Caitlin Clark is talking about two games, she has to beat CU first

Mar 29, 2024, 12:26 PM | Updated: 12:38 pm

To say Caitlin Clark has a lot going on right now might be an understatement but as she readies to face the Colorado Buffaloes in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament there’s one thing she’s certain about—she’ll be headed to Cleveland next week. The question is, will she be in Ohio as a participant in the Final Four or as a member of Team USA’s pre-Olympic training camp? The star of the Iowa Hawkeyes is the lone college player of the 14 athletes invited to the practices and will not be able to compete for a spot if she’s still fighting for a national championship.

Of course, the senior guard from Iowa is pumped about her future in red, white and blue and most likely playing for the Indiana Fever, who hold the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft. Though, there’s a new option on the table for Clark as well. This week, the Big 3, Ice Cube’s basketball league, offered Clark $5 million to play a max of 10 shortened 3-on-3 basketball games. The league is mostly filled with former NBA players as well as a few great hooping celebrities.

“Yeah, to be honest, I found out about the Big 3 thing at the exact time you all did, and my main focus is just on playing basketball. I think that’s the biggest thing,” Clark said in a news conference on Friday. “Like you said, USA Basketball is my — that’s your dream. You always want to grow up and be on the Olympic team, but lucky for me, I have the opportunity of possibly not doing that because I want to be at the Final Four playing basketball with my team. But if not, that’s where I’ll be. People that are on that roster are people that I idolize and have idolized growing up. Just to be extended a camp invite is something you have to be proud of and celebrate and enjoy.”

Sounds like a lot to focus on that’s not in Albany, New York, where she and the Hawkeyes will face Colorado and with a win the winner of LSU against UCLA. That second matchup in the Elite Eight would be a rematch of the women’s title game from last season but first, it’s a rematch of Iowa’s Sweet 16 bout, a 87-77 win over the Buffaloes.

“More than anything, my focus is on winning these two games, and that’s exactly how it should be. I honestly don’t talk about those things with really anybody. I have other people that deal with it, and they haven’t said a word to me about it,” Clark said. “My main focus is on this team and helping us find a way to beat Colorado and hopefully win another one after that.”

Two games? Iowa is only promised one. And though the sportsbooks have the Hawkeyes as eight-point favorites the Buffaloes have been ranked as high as No. 3 in the country this season while Clark’s crew topped out at No. 2. Colorado is 3-3 against teams in this year’s Sweet 16 and the Buffaloes cruised through their first two March Madness games to bigger wins than Iowa and unlike the Hawkeyes, the Buffs were playing away from their own campus.

“We have to box out better than we did last year. We gave up 22 O-boards against them last year. Just crazy numbers,” Iowa coach Lisa Blunder said Friday. “Obviously they have two very good three-point shooters right now. Adding Maddie Nolan does pose a problem just because now they have two excellent three-point shooters on the perimeter and a great inside game.”

Nolan is the lone player on the Buffs roster to beat Clark, doing so while playing for Michigan. Nolan is far from the lone CU player confident that their team can beat the likely back-to-back National Player of the Year. The Buffs will tell you they’ve played great players and teams all season and this is just next up. Unlike Iowa, CU has made no mention of their possible rematches with LSU or UCLA. The Buffs beat the Tigers to start the season and lost twice to the Bruins during Pac-12 play.

One team heading into Saturday afternoon’s game is focused on that contest and it alone—the other has their eyes set on Cleveland.


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Caitlin Clark is talking about two games, she has to beat CU first