The national tournament that no one expected has started. For the first time in 12 years, the championship will not feature a #1 seed, and the winning team will celebrate their first national title in show history. Neither LSU nor Iowa have played in the final game of the season, but Kim Mulkey is all 3-0 in the title game as head coach at Baylor.
The Hawkeyes beat the college basketball giants to get to this point, and LSU had to play their best possible seed in four of the five rounds, including a win over top-seeded Virginia Tech in the Final Four. I didn’t. Both teams have shrugged off regular-season concerns (Iowa’s defensive instability and his LSU’s weak schedule) and are playing their best basketball against the toughest competition when it matters most.
Here’s what both sides should be aware of when the Hawkeyes and Tigers go head-to-head on Sunday at 3:30 PM ET.
How will LSU beat Iowa?
Have Kaitlyn Clarke on defense
Alexis Morris watched the second half of Iowa’s loss to South Carolina on Sunday and was impressed with Clark, praising the Hawkeyes star’s shooting range and ability to hit contested shots. He provided an important note to the assembled media when he said, “Caitlin will have to defend herself tomorrow.” LSU’s first business item on Sunday is to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The team can challenge Clarke on offense, but none of them seem to deter Clarke. What the LSU can control is how much they have to work on defense. Even on her free safety roll against the Gamecocks, Clark (who played 38 minutes) still looked a little tired at the end of the game. Use fatigue to your advantage. Clark also realizes that he doesn’t get into foul trouble, so he basically puts his hands behind his back and makes it easier to attack when playing.
Limit Iowa Center Monica Chinano
When Czinano arrived at Iowa City, coach Lisa Bluder was reminded of a player who was clearly different from the one he was coaching. “Her shot was a mess when she came,” Bruder said Saturday. After 5 seasons, Iowa State Associate Head of his coach Yang He spent countless hours with Jensen post his footwork, positioning and shooting. Offense is one of his players. She has been in the top 10 nationally for her goal percentage on the field in each of the last four seasons, and this season she is posting a career-high 68%.
As a team, the Hawkeyes rank second nationally in field goal percentage at the rim and third in field goal percentage in the paint, according to CBB Analytics. But when Angel Reese and Ladazia Williams are on the floor together, the Tigers find success. I think LaDazhia did a great job, and without LaDazhia, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing,” Reese said. Reese expects to guard Chinano on Sunday, even though he thinks he’s the quicker of the two Tigers’ bigs and more of a power forward than center. It’s a team effort to slow down Czinano and limit his effectiveness in Iowa’s basket.
Alexis Morris recreates his semi-final performance
Morris appeared in LSU’s semifinal victory over Virginia Tech, scoring a game-high 27 points on 11-of-27 shooting. Mulkey then praised Morris, a native of Beaumont, Texas, highlighting Morris’ quickness on offense and aggressiveness on defense. As a fifth-grader, she’s one of the Tigers’ engines, able to find teammates in tight spaces (she averages the 97th percentile in assists) and create her own shots (she averages 10 per game). at the 95th percentile) — her game still varies. “She’s her X-factor,” said Kateripur, her sophomore guard at LSU. “Sometimes it clicks a little late.” Expect clarity early in the game on how much Morris can or can’t disrupt Iowa.
How did Iowa beat LSU?
Discover new defense schemes in South Carolina Plus Shooters
The Hawkeyes packed the paint as much as possible in their Final Four matchup, shot boldly for South Carolina, stayed disciplined even when the Gamecocks made several 3-pointers, and trusted the overall process. bottom. That game plan worked, reaching the national title game, but Brooker said LSU was essentially the better shooter in addition to South Carolina. He scored three points during the NCAA Tournament with the Tigers, even if his shots from range aren’t as good (he’s 19.7% in five games), the Hawkeyes at least respect Poole and Morris’ distance threat. It looks like Raven he is more so than Johnson or Kiera. fletcher. Iowa has rotated various defensive looks throughout the season, so defensive versatility isn’t an issue.
Closing the gap in the rebound battle
It was a small miracle that the Hawkeyes won the game when they outrebounded 49-25. The Gamecocks recorded more offensive rebounds (26) than Iowa’s total board count, and he outscored the Hawkeyes in second chance points, 24-8. Nonetheless, expect Iowa to overcome that dramatic gap for the second straight game, especially when LSU is averaging about the same number of second-chance points (18.3) as South Carolina (18.8). is difficult.
On Saturday, Bruder said his least favorite play in basketball was the old-fashioned 3-point play, and the Hawkeyes ditched some of them for putback opportunities in the national semifinals. A rebounder, he averaged 7.9 seconds of chance points per game against Virginia Tech as the Tigers erased a double-digit lead in the second half. Reese has the ability to foul her biggs into her trouble, and when she creates extra possessions, it only demoralizes the Hawkeyes.
Kaitlyn Clarke must be Kaitlyn Clarke
This key isn’t surprising at all, but it’s an understatement. Clark will have to play his way throughout the season if Iowa wants to win the first national championship in school history. But the Hawkeyes reached this stage thanks to two consecutive magical performances from the Star Guard. After the win over the Hokies, Mulkey got to see some of Clarke’s performance against South Carolina. “I couldn’t take my eyes off her when she came out. Well, she’s special,” Malkey said. Clark has been the best player in the season and tournament and has won the championship since arriving on campus. “I understand there’s only 40 minutes left in my season, and I’m a little sad because it was a lot of fun,” Clark said. “But why don’t you go cut another net?”
(Photo by Monika Czinano: Justin Tafoya / NCAA Photos via Getty Images)