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Caitlin Clark, Monika Czinano and the rest of the Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team are on the verge of history. After taking down 6-seed Colorado on Friday night, Iowa punched their ticket to the Elite Eight for the fifth time in program history. It marked the second time in the last four seasons after the Hawkeyes made a similar run in 2019 on the back of the legendary Megan Gustafson.
That run came to a screeching halt when Iowa slammed into a buzzsaw in the Baylor Bears. Now the Hawkeyes look to avoid a similar fate as they take on 5th-seeded Louisville on Sunday night in Seattle.
The Cardinals are fresh off a Sweet Sixteen victory over Ole Miss and find themselves in a familiar spot. Louisville has been to the last five Elite Eights - the longest active streak in women’s college basketball. A win tonight would send head coach Jeff Walz and the Cardinals to a second straight Final Four.
Led by junior guard Hailey Van Lith, who averaged 19.5 ppg on the season, Louisville has been able to bounce back from a rough start to the season to enter the night at 26-11 overall. The Cardinals went 3-6 in games against ranked opponents this season, including a 19-point loss to Ohio State early in the season, but boast top-10 wins over Notre Dame and Texas and enter the night having won 11 of their last 14 games with the only losses coming to 1-seed Virginia Tech and the aforementioned Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
While not as defense-dependent as Iowa’s last opponent, Louisville comes in with some similar trends. The Cardinals went 5-5 on the season when their opponents topped the 70-point mark while going 21-6 when holding opponents under that threshold. Interestingly, however, the stronger correlation comes not from holding opponents under 70, but putting the biscuit in the basket themselves as Louisville went 21-2 in games where they scored 68 or more points while finishing 5-9 in games where they were held to 67 or fewer.
The Hawkeyes are, of course, not built on defense and would prefer an up-tempo game in the 80s. Iowa has the firepower to out-gun the Cardinals, but Louisville won’t shy away from a track meet. The Hawkeyes will need to find a way to slow down Clark’s former USA Basketball teammate Van Lith if they want to make history tonight and get Iowa to just their second Final Four in program history and the first in 30 years.
Here are the details for tonight’s matchup.
How to Watch
Date: Sunday, March 26th
Time: 8:00pm CT
Opponent: #5 Louisville Cardinals (26-11, 12-6)
Location: Climate Pledge Arena - Seattle, WA
Gambling (by DraftKings): Iowa -5 | Iowa -240/Louisville +200 | O/U 154.5
Radio: Hawkeye Sports Network
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
The winner of tonight’s matchup will advance to take on the winner of #1 South Carolina and #2 Maryland in the Final Four. That game is set for 6pm CT on ESPN Monday night.
Here’s a look at the full women’s NCAA Tournament bracket.