College Basketball’s DOE?

A lot went on in Iowa this winter; they had a LOT of visitors.  Some even bother staying for more than a few hours at a time.  But that caravan has moved on, and all indications are there’s a LONG rest of winter remaining, and not a lot of distractions in the offing.  Remember, Iowa doesn’t have a single major league professional team in any sport.

But they DO have some awesome college teams and players and one in particular is slowly but surely inching towards becoming the absolute best of all time.

Even the most casual women’s college basketball fan likely has heard of Caitlin Clark.  After all, she was half of the duo that provided ABC with the largest-ever women’s sports audience of all time, nearly 10 million humans of both genders, when she ultimately lost to LSU and Angel Reese in the Final Four last March.  Reese became the darling of social media and the feisty, take-no-crap face of the modern women’s game.  Clark was relatively gracious in defeat but determined to improve.

And so far this year, she’s making good on that vow by every measure.

As a player, she’s methodically inching toward immortality, as ESPN.com has chronicled.  As she heads into Chicago for a road tilt with Northwestern tomorrow night, she currently stands in fourth place all time among NCAA Division I women.  Last Saturday, she took an important step toward making tomorrow night significant, as the Associated Press’ John Bohnenkamp reported:

Caitlin Clark had 38 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead No. 5 Iowa over Nebraska 92-73 on Saturday.

Clark, the nation’s leading scorer at 31.7 points per game, had the 53rd double-double of her career. She was 12 of 22 from the field, including 8 of 15 on 3-pointers.

So based on that average, by the end of tomorrow night’s game we should expect Clark to move up a couple of notches in the current all-time women’s ranker, which looks at the moment as follows:

1. Kelsey Plum, Washington (2013-17): 3,527

2. Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State (2014-18): 3,402

3. Jackie Stiles, Missouri State (1997-2001): 3,393

4. Caitlin Clark, Iowa (2020-24): 3,389

13 points?  The over/under is she does it by halftime.

And then, the real fun begins.  Beginning with tomorrow night’s game, Iowa has nine regular season games remaining.  139 points puts her on pace to eclipse Plum by the middle of next month.  From there, then the excitement truly mounts.

The legendary “Pistol” Pete Maravich has held the all-time men’s scoring record for over five decades, reaching 3667 points in just three active seasons at LSU (in those days before the Earth cooled, freshmen were ineligible to play in Division I games).   Regular readers here might remember last spring a Detroit Mercy star named Antoine Davis made a spirited run at Maravich’s record.  Davis, to be fair, was helped significantly by the three-point shot that also didn’t exist when Maravich played.  But his Detroit team was quite weak, under .500, only advancing to their Horizon League conference tournament quarterfinals before bowing out, leaving Davis a missed three-point attempt at the buzzer short of history.

Iowa?  Currently #3 in the nation.  Safe to say there’s a minimum of two more post-season games following their season finale March 3rd.  Which just happens to be the date that, at her current pace, Clark would be in line to pass Maravich.

And it just so happens to be a rematch against a team ho conquered Clark and ended the Hawkeyes’ 15-game winning streak the prior Sunday and set some history of its own in the process, as Sportsnaut’s Kevin Spain recounted last week:

There’s no secret that Caitlin Clark is the most popular player in women’s basketball. Now, TV ratings for her games are driving that point home.

Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes lost to Big Ten rival Ohio State 100-92 in overtime on Sunday and the game drew an average audience of 1.93 million viewers, which is the most to watch a women’s college basketball regular season game since 2010.  The audience peaked at 3.9 million in the overtime period.

Wanna place a side bet how big the audience might be for this one, where the chance to avenge a road loss that produced this post-game incident is on tap?  As the NEW YORK POST’s Justin Clark reported:

Disaster nearly struck for Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday in a scary scene.

After No. 18 Ohio State upset No. 2 Iowa in overtime in Columbus, 100-92, Buckeyes fans stormed the court to celebrate the victory.

Amid the chaos, Clark and a fan collided hard, sending women’s college basketball’s best player crashing to the court.

“It was kind of scary,” Clark told reporters after the game. “Could’ve caused a pretty serious injury to me and knocked the wind out of me, but luckily my teammates picked me up and got me off the court.”

Clark said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith apologized to her afterward.

How nice of him.  Guess some Buckeye lovers have some class toward their opponents.

Let’s see what he says when the likelihood of millions of fans are watching their next get-together. Hopefully, what a lot of college hoops fans will also be saying.  Something along the lines of “You’re the GOAT”.

Or, more appropriately, since she’s a woman, the DOE.  Dominator Over Everyone.

Can’t wait.

Courage…

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