Blue & Gold Breakdown: No. 8 West Virginia women's basketball faces Caitlin Clark, No. 1 Iowa for trip to Sweet 16

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After eliminating No. 9-seed Princeton in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament, No. 8-seed West Virginia women's basketball is looking to make the Sweet 16 for just the second-time in program history, and the first-time since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1994.

But to do so, the Mountaineers will have to face their tallest task yet, as they are set to face host and No. 1-seed Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the Round of 32. Here's what to look for when the Hawkeyes and Mountaineers clash on Monday night.


It is possible that there is no better collegiate women's basketball team this season than the Iowa Hawkeyes.

From the jump, the Hawkeyes will have the home-court advantage -- and there is likely no stronger home-court advantage in the sport than playing at Carver-Hawkeye, where the team sold out every game this season.

Personnel wise, Iowa has a generational talent in senior guard Caitlin Clark. The senior guard is the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history amongst both men's and women's basketball, and leads the nation in both points per game (31.8) and assists per game (8.9).

But Clark isn't the only weapon on the floor -- she is joined by sophomore forward Hannah Stuelke, who averages 14.1 points per game, and senior Kate Martin, who averages 13 points per game. As a team, Iowa paces the nation in points per game (92.8) and three-point buckets made per game (11.3).

“The most elite offense in the country, the best offense I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching. And they’re special because they have obviously our game’s greatest scorer, man or woman, leading the charge. Then they have put the right pieces around her,” WVU head coach Mark Kellogg said.

West Virginia

The key to success for this season's women's basketball squad at WVU has been their elite play on the defensive end of the court.

Paced by sophomore Jordan Harrison with 95 steals on the season and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Quinerly with 94 steals, the Mountaineers are first nationally with a plus-8.75 turnover margin. They also rank second nationally in steals per game (13.8) and are third nationally in turnovers forced per game (23.9).

“It’s about possessions,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “If you turn the ball over, you’re in trouble. Possessions are so important. But if we control possessions, we’re the No. 1 team in the country in points per possession. So we have to do a good job on the boards. We have to do a good job valuing the ball.”

While Iowa has been held below 76 points just twice this season, WVU is ranked in the top-40 nationally in scoring defense, giving up just 57.6 points per game. Headed into Monday's matchup, Clark knows that this may not be her team's usual high-scoring affair.

“I think it’s understanding we’re not going to win by 25 points,” Clark said. “That’s not what this is at this point. It’s going to come down to single possessions, and you have to execute possessions."

When and Where to Watch

Iowa and West Virginia will battle it out for their Sweet 16 aspirations on Monday, March 25th. Tip-off is currently scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast live on ESPN.