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Saturday Sports: College basketball final four

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I don't know how I'm going to contain myself. It's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Did you see the, yeah, final four? South Carolina defeated NC State 78 to 59 last night. In the last seconds, Iowa defeated UConn 71 to 69. (Chanting) Iow-A, Iow-A. And tonight, a ticket for the men's championship game is at stake. Oh, they're playing, too? Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Howard, how are you?

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. I'm sorry, I cannot match that energy right now. I'm going to do my best.

SIMON: Ah, well, you know...

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: ...I've been doing research late last night watching the game. Look...

BRYANT: Great game.

SIMON: ...The South Carolina Gamecocks are undefeated, and they're playing like it. I mean, what a game from Kamilla Cardoso, for example.

BRYANT: And they're hungry. I mean, this is a team that was supposed to win last year, or so they thought. They did not. They - you know, they wanted to get back to this championship game so badly, and they are here, and they did it in great fashion and a great run by NC State. You've got NC State on the...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...Men's side, you've got NC State on the women's side, and it was looking like, was Destiny going to take a hand here? And South Carolina said, no, destiny is not going to take a hand." Great team. This is the best team in the country, and they're going to play Iowa.

SIMON: (Chanting) Iow-A, Iow-A. Listen, Caitlin Clark stymied during the first quarter, but Iowa came roaring back and they held on against a great UConn team. Can I use two special words for two great supporting players?

BRYANT: Sure.

SIMON: Nika Muhl of UConn, and then Hannah Stuelke of Iowa. Really...

BRYANT: Yeah. And both played great. And that's what happens sometimes when you have these big matchups. Look, UConn did exactly what they were supposed to do. You can't let Caitlin Clark beat you, and if you're going to be a full-team Iowa, then somebody else has to step in, and they did. I mean, this was a supporting cast game, and of course, the controversy at the end of the game...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...With a very difficult call, offensive foul with 3.9 seconds left, didn't even give UConn a chance for a game-winning shot, but tough call. Not a great call. Let them play, they say, but also not a bad call because if, you know, you watch the...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...Replay, there's definitely movement, there's contact, so it's a tough, tough way to go out for UConn. But once again, this is the game that you're going to get, the championship game everybody wants. You've got the best team in the country against the biggest name in the game, and so Caitlin Clark, is she going to go out as a champion or is she going to be stymied for two years in a row? Great stuff.

SIMON: Ah, she's a champion anyway. Listen, men's side Final Four tonight, NC State-Purdue followed by Alabama against UConn. A few household names, but can anybody stop the male Huskies, as I'll call them, from repeating?

BRYANT: It doesn't look like it, but as we say, that's why they play. Alabama is a really good team. They've got great wins this year. UConn is terrific and just, you know, a great full team. I sort of feel like the minute we say no one can beat them...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...Someone gets beat, but looking forward to seeing what they do. And then obviously, you've got the Man Mountain, Zach Edey of Purdue. You've got the big guy, the big, big, big guy, DJ Burns at North Carolina State, and is this going to be 1993 Jim Valvano all over again, or is - are we going to get Purdue and Connecticut, which is the best matchup?

SIMON: Howard Bryant covers sports for ESPN and Meadowlark Media. Howard, thanks so much. Talk to you soon, my friend.

BRYANT: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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