South Carolina basketball advances to National Championship, one win from history

South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley led her team past the NC State Wolfpack on Friday night, and the Gamecocks are just one win away from making history
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball knocked off the NC State Wolfpack on Friday night by a score of 78-59 to advance to the NCAA Tournament National Championship Game on Sunday. They beat former Gamecock Saniya Rivers and a Wolfpack team that surprised many by making it to the Final Four. The win puts USC in line for a Sunday date with either Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes or Paige Bueckers and the UConn Huskies for the title.

A deeper dive into the win over NC State will come later, but for now, let's take a look at the history the Gamecocks will continue chasing on Sunday.

South Carolina basketball is just one win away from an undefeated season. A 0 in the loss column has only happened nine other times in women's college basketball history as UConn (6x), Tennessee, Texas, and Baylor are the only programs to accomplish the feat.

Speaking of UConn, Tennessee, and Baylor, those three programs and the Stanford Cardinal are the only 3-time national champs in women's college basketball. A South Carolina win on Sunday will put them tied for 3rd all-time (with Baylor and Stanford), behind only UConn's 11 and Tennessee's 8.

If Dawn Staley gets her third ring, she will join UConn's Geno Auriemma, Tennessee's Pat Summitt, Stanford's Tara VanDerveer, and Baylor/LSU's Kim Mulkey as the only coaches to win three national championships.

South Carolina basketball was the clear NCAA Tournament favorite at the end of the 2019-2020 regular season, but Covid-19 canceled the postseason. Even so, the Gamecocks have a chance to win a 2nd title in three years (something that has only happened for UConn, Tennessee, Stanford, and Southern Cal) and a 3rd title in eight years (something that has only been done by UConn and Tennessee). As they finished the shortened season at #1 in the polls, another championship would give USC its 4th #1 finish in 8 years, something only ever accomplished by UConn and Tennessee.

A championship win for the Gamecocks would move the South Carolina basketball program into a tie with the Baylor Bears for the most National Championship wins without a loss in the championship game as both programs would be 3-0 in NCAA Tournament Finals.

If Carolina were to beat Iowa in the National Championship, it would give the Gamecocks the dubious distinction of keeping the potential GOAT Caitlin Clark completely ringless during her career. If they were to knock off UConn, instead, South Carolina basketball would join the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as the only programs ever to beat UConn in multiple Final Fours.

With a win, Dawn Staley would join Geno Auriemma and Pat Summit as the only coaches to win 3 titles before the age of 56 (Staley is just 53). A win also would mean that she owns over 50% of the South Carolina basketball program's all-time NCAA wins (440 wins in 16 years with Staley; 429 wins in 27 years before Staley). She also has 41 NCAA Tournament wins at South Carolina, a remarkable number compared to the 9 Gamecock tourney wins that happened before Staley.

Sunday's National Championship Game will tip off at 3:00 and will be broadcast on ABC and streamable on the ESPN app. The Gamecocks will play the winner of UConn and Iowa who are playing right now on ESPN.

South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks put two more on All-American teams. dark. Next. South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks put two more on All-American teams