The Rematch: Angel Reese and LSU vs. Caitlin Clark and Iowa in Elite Eight Battle

The most anticipated college basketball game of the year tips off this evening, LSU looks to punch ticket to the Elite Eight.

Angel Reese (10) shows Iowa Caitlin Clark her ring finger during the final seconds of the women's
Angel Reese (10) shows Iowa Caitlin Clark her ring finger during the final seconds of the women's / Zach Boyden-Holmes / USA TODAY NETWORK

ALBANY, N.Y. – Two of the nation’s top-scoring offenses will go head-to-head on Monday night at 6:15 p.m. CT on ESPN when No. 3 LSU (31-4) and No. 1 Iowa (32-4) for an Elite Eight matchup in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship.

Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe will call the action on ESPN. Fans can listen to Patrick Wright and Shaeeta Williams on the LSU Sports Radio Network, 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.

Two of the main faces of women’s college basketball will meet once again. Angel Reese has recorded nine straight double-doubles for LSU in the NCAA Tournament, tied for a tournament record. Her profile ballooned after she and LSU scored a NCAA Championship game record 102 points to take down Iowa. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, a generational player, owns the NCAA scoring record and is the first player in Division-I history with 3,800+ points, 1,000+ assists and 950+ rebounds. Both teams have drawn record crowds at home and on the road while also driving historic television ratings. Last year’s championship game drew a women’s basketball record 9.9-million viewers on ABC. Monday’s crowd at MVP Arena will be packed to the brim and the ESPN broadcast is expected to draw well once again as both teams compete for a chance to advance to the Final Four in Cleveland.

“It's just another game to help grow women's basketball,” Reese said. “It's going to be unfortunate, of course, to play them just in the Regionals, but of course we're just happy to be a part of it. We're happy where we are right now.”

“You've got two very talented players that have brought a lot of attention to our sport,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “They both trash talk. They both make their teammates better. They both have their teammates' back. They have both elevated our game to where we have people watching that never watched women's basketball before. Yeah, those are tough women.”

This year’s LSU team is different than the one the beat Iowa last year on April 2. Flau’Jae Johnson, Last-Tear Poa and Reese are the only players on this year’s team that played in the championship game. Hailey Van Lith has experience at this level of the NCAA Tournament, reaching three Elite Eights and one Final Four at Louisville. Aneesah Morrow, a transfer from DePaul, is playing in her first NCAA Tournament as are freshmen Mikaylah Williams and Aalyah Del Rosario.

“Well, each of us are a new team,” Coach Kim Mulkey said Sunday. “We're not the same team we were last year, nor are they. But you certainly have some key pieces on each team. Our game plan will not even mention what we did last year because we don't have the same personnel.”

Johnson was electric for the Tigers in the Saturday win over UCLA. She had 24 points and 12 rebounds with 2 blocks to help send LSU to the Elite Eight with her second double-double of the year. In postseason play this season, including the SEC Tournament, Johnson is averaging a team-leading 19.7 points, 5.3 rebound with 14 assists, 13 steals and 8 blocks.

“I can describe Flau'Jae in so many ways because I get to see her every day and coach her on her good days and her bad days,” Coach Mulkey said. “As you watch Flau'Jae play and you're just a casual fan that has no allegiance to LSU, you watch her and you go, wow, I just like watching her perform.”

Against UCLA, Angel Reese recorded her ninth NCAA Tournament double-double in a row going back to last season – tied for the tournament record for consecutive double-doubles. Morrow scored 17 in the win and Williams had 12 points. Van Lith had 5 assists to one turnover while hitting critical free-throws in the game’s closing minutes and also took a charge to help secure the win down the stretch.

“I think at the end of the day, I'm just trying to make winning plays, and I think in the fourth quarter I was able to come up with some winning plays for us,” Van Lith said. “I would rather be known as a winner than a scorer because at the end of the day, if all you're going to ask me to do is score, that's something that I can definitely do. Yeah, I think at this point it's about making winning plays.”

The Tigers are one win away from reaching its second straight Final Four. When LSU dropped its season opener against Colorado, who Iowa defeated Saturday to reach the Elite Eight, it marked the third time one of her teams have lost a season opener. On the other two occasions, Coach Mulkey led those teams to two Final Fours, including a 2005 national championship victory.

Clark, who is looking to garner National Player of the Year honors for the second straight year, will go down as one of the game’s greatest players. This season she is averaging 31.7 points, 8.9 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game. Everything for Iowa runs through Clark, but she is not the only capable player on the Hawkeye’s roster. Hannah Stuelke averages 14.0 points and 6.8 rebounds for them in the post. Kate Martin scores 12.8 points per game. Because Clark draws so much defensive attention, her teammates capitalize on hitting open shots and making good cuts to the basket because Clark can find them.

“It's just like I want to compete at the highest level, and right now Caitlin is the highest level,” Johnson said. “So if I can defend her, try to contain her and get the win, we'll be fine. There's no stopping her, but containing her, I'm going to take on that challenge.”