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On the heels of the likely National Player of the Year hitting the shot of the year in the game of the year against the No. 2 team in the country, the Iowa Hawkeyes are going to be a spicy fan-favorite choice to make the Final Four — or even beyond — in this year's women's college basketball tournament for good reason. They are the No. 7 team in the country after all.
But is riding with Iowa a chaotic good choice or a recency biasedly-bold one?
On our podcast, See You In The Lobby, the NCAA champion herself Marissa Coleman likened Clark's heroics to the clutchest hooper March has ever seen in back-to-back Final Four game-winning shooter Arike Ogunbowale.
There's no doubt Clark, who is averaging 27.2 points, 8.2 assists and 7.4 rebounds on 3.3 3-point makes has the guts and the skills to make a run. Her lowest point total on the season is 18 points. Her LOWEST.
Iowa is an elite team, but they're also the only one in the top-10 with six losses. As fiery as their offense can spark is as porous as their defense can be. They've lost to an unranked Kansas State and Illinois and posted losses by three possessions or more to UConn, NC State and Indiana not including a 28-point blowout L to Maryland on the road.
More dangerously, the Terrapins were a shining example of what can happen when a team is able to relatively (5-of-13 shooting) lock Clark down.
HerHoopsStats' ratings (which factors margin of victory per 100 possessions) has Iowa as the No. 7 team in the country at 33.8, which is pretty dang good! But for those studying Ogunbowale's clutch factor as a differentiator Clark may possess — her champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish team was a much deeper group, posting a 50.0 rating.
Teams peaking at the right time is a real thing, and Iowa has only posted three losses in 2023 (albeit one very bad one). A win over No. 2 Indiana shows their ceiling, but a 5-4 record against ranked opponents shows the risk.
Remember, this group fell in the round of 32 as a No. 2 seed a year ago, and if they make it far enough, they could play an undefeated South Carolina team at some point. The Hawkeyes' placement in the bracket will matter.
Keep an eye on their performance in the Big 10 Tournament. Iowa will play the winner of Wisconsin or Purdue on March 3.
Iowa's National Championship odds are +4000 at FanDuel. A $10 bet would earn $400 if the Hawkeyes win the tournament.
Photo: by Matthew Holst/Getty Images