What a Ride

This has been a breakout year for women's college basketball. If there's a word to describe what has led to this particular moment, it's "and."

Yes, Caitlin Clark is a generational talent. AND last season ending with Clark and Angel Reese's competition caught the attention of the nation. AND the attention has been snowball, creating an echo chamber in the best of ways of support for the sport. AND the Worldwide Leader is pushing the game like they never have before. AND women's ball is only two years into getting to use the March Madness branding. AND there's parity at the top of the sport unlike ever before, such that there are no foregone conclusions, only exciting games. 

The season also couldn't have stacked up much better. The Elite Eight gave Iowa a rematch against their foe in last year's national championship, LSU. Coming off of an injured season, UConn standout Paige Bueckers played with the chance to put a perennial power back into the championship  South Carolina entered with the chance to cap off an undefeated season. The championship ended up with a player that's already having GOAT penciled in next to her name against a burgeoning dynasty in South Carolina. Both the regional final between Iowa and LSU and the Final Four matchup between Iowa and UConn set viewership records for basketball - not college basketball, not women's basketball - but basketball period - on ESPN. 

The championship game lived up to its billing. Iowa jumped out to an early lead, but after a close game throughout, South Carolina just couldn't be denied. The Gamecocks notched their second in three years in what was widely regarded to be a rebuilding year, and Dawn Staley continues to assert her presence as one of the game's greats.

Women's college hoops has some decisions ahead. This past year, they re-upped their TV contract in conjunction with the other college sports besides football and men's basketball, after some conversation around seeking a contract without the other sports. Next time around, women's hoops may stand on their own. Structurally, do the early rounds move off of campuses and to neutral sites, like the men's game? Do they move the championship into primetime, rather than tipping before church is even out on the west coast? 

There is a ton of talent headed to the WNBA this year, but the future is bright for the college game, with returning players all the way down to the current freshman class that will keep the game exciting 

But most of all, this year's been a ton of fun. In out short attention span society, this season has unquestionably been a moment. Here's hoping it remains as a movement.