With a Big Ten title at stake, Iowa women's basketball will have sellout Sunday vs. Michigan
IOWA CITY — The buzz surrounding Iowa women's basketball and Caitlin Clark will reach a previously untapped level Sunday afternoon. This is exactly what the Hawkeyes' superstar wanted.
"I hope it's a sellout," Clark said this week, "That's all I got to say."
With a league title on the line, the Hawkeyes' 3 p.m. game Sunday against No. 5 Michigan is officially sold out, the school announced Friday. The more than 15,000 in attendance will make up the largest Iowa women's basketball crowd since Jan. 31, 1988, against Ohio State.
A win would give Iowa (19-7, 13-4 Big Ten Conference) at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title — and possibly the outright championship if Ohio State (21-5, 13-4) falls to Michigan State. The Wolverines (22-4, 13-3), who entered Friday with a half-game lead in the Big Ten, will clinch their own outright title with a big road victory.
Clark was the star the last time these teams met, even with Michigan grabbing the 98-90 victory. Clark's riveting fourth quarter chiseled a 25-point deficit down to five before Michigan finally closed it out. Logo heaves and deep threes amid double and triple teams turned heads all over the basketball world, most notably NBA star Kevin Durant's.
What do Clark and Iowa have for the encore? Even with the home crowd on their side, the Hawkeyes can't afford to dig another deep hole against this potent Michigan squad. A four-quarter effort is needed if Iowa is to land its third top-10 win in barely a week.
"The Big Ten set it up nicely with a gauntlet of the top five basically just playing each other nonstop at the end," Clark said after Monday's win over Indiana, Iowa's second in three days. "It's going to make for an exciting finish, no doubt."
To accommodate the larger crowd, doors will open 90 minutes prior to tipoff rather than the standard hour. Parking is free for all fans. Sunday's showdown will mark the biggest crowd for a Big Ten women's basketball conference game since 2007, when Minnesota played in front of 15,269 at Wisconsin.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.