Bueckers and Clark Will Make Semis a Classic

by Vegas Writer

Friday, Apr 05, 2024
All year we've heard the Caitlin Clark hype, and how she's been the face of women's college basketball while starring for Iowa.

Tonight, Paige Bueckers will look to end her longtime rival's college career, while extending her own and UConn's season one more game.

Bueckers won National Player of the Year as a freshman, before enduring season-ending knee injuries and playing just 17 games combined over the last couple of seasons.

Now she has the Huskies on the doorstep of the national championship.

And when you think about Bueckers, obviously you look at her stats, averaging almost 20 points per game, almost nine rebounds per game, getting it done both as a facilitator on the defensive and doing a little bit of everything for the Huskies. But for me, what stands out most is the joy she's playing with. And she noted a few weeks ago that that was a little bit of a mental switch she had to make in the postseason.

She said it was a bit of a difficult stretch: going through returning from injury, the mental side of things, the physical side of things. But she knows she plays her best basketball when she's playing free, when she's having fun with her teammates, and you're able to see that going back to the Big East tournament, and even now in the dance.

She's having fun, she's playing her best basketball and she's gotten the Huskies back to the final weekend.

As for Clark, we know her story because it's been plastered everywhere, everyday, since the start of the season. She continues to break records, it seems, with every jump shot she makes from Des Moines to Dubuque - the distance doesn't seem to matter.

Their rivalry goes back to youth days, as Bueckers and Clark are two Midwest kids, they were on the AAU circuit going up against each other, they both won gold medals with USA Basketball youth teams, and then they went their respective paths - to UConn and Iowa, respectively. They met in the third round of their freshman year when Bueckers won the Player of the Year Award and was the face of the game.

Though the two teams played last season, Bueckers was hurt and that was when Clark started to get herself going as a big star in this era of women's basketball.

Now she's the face of the game.

So here we are, watching both players after getting their teams to the national semifinals, both players wanting to win a national championship and both with the opportunity to do so this weekend.

It starts tonight, and they have to go through each other to do it.

One thing that Bueckers has stated, though, is even though UConn might be seen as the underdog going up against Clark and the Hawkeyes, that the Huskies being counted out almost makes them even hungrier to get the job done.

Enjoy the show, as this will be a game to see.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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