Louisville’s streak of five straight Elite Eight appearances became the longest active streak in the country on Saturday after UConn lost to Ohio State in the Seattle 3 Regional semifinal.

The Huskies had made 14 straight Final Fours and every Elite Eight since 2006.

Iowa (29-6) would love to start the kind of run Louisville is on. For all their success with Lisa Bluder as head coach, the Hawkeyes have just one Elite Eight appearance in the past 30 years. The Hawkeyes reached the regional finals in 2019 only to get overrun by Baylor.

Iowa’s only Final Four trip came in 1993.

“I think that experience is a great teacher, and so definitely I think that experience that they have had is on their side,” Bluder said. “Each game you play, a little bit more pressure mounts, right? I think when you have been there a lot, you know how to handle that a little better. So I think that’s to their advantage.”

But while Louisville has more experience being in this spot, Iowa has Caitlin Clark.

The first-team All-American had 31 points in Iowa’s 87-77 win over Colorado in the Sweet 16. The victory put aside two years of disappointment after the Hawkeyes lost in the round of 16 and round of 32 in the previous two NCAAs with Clark on the floor.

“This group hasn’t been to the Final Four or the Elite Eight for us, but we’ve had the opportunity to play with each other for three years, so it’s not anything we’re going to shy away from. We’ve been in plenty of big games,” Clark said. “But I think that’s the biggest thing about [Louisville], they have experience being in this situation, they’re really well coached.”


Plenty of attention will be on the clash between Hailey Van Lith and Clark, even if they are not likely to be matched up on each other very often. The pair have history playing together for USA Basketball, including the under-19 team that won the FIBA World Cup and was coached by Louisville coach Jeff Walz.

“I played the point guard spot with her on USA Basketball. We were roommates for a while on part of the trip, so I know her pretty well,” Clark said. “A great person, but also a really good basketball player.”

The teams have played once before in the postseason — in 2014. The result was an 83-53 second-round Louisville win in Iowa City.


The Hawkeyes aren’t completely void of experience reaching this point of the tournament. Iowa’s Monika Czinano was a freshman for the Hawkeyes when they reached the regional finals in 2019. Czinano was a bench player for the Hawkeyes then and played just 2 minutes in the loss to Baylor.

On Sunday, she could be a difference maker on the interior for Iowa. Czinano has scored at least 14 points in 10 of the last 11 games.

“She’s phenomenal. I just love the demeanor she plays with. She’s a competitor, she’s fierce, but she puts a smile on, she has fun, and I love that about players,” Walz said.

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Caitlin Clark of the Iowa Hawkeyes scores during the win against the Colorado Buffaloes in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Climate Pledge Arena on March 24, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)