This year in 2022 marked the first time that the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament was allowed to use the “March Madness” logo and brand as a form of advertisement– finally!!! The women’s tournament completely lived up to the “March Madness” name – a name that brings much excitement, bracket-breaking disappointments, and close games.
The First round of the women’s basketball tournament boasted two HBCU teams: Jackson State and Howard – both of them entering into the tournament as the 14th and 16th seed, respectively. While both of these teams were eliminated in the first round, it’s of note to mention that these two teams broke a HUGE barrier in the NCAA by being HBCU teams selected for the tournament–one that is dominated by PWIs basketball programs. Jackson State even kept the game close to LSU, only losing by six points (83-77).
When I say close, I mean close. Let us not forget that in that game a Jackson State women’s basketball player proceeded to dunk, with a slight rim-han, in the middle of a game…… YES, she dunked.
This year’s tournament caused much excitement for the state of Mississippi with the Ole Miss Rebels being invited to the tournament for the first time since 2007. Unfortunately, the seventh ranked Ole Miss Rebels were defeated in an upset game by the tenth ranked South Dakota Coyotes (75-61). South Dakota then went on to survive until the Sweet Sixteen where they lost to the third ranked Michigan (52-49).
Perhaps the most electrifying part of the NCAA Tournament for me has been watching Aliyah Boston, the six-foot-five forward from South Carolina, who was recently the Naismith Player of the Year as well as Defensive Player of the Year. She led the Gamecocks in average scoring and rebounds (16.8 PPG and 12.2 RPG) with 87 total blocks during the regular season. Her game against UNC for the Sweet Sixteen marked her 27th double double (for scoring and rebounds), where she led her team in scoring and rebounds with 28 points and 22 rebounds.
This tournament has brought much press, buzz, and endorsements to several women’s players including Paige Bueckers (UConn), Hailey Van Lith (Louisville), Zia Cooke (South Carolina), and Azzi Fudd (UConn)– all whose teams made it into the Final Four. The current Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy adopted by the NCAA in 2021 has aided in the promotion of not only these players, but also the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament as a whole. It’s really great to see these players be recognized by businesses and organizations as athletes worthy of respect, time, investment, and compensation. It’s really putting collegiate women’s/female athletes on the map.
The 2022 Women’s Tournament has been a very entertaining one and has taught mainstream media very important lessons:
Don’t sleep on women’s basketball.
Don’t underestimate the underdog.
Respect female hoopers.
Sunday, April 3rd, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks became the 2022 NCAA Women’s Tournament champions! No matter who you rooted for, after watching this season, you have to agree: it was a hard-earned win.
“Alexa, play ‘Basketball’ by Kurtis Blow… cause these girls sholl hooping”