South Carolina and UConn crowned NCAA March Madness champions

The men’s and women’s NCAA March Madness tournament officially wrapped up for the 2024 season, concluding in a win for the University of South Carolina’s women’s team and the University of Connecticut (UConn)’s men’s team. 

Much like every year, this year’s tournament garnered a lot of media attention, specifically around key players from both the women’s and men’s tournament. All having enjoyed very successful college basketball careers up until this point, it seems players like Caitlin Clark, Zach Edey, Kamilla Cardoso and Tristen Newton have all truly stepped into the media spotlight throughout the course of this tournament. 

Clark’s impact on college basketball has made her a household name throughout her entire career at the University of Iowa, especially this season. Although the team did not secure the win in the final against South Carolina, Clark and the rest of the Hawkeyes had an incredible run. 

Clark’s impact on college basketball truly cannot be overstated. She became the NCAA Division I all-time scoring leader and sixth top scorer for college basketball’s all-division all-time scoring, closing out this season with an extraordinary 3,951 career points. She has consistently averaged over 30 points per game, finishing her final collegiate basketball game against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the March Madness final with 30 points. 

On Monday, Clark became the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft, going to the Indiana Fever. Clark’s legacy at Iowa will live on, as they have officially retired her jersey number for only the third time in program history. 

Purdue’s Edey has also made headlines throughout his career as a Boilermaker and especially in his senior season this year. Standing at 7 feet, 4 inches, Edey has made a name for himself as an extremely dominant player. Like Clark, Edey also led in points and rebounds amongst all Division I players this season, taking Purdue to the Final Four for the first time since 1969

Edey has also been named Naismith Player of the Year a rare two years in a row. He will not take advantage of his last year of eligibility to play at Purdue and looks forward to the NBA draft this June. Edey’s dominance in college basketball is irrefutable, which will hopefully carry him into a successful NBA career wherever he ends up. 

Cardoso led the Gamecocks to the win in the women’s tournament. As she was selected third overall by the Chicago Sky, Cardoso leaves behind a very successful college career. Finishing off with a Championship title and being named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Cardoso joins a Sky team that lost in the first round of the 2023 WNBA playoffs.

Louisiana State’s Angel Reese, who has also picked up significant media attention throughout this season, will join Cardoso in Chicago after being selected seventh overall..

Also leading their team into the Championship title was UConn’s Newton. Newton has secured the spot as the team’s leading scorer with 15 points per game and 6.1 assists. Previously with East Carolina, Newton’s skillset has grown even stronger in his time at UConn, a program with back to back championship titles for the men’s team under its belt. 

Newton had originally declared for the 2023 NBA draft, but ultimately pulled out to play one more season at UConn. His final season at UConn has made him an even more impressive and appealing player for teams. He is projected to be a potential second-round draft pick in the NBA draft. 

With all of the media hype around Clark and Cardoso and the rest of their respective extremely talented teams, the South Carolina-Iowa final matchup for the women’s tournament was the most highly viewed basketball game since 2019, with nearly 19 million viewers tuned in on Sunday. It was also the first time ever the women’s final reached more viewers than the men’s.


Featured photo courtesy of @GamecockWBB, X