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Must-see TV: Clark, South Carolina headline women's NCAA tournament

Mar. 21—If you are filling out a March Madness bracket for the women's NCAA tournament this year you're probably either going all-in on Caitlin Clark and Iowa or the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks.

An undefeated national championship campaign has not been accomplished since the 2015-16 season by the University of Connecticut. Before that, it was UConn again in the 2013-14 season. It's only been done nine times in the history of women's basketball. Six of those were by the Huskies, and once each for Texas, for Baylor and for Tennessee.

There's one consistent similarity from all of these teams. A legendary coach in the women's game was leading most of them. Tennessee's head coach was Pat Summitt, Baylor's was Kim Mulkey (now at Louisiana State) and the head coach for all of UConn's perfect seasons was Geno Auriemma.

If South Carolina and head coach Dawn Staley want to join that elite group and make it a 10th time overall and first time in program history, it will have to reach 38 wins. The Gamecocks are currently 32-0 and have an SEC championship under their belt.

So, who are you taking? One of the greatest shooters in all of college basketball — men's and women's — or the potential perfect season?

Here are my thoughts:

CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHUP

NCAA set it up this way on purpose. Iowa and South Carolina are on opposite sides of the bracket and can meet in the championship game if it unfolds that way.

But the committee also set it up to where Iowa and LSU will have to meet in the Elite Eight as a rematch of last year's national championship game.

No. 1 seed South Carolina will have a couple close games against No. 2 seed Notre Dame in the Elite Eight and No. 1 seed Texas in the Final Four, but I have the Gamecocks in the title game.

I'm predicting a few small upsets on the other side. I have No. 1 Iowa going down and No. 3 LSU in the Sweet 16. That opens the door for No. 3 UConn to reach the finals. I have the Huskies knocking off No. 1 Southern California in the Elite Eight and then getting past No. 2 UCLA in the Final Four to meet South Carolina.

I have the Gamecocks finishing the perfect season and joining elite company.

FINAL FOUR

As I already revealed, No. 1 seed Texas and second-seeded UCLA will be my other teams joining South Carolina and UConn in the Final Four.

I think Texas plays in a very deep and tough Big 12 conference and will be able to fight through some tough games against teams like No. 5 Utah and No. 2 Stanford. The Longhorns will even test South Carolina to the wire.

I think with a legendary coach like Auriemma and the top-tier scoring ability of Paige Bueckers, the Huskies can pull off the big wins necessary to reach the Final Four.

There are four other teams to keep an eye on as national championship candidates. First is USC and leader JuJu Watkins. Watkins, a freshman, is second in the country with 27 points per game.

I think the only candidate in Regional 1 is South Carolina. No one is knocking them off inside that region. Regional 3 will belong to UConn or USC. The next team to keep an eye on is in Regional 4 with Texas.

Also, keep your eye on Stanford in this tournament. The Cardinal have three starters averaging double figures this year and are led by a duo that averages 18 ppg apiece in Cameron Brink and Kiki Iriafen. If they can get by Texas in Regional 4 they're in the Final Four.

Regional 2 is the deepest in my opinion. I like second-seeded UCLA to make it as I already mentioned. But I can't act like top-seeded Iowa in the region doesn't have a chance along with third-seeded LSU. Mulkey and Angel Reese could lead the Tigers back to a championship again this year. Same with Clark and Iowa.

BAD LUCK

I like Virginia Tech and the roster they've had the past two years with an elite guard in Georgia Amoore and one of the country's best post players in 6-foot-6 senior Elizabeth Kitley.

The Hokies have run into bad luck as Kitley's late-season injury has turned into a torn ACL and she will not be playing in the tournament at all. VT is a No. 4 seed and will have a tough matchup with fifth-seeded Baylor if it happens to win its first-round game without Kitley.