkins will have her hands full going up against the UConn basketball juggernaut.  

Paige Bueckers, a former National Player of the Year in her own right, has taken UConn to the Final Four twice, including a trip to a National Title game.

Bueckers has battled through two injured seasons, including one that forced her to miss the entire 2023 season. 

She has looked brilliant since returning to the national stage averaging 20 points per game during the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

Paige Bueckers will be looking for another win tonight, leading the Huskies back to another Final Four match.

Related Article: NCAA Women’s Tournament: Hawkeyes Caitlin Clark and Tigers Angel Reese in a Dual of Fate

NCAA Women’s Tournament Elite 8 UConn vs. USC: Two Teams Hot at the Right Time

(Portland Regional 3)

Time: 9:00 PM 

Network: ESPN 

The UConn Huskies have gotten past an excellent Duke team in a 53-45 win. 

USC also took care of business against Baylor with a 74-70 win behind JuJu Watkins’ 28 points, despite her shooting poorly; finishing 8-for-28 from the field. 

Still, the experience might play a role in the contest between UConn and USC. The Trojans, despite their No.1 Seed, are the underdogs coming into tonight’s matchup. 

The Huskies have Paige Bueckers, Aaliyah Edwards, and Nika Muhl; all who have experience playing late in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. These three players were all featured on the UConn 2021 and 2022 Final Four teams.

The USC Trojans do have some experience playing against elite-level clubs. They spent most of their time in the Pac-12, mixing it up with teams like UCLA and Stanford, two teams that are of the best in the nation.

However, UConn will be a real test for the Trojans, who finished the season going (29-5).

USC does have all the momentum going into tonight’s game, going on 15-1 since February with a loss only to Utah.

Since January 31st, UConn has had its own 15-1 win tally as well. However, the Huskies have suffered significant losses to teams like UCLA, Texas, and Notre Dame throughout the season. 

Read More: NCAA Tournament Player Profile: Zach Edey Dominants in Purdue’s Championship Run

NCAA Women’s Tournament Elite 8 UConn vs. USC: Injured Huskies 

UConn’s depth may also be a cause for concern. During the season, they lost a key piece in Aubrey Griffin, who sustained a torn ACL earlier in the season and has been taken out for the entire season.

Guard Azzi Fudd also went down with a season-ending knee injury, and Jana El Alfy went down during the preseason with an Achilles tendon injury. 

The Huskies still found a way to manage in getting wins behind head coach Geno Auriemma; although it may become too difficult to rely on starters who have played heavy minutes throughout the season.

Read More: NBA MVP Candidates: Four-Way Fight to Close Out the Season

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