In Friday night’s semi-finals, both Louisiana State and Iowa booked their spot in the championship game and the pair face off for the national title on Sunday night, with both looking to cap off brilliant runs at the tournament.
This looked set to be a procession for favourites South Carolina, but the tournament’s 1-seed fell short of the final.
In their place are two sides who weren’t even the top seeds in their regionals. Can cap off their impressive run with another upset, or will this truly be Caitlin Clark’s tournament after another stellar showing in the last four?
Ahead of the women’s NCAAB Championship final, here is our look at the decider.
|What||LSU Women @ Iowa Women|
|Where||American Airlines Center, Dallas|
|When||20:30, Sunday 2nd April 2023|
|How to watch||BT Sport|
|Odds||LSU 13/10, Iowa 4/6|
This looked set to be South Carolina’s tournament, as the title favourites made it to the final weekend with a perfect 36-0 record for the season.
Just two more wins would have seen them cap a faultless campaign with a championship, but Caitlin Clark ended those dreams in Dallas on Friday night.
Clark has been a force for Iowa throughout the NCAAB Championship, with her worst display seeing her post 22 points and 12 assists in a comfortable second-round win over Georgia.
She got Iowa to the last four with a 41-point triple-double against Louisville in the regional final, while another 41-points followed in the last four.
The guard racked up 41 points, six rebounds and eight assists against a previously unbeaten South Carolina side, willing her team to victory.
Clark – along with her teammates – were incredibly composed in the win, making key shots to stem any hopes of a fightback.
Iowa took a nine-point lead in the first quarter and they were able to hold firm against a side which had recorded 31 wins by 10+ points so far this season.
It was an exceptional all-round performance, which has made Iowa the favourites for this one. They head into Sunday’s clash priced at 10/11 to win by three or more on the Spread.
One thing we can say for certain about Sunday’s game is that a new name is taking home the trophy.
Clark’s brilliance guided Iowa through what was just their second-ever appearance in the last four of this tournament, while this is their first-ever run to the final.
LSU are also set to play in their first NCAAB Championship final, having returned to the last four for the first time in 15 years.
They fell short at the penultimate hurdle five years in a row between 2004 and 2008, but a storming fourth-quarter display on Friday took them to a first-ever championship game.
Alexis Morris inspired them to the victory with 27 points in the 79-72 win over Virginia Tech, with LSU coming back from nine points down in the final quarter.
A stellar 29-13 finish in the final 12 minutes turned that deficit into a comfortable win. Virginia Tech had been the top seed in their regional and looked set for a final appearance, but LSU moved to 33-2 for the season and kept the campaign alive for one more game.
While both teams approach a national final for the first time, LSU arguably boasts the experience edge as head coach Kim Mulkey chases a fourth NCAAB Championship.
She spent 20 years in charge of Baylor, making the final eight in six of her final seven appearances at the tournament.
The Louisiana native returned home in 2021 and guided LSU to the second round, but she’s leading a real contender this time around.
With a 100% record in championship games at this tournament, Mulkey’s side could be a real threat to Iowa.
Her opposite number Lisa Bluder started at Iowa in the same season that Mulkey took charge of Baylor. While she’s yet to guide this team to a title, her side has won the Big Ten Tournament title in three of the last four years that it’s been held.
Sunday will either see a decorated coach bring a title home or the pinnacle of Bluder’s long Iowa reign.
As the odds suggest, the pair are evenly matched, with the presence of Clark likely shading it for Iowa.
Bluder’s side beat the tournament’s top seed without hitting their usual high standards from beyond the arc, so there’s room for improvement as they approach the championship game.
They should get more space to click from distance in the title decider, so take them to cover a -2 handicap on the Spread.