Sport: South Carolina ushers in newest dynasty in college basketball | Opinion

NBA Power Rankings: Suns hold on to top spot, Celtics climb to second

  NBA Power Rankings: Suns hold on to top spot, Celtics climb to second Boston is the hottest team in the East and a legit contender. 1. Suns (58-14, Last Week No. 1). Phoenix has gone 10-4 without Chris Paul (and Devin Booker missed some games in there as well) and is about to get the Point God back for a final push to lock up the best record in the NBA and home-court throughout the playoffs. The Suns’ magic number to lock up the best record is one — they are nine games better than the team with the second-best record (Grizzlies).

MINNEAPOLIS -- How fitting that South Carolina’s title came at UConn’s expense. A new dynasty, ushered in over the old.

In winning its second title in six years Sunday, South Carolina handed UConn its first loss in 12 national championship games. Had it not been for the tournament cancellation in 2020, and last-second misses in last year’s national semifinal, this could be three in a row for the Gamecocks.

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And next year is likely to be more of the same. National player of the year Aliyah Boston, Brea Beal and Zia Cooke all return, and South Carolina will also get back freshman phenom Raven Johnson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in mid-November.

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For years, decades really, UConn has been the standard by which every other team measured itself, a dynasty in every sense of the word. Its 11 titles are a record, and it has the two longest winning streaks in Division I college basketball. Some of the biggest names in the game – Taurasi, Bird, Moore, Stewart – played for UConn.

South Carolina's Destanni Henderson goes up for a jumper against UConn in the first half. © Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports South Carolina's Destanni Henderson goes up for a jumper against UConn in the first half.

Video: Final Four: Will UNC have encore legendary performance against Kansas in title game? (SMG)

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But no reign lasts forever, and college basketball is no different.

South Carolina was the best team all year, ranked No. 1 since the preseason. Boston picked up pretty much every honor there is, and Dawn Staley was named coach of the year. Their defense was so stifling, so unrelenting, boa constrictors would approve.

Asked before the Final Four whether the Gamecocks needed to win to validate their spectacular season, Staley said no.

“Whoever it is that's standing -- the last team that's standing on Sunday night, it's divine order,” Staley said Thursday. “I truly believe that. So if it's not us, it's not us. We'll get another shot at it when it's our turn.”

Well, it’s South Carolina’s turn now. And maybe for many years to come.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: South Carolina ushers in newest dynasty in college basketball | Opinion

It's Jon Scheyer's time to lead Duke men's basketball. He's ready for the challenge .
Jon Scheyer is the first new Duke men's basketball coach since 1980 with Mike Krzyzewski retiring. It's a job he's ready to handle.“Coach K’s humor sort of surprises people,” said Collins, head coach at Northwestern for the last nine years and a 13-year assistant for Krzyzewski. “He’d always say to players that he was a true inner city Chicagoian, then say about me: ‘He’s not from real Chicago. He’s from the suburbs.’ Then he’d talk about knowing all these city streets and shortcuts. That same joke he’d use with me, he’d use with Jon.

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