It doesn’t get much bigger in the Big Ten conference than the No. 2 Ohio State women’s basketball versus the No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes. On Monday, the two teams clash for their lone matchup in the 2022-23 regular season.
Each team entered as one of the favorites to compete for the Big Ten conference trophy this season, with the Hawkeyes leading that list preseason. Now, the Hawkeyes sit a game back from the Buckeyes in the standings with just over a month to go in the regular season.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Not trying to make you mad Bartt, but I want to talk about the Caitlin Clark elbow at the end of regulation against the Michigan State Spartans on Wednesday. I agree that the Spartan’s reaction was a bit of gamesmanship to earn the free throws, but the Spartans did agitate the guard all game, leading to 20 points scored in regulation for Clark. Which is a great game for most but underwhelming for Clark. Is that the only way to slow her down or stop her?
Black Heart Gold Pants: The MSU game was a strange game. There were numerous fouls called. It seemed entering the ball into the post and a shot attempt was an automatic foul. There were other times where players were grabbed, pushed, etc, and no calls. So just very inconsistent.
In my opinion a Spartan player was holding an Iowa jersey in the tight inbounding formation. Clark abruptly moved her arm to shake free from the hold. She hit/bumped a Michigan State player who sold it quite well. It ended up not hurting the Hawks, but it was an unreal ending to a game.
Clark scoring 20 was only 6 below her average. MSU did frustrate her, and she has to play through that, but she is the face of college basketball (with respect to UConn guard Paige Bueckers and South Carolina centerAliyah Boston) and honestly if I was coaching against the Hawkeyes that’s the only plan of attack. What makes Clark so good is that she is a terrific and willing passer. Clark is very competitive and sometimes that can be to her detriment. She took a few shots in that game that she normally either doesn’t take or she drains them.
LGHL: The Hawkeyes are full of veteran leaders, but once it goes to the bench its hit or miss. How has that improved this year for the Hawkeyes and are there any other weaknesses with this side?
BHGP: The Hawks got a nice transfer addition in guard Molly Davis. She was a starter for Central Michigan and Iowa brings her off the bench. She brings experience and some ability shooting and handling the basketball.
True freshman forward Hannah Stuelke has really started to show up. Her minutes have increased and she is making the most of it. Stuelke’s taken over backup 4/5 duties. She has nice size and athleticism. She needs to slow down at times, but her play has been an excellent boost for this team.
LGHL: It’s likely that the Hawkeyes go up against a Buckeyes team who’s going to put their full court press in high gear. Is this something Iowa has broken through yet this year, and how do you see them handling it?
BHGP: Penn State likes to press and the Hawkeyes put up 108 on them. Typically presses work best against inexperienced teams. OSU is more athletic/talented than any other team Iowa has played, sans UConn, but I expect the Hawkeyes to do ok against pressure. Iowa does not want the ball in the hands of its bigs in the full court. That would be a recipe for disaster. Certainly pressing at home works better than on the road.
LGHL: Last year, these two teams scored 180 combined points. With both sides improving on defense, do you see a 40-minute track meet between the two for who scores the most points?
BHGP: I’m not sure if I’d say Iowa has improved on defense. There is still quite a bit to be desired on that end. Our football team can’t play offense and our basketball teams can’t play defense. It would be nice to combine those somehow! Anyway, I look for it to be a track meet. I think it’s very possible each team scores around 90. Iowa is a better team when Clark gets 25 vs 40. It should be a fun game.
I’m giving the edge to OSU. If it were at Carver Hawkeye Arena I may go the other way. Ohio State 94 - Iowa 87.