Women's College Basketball
What to watch for in UConn-South Carolina showdown on FOX
Women's College Basketball

What to watch for in UConn-South Carolina showdown on FOX

Updated Feb. 5, 2023 6:21 p.m. ET

Sunday's matchup between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 5 Connecticut could be a Final Four preview. It could be a chance for Dawn Staley to show Geno Auriemma there is a new ruler of college basketball. 

And it could be a chance for UConn to once again stake a claim to dominance.

Fans can tune into FOX on Sunday to see how the drama unfolds.

Here's what to watch for in the big game.


No. 1 South Carolina at No. 5 UConn: Sunday, 12 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app

The undefeated top-ranked Gamecocks may be the best team in the country, but they face a huge roast test on Sunday. South Carolina (22-0) heads to XL Center in a national championship rematch against No. 5 UConn. The Huskies will be the first ranked opponent Staley’s team has faced since beating No. 15 UCLA on Nov. 29.

South Carolina is currently on a program-best 27-game winning streak — can the Gamecocks keep it going in one of the sport’s more intimidating venues? UConn, meanwhile, has dealt with multiple player injuries this season, including stars Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd, as well as Carolina Ducharme and Ice Brady. Head coach Auriemma has had his own health issues following his mother’s death in December and missed multiple games while feeling "under the weather and run down," he said in a previous statement last month. 

And yet, the Huskies are still one of the best teams in the country (21-2) with a seven- or eight-player rotation. How have they been able to sustain through this much adversity? It helps when players like Aaliyah Edwards (averaging 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game) step up. There’s also the mental toughness aspect, which is a testament to the culture that Auriemma has built at UConn.

Staley’s group hasn’t had it quite as rough in the SEC — granted, they haven’t had to play No. 3 LSU yet, the only other ranked team in the conference. Reigning Naismith Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Aliyah Boston is making her case to win those accolades again (12.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG). In the Gamecocks’ 65-52 win over Alabama last week, Boston posted the following stat line: 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting, 12 rebounds and four blocks. How will a depleted Husky roster possibly handle her? That’s going to be a huge question in Sunday’s matchup.

While UConn would certainly prefer to have its star players back in the lineup, this final stretch of the regular season is providing the available players with incredible experience before the NCAA tournament begins. And it will be a glimpse into March for a team that, even as depleted as it is, could still make a Final Four run.

The Gamecocks need to take advantage of this moment. Beating UConn in Storrs, with or without a full Husky roster, would be a huge coup before finishing out the regular season, which features that matchup against Kim Mulkey’s Tigers.

Repeating as national champions is a tough ask — only three teams in the history of the sport have ever done it — USC, Tennessee and UConn (multiple times). But South Carolina has the talent to do it. In addition to Boston, teammates Zia Cooke, Brea Beal, Kamilla Cardoso and Laeticia Amihere make this thing go. They also somehow have an even more dominant defense than last year, holding opponents to 46.0 PPG and averaging a nation-best 9.7 blocks.

Nothing is impossible when it comes to UConn, but it’s going to be challenging for a tired Husky team to overtake the defending national champs this time.

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of "Strong Like a Woman," published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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