It’s not every day you get to see two titans compete on the same court, but Tuesday won’t be like every day.
On Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET, the Kentucky Wildcats will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. As exciting as the matchup between the two teams will be, the bout taking place in the fine print may be even more electric.
SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard’s dominance will be challenged by Iowa’s star freshman Caitlin Clark. The six-foot guard from Des Moines, Iowa has been nothing short of astounding this season. Clark has averaged a nation-leading 26.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game.
Clark’s numbers weren’t just regular season antics, either. The star guard dropped 23 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in the Hawkeyes’ first-round win over Central Michigan. Although Clark’s performances are undoubtedly shocking, Coach Kyra Elzy doesn’t plan on letting the freshman catch her by surprise.
“I know everyone is talking about the matchup. Obviously, Caitlin Clark is a freshman phenom and Rhyne Howard is the best player in the game right now,” Elzy said. “But still, even those two players are on the court, it’s still a 5-on-5 basketball game.”
It may still be a team game, but all eyes will certainly be on Howard and Clark. The two All-Americans are both the clear leaders on two teams with very different styles.
The Hawkeyes currently average 86.6 points per game, 13 more points than Kentucky’s average. On the flip side, Iowa gives up over 80 points per game. They certainly trust their ability to outscore their opponent, but Howard may have something to say about that.
Howard is known to play with a chip on her shoulder and with such high stakes on the line, you can certainly expect her to do it again. Howard has more accolades this season than Clark, but she still has a lot to prove.
Clark averages more points and assists per game than Howard this season. As if that wasn’t enough, Howard and Clark have history. In 2019, the two absurd talents played together on USA’s U19 team and won the gold medal. Although Howard and Clark may have some shared memories, only one will advance past Tuesday.
Hopefully for the ‘Cats, Howard was keeping her friends close and her enemies closer. Howard will have to play some of her best ball of the season for the Wildcats to defeat the Hawkeyes. Tune in to ESPNU on Tuesday to see 4-seeded Kentucky face off against 5-seeded Iowa at 3:30 p.m. ET.