Iowa vs. UConn: Preview, odds and how to watch Final Four powerhouse matchup

Everything you need to know about the Hawkeyes Final Four matchup with UConn.
LSU v Iowa
LSU v Iowa / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

It's only fitting that Caitlin Clark's final outings are against the very best women's college basketball has to offer. It's nearly storybook.

For a player like Clark to shatter the records she has over the course of the season, face the team that crushed the Hawkeyes' dreams last year in the Elite Eight, reach the Final Four to play the most successful program in women's basketball history and potentially face an undefeated team in the national championship with another win, it seems to play into the prevailing internet conspiracies of scripted sports.

But the story has to be finished first, regardless of how it ends. Thursday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Iowa Hawkeyes will face the UConn Huskies for the right to play for a national championship against the winner of South Carolina and NC State.

The legendary college career of Caitlin Clark will end before the start of the next work week. Iowa fans are hoping it ends in the most storybook fashion possible.

But to reach that point, Clark will have to face off with UConn's own superstar Paige Bueckers. The last time Clark faced the Huskies was in the 2021 Sweet 16. The Huskies won 92-72 with Buekers putting up 16 points for the Huskies.

Bueckers and her squad are hungry for a championship. UConn has 11 in program history, by far the most in the history of collegiate women's basketball. But it's been eight years since the program has finished a season how they expect to annually.

Of course, the Hawkeyes have never captured a national championship in the sport. Last year's demons were exorcised in the Elite Eight as the Hawkeyes got the revenge victory over the same LSU Tigers that had beaten them in the national championship last year.

Everything is on the line Thursday night.

Final Four On the Court Preview

Of course, the cameras will follow Clark and Bueckers throughout the contest, but it's the supporting cast that will likely determine the outcome.

After all, “We don’t” was UConn head coach Geno Auriemma’s answer when asked about stopping Caitlin Clark. “We don’t plan on stopping her because I tried calling all the other coaches that have stopped her, and none of them answer the phone. So we’re going to have to find a different way to win than stopping Caitlin Clark.”

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder could likely say the same about Buekers who has averaged 28 points, nine rebounds, five assists and 3.3 steals per game through the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa will still look to race the court and find Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin in transition from behind the arc and Hannah Stuelke underneath the basket.

The Huskies have managed to find success by keeping pace or slowing things down. Either way, getting the ball inside to 6-foot3 senior Aaliyah Edwards will be crucial for UConn. The Hawkeyes struggled with Angel Reese in the Elite Eight before she aggravated an ankle injury and found herself in foul trouble. Edwards nearly averaged a double-double in the 2023-24 season with 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

If UConn is consistent with utilizing Edwards underneath and controlling the pace of the game, they may have a path to victory.

Ashlynn Shade, a 5-foot-10 freshman will also be called upon to keep the pace on the scoreboard for the Huskies. She has shot 36.7% from the field through the tournament, though she was shutout against Duke and had 50%-plus performances against Jackson State and Syracuse. She shot at least 50% from three in those two games and 33.3% against USC as well.

Shade's usage was lessened in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, but she is fully capable of making her average 31 minutes on the court valuable.

Betting Odds for Iowa vs. UConn

As of this writing, FanDuel's odds for the game see the Hawkeyes as -2.5 point favorites. On the moneyline, Iowa stands at -154 while the Huskies are at +126. Conversely, ESPN's Matchup Predictor gives UConn a 60.5 percent chance of victory.

The Over/Under for the contest is 162.5.

There are some interesting prop bets in the game if your state allows for them. For Clark and Buekers to combine for 60+ points is -160 while combining for 70 or more is +500.

Clark's Over/Under for points in the game is 33.5. Buekers is +158 to score 30+. To gamble from the three-point line, Clark is -275 to hit 5+ threes in the game. She's done so in two tournament games so far. Buekers is +630 for 5+ threes and hasn't done so in the tournament, last hitting five against Providence in the Big East Tournament.

The Over/Under for the Hawkeyes points in the game is set at 82.5, -115 for the under, -111 for the over.

How to Watch Clark vs. Buekers in the Final Four

Iowa vs. UConn will be the second Final Four game, so both teams will know who awaits them in the national championship game. South Carolina and NC State will tip off at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 5.

The Hawkeyes and Huskies will tip off afterward with the game slated to start at 9 p.m. EST. The game will air on ESPN and ESPN+ live from the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

Up Next: