West Virginia women's basketball awaits matchup with superstar Caitlin Clark

Caitlin Clark during the Big 10 Women's Basketball Tournament
Caitlin Clark during the Big 10 Women's Basketball Tournament / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

There is no bigger star in women's basketball today -- perhaps in the history of the sport -- that has garnered quite the attention Caitlin Clark has.

Now, all eyes will be on the West Virginia women's basketball team as they take their shot at knocking off Clark and her No. 1-seed Iowa Hawkeyes in the second-round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

The Hawkeyes, powered by a 27-point performance from Clark, breezed past No. 16-seed Holy Cross on Saturday, while the Mountaineers rallied from a deficit to send No. 9-seed Princeton packing 63-53 with a 29-point game from Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Quinerly.

Clark has undeniably become one of the all-time stars of women's basketball already, and has brought eyes to the sport that have blatantly overlooked it in the past. Iowa's appearance in the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship Game helped secure the most viewers for any women's college game in history with 9.9 million watching the event.

For the first time in program history, Iowa sold out it's home slate this past season, and they also shattered the all-time women's basketball attendance record by 25,000+ in a preseason exhibition at Kinnick Stadium, home of Iowa's football squad. Over 55,000 fans would attend that event. Every time Clark would come to town against a Big 10 opponent this season, that team set a school attendance record themselves.

Clark's popularity comes from her skill as an all-time great, regardless of gender -- she is the NCAA all-time leading scorer amongst both genders. She surpassed Washington's Kelsey Plum for the women's record in February, and then capped her senior regular season by eclipsing the men's record, held by LSU legend "Pistol" Pete Maravich. Following her first-round performance against Holy Cross on Saturday, she now has tallied 3,798 points over four years.

Now, the "Caitlin Clark effect" as it has been described will bless the Mountaineers, as it's likely more fans will tune in to see WVU play Clark and the Hawkeyes that have been on the program all season, if not ever. And the Mountaineers are ready for it.

"Let's win one and then send Caitlin Clark packing," WVU head coach Mark Kellogg told his team on Selection Sunday.

Now, the Mountaineers have won the first one, and have the opportunity to answer Kellogg's call.

“It means so much,” WVU senior Kylee Blacksten said following Saturday's win against Princeton. “Every moment now is precious. Any time can be anyone’s moment.”

But Clark and her squad are not in any mood to back down. Clark is still searching for her first national championship ring, and she would love to bring that sort of accomplishment back to her home state before she embarks on her professional career following the NCAA Tournament.

"I would say our region probably has the most talent in it," Clark said. "But at the same time, we're the 1-seed in that region. There's no reason for us to shy away from anything. We can hang with every single team in the country.

The Mountaineers and Hawkeyes are set to meet at 8 p.m. (ET) on Monday, March 24. As the top seed in their section of the bracket, Iowa is set to host the matchup at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The contest can be watched live on ESPN.