How to watch No. 1 South Carolina women’s basketball vs. UCLA in NCAA Tournament
Two down and four to go.
The undefeated South Carolina women’s basketball team continues its push for a national championship repeat with Saturday’s Sweet 16 game against UCLA at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville.
USC, the No. 1 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, beat No. 16 seed Norfolk State and No. 8 USF last weekend in Columbia by a combined 63 points. No. 4 UCLA, meanwhile, beat No. 13 Sacramento State and No. 5 Oklahoma last weekend in Los Angeles to make for a high-stakes regional semifinal matchup. Here’s what you need to know.
South Carolina vs. UCLA game info
Who: No. 1 South Carolina (34-0) vs. No. 4 UCLA (27-9)
Where: Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Stream: Via ESPN or the ESPN app
Next up: The winner of South Carolina-UCLA will advance to an Elite Eight game on Monday, March 27 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena at 7 p.m. to face the winner of Saturday’s Maryland-Notre Dame game.
No. 1 team in familiar territory
Being an elite team and playing within driving distance of a popular host site for the SEC and NCAA tournaments certainly has its perks.
Just ask South Carolina. When the Gamecocks tip off against UCLA, it’ll mark the seventh-straight game they’ve played within the friendly confines of their home state — and, it’s safe to assume, in front of a notably pro-USC crowd.
South Carolina played (and won) at Tennessee on Feb. 23. Since then, coach Dawn Staley’s squad has played in Columbia (Senior Day), Greenville (three SEC Tournament games), Columbia (two NCAA Tournament games) and … Greenville (Saturday’s Sweet 16).
“You walk through and you see familiar faces and you say hello and you have conversations with them,” Staley said of playing in Greenville, which is hosting two NCAA regionals this weekend. “That is what feels comforting. Because I like to get to know the people who actually put these events on and make sure that they’re trying to give us a really great experience.”
Of course, that streak reaches eight games if USC beats UCLA and advances to Monday’s Elite Eight against No. 2 Maryland or No. 3 Notre Dame — and sets up a Final Four situation where South Carolina, with a win, would go 36 days between out-of-state games.
But a feisty UCLA team stands in the way.
UCLA enters with ‘confidence’
The statistics from UCLA’s Nov. 29 game at Colonial Life Arena are staggering: The Bruins were up by 10 points on South Carolina with 2:47 remaining in the second quarter, led the game for 24:51 of a possible 40 minutes and were tied with USC 47-47 after three quarters.
That result (ultimately a 73-64 loss) is one of the many reasons UCLA’s feeling confident heading into Saturday’s Sweet 16 game as 16.5-point betting underdog.
“Obviously with a team as talented and well-coached as South Carolina, and when you have a really young team — think we’re the youngest team in the field of 68 this year — I think that confidence factor (is big),” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “That we went into their building and had a very, very competitive game, I think there’s definitely a confidence that we come into the game with.”
The Bruins’ dynamic guards Charisma Osborne (15.9 points per game) and Kiki Rice (11.9 points per game) are the headliners, but UCLA has five more players averaging between 9 and 5 points and is coming off its fourth-highest scoring game of the season (82 points) against Oklahoma.
The Bruins also tend to keep games close regardless: They’ve lost their nine games by 5.9 points on average (essentially, two possessions). Only one other team in Division I women’s basketball, Houston, has a better scoring margin in its losses (-4.9).
South Carolina vs. UCLA game notes
South Carolina’s final point margin against UCLA (+9) marked its fifth-closest win of the season behind UConn (+4), Stanford (+5), Mississippi State (+7) and Ole Miss (+7).
South Carolina is 7-0 in seven previous games against ranked opponents this year (most recently USF in the NCAA Tournament second round). UCLA ranked No. 17 in the final AP Top 25 and was No. 15 in the final coaches poll.
Including this season’s win, South Carolina is 3-1 all-time against UCLA. The Gamecocks lost in 1981 and won in 2015, 2016 and 2022. This is the programs’ first all-time NCAA Tournament meeting.
South Carolina is 3-3 all-time against No. 4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. USC’s most recent game against a 4 seed came in 2016 (a Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse).
This marks USC’s 12th all-time Sweet 16 appearance and ninth under Staley. USC is seeking its seventh all-time Elite Eight appearance (sixth under Staley).
This is UCLA’s fifth Sweet 16 appearance under coach Cori Close and first since 2019. The Bruins have reached the Elite Eight twice in program history (most recently 2018).
Gamecocks and Bruins players to watch
Victaria Saxton, F, South Carolina: Saxton doesn’t score a ton (5.1 points per game) but continues to provide consistent and valuable starter minutes for South Carolina. USC outscored USF by 32 points with Saxton on the court last week, tied for the best plus-minus on the team.
Bree Hall, G, South Carolina: Hall, a top rotational guard for South Carolina, has established herself as postseason spark plug. Her three points against Tennessee, six points against Norfolk State and seven points against South Florida were all crucial momentum swings.
Charisma Osborne, G, UCLA: Osborne, UCLA’s senior leading scorer, took it to another level with a career-high 36 points against Oklahoma in the second round (the most any single player has scored in the 2023 tournament). She shot 11-of-21 from the field and 12-of-12 on free throws.
Kiki Rice, G, UCLA: Rice, the nation’s No. 2 overall recruit per espnW, has dazzled as a freshman with 11.9 points per game. She had a career-high 22 against Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals and has gone for double digits in both of UCLA’s tournament games, too.
Sweet 16 game schedule this week
Listed by day/region
Greenville 2: Villanova vs. Miami, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Greenville 2: Utah vs. LSU, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Seattle 4: Iowa vs. Colorado, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Seattle 4: Louisville vs. Mississippi, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
Greenville 1: Maryland vs. Notre Dame, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Greenville 1: South Carolina vs. UCLA, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Seattle 3: UConn vs. Ohio St., 4 p.m. (ABC)
Seattle 3: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)