Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (22) and Kate Martin (20) late within the Hawkeyes’ 97-83 NCAA ladies’s basketball regional remaining win over Louisville Sunday in Seattle. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

To change a well-liked phrase belonging to one in every of America’s best philosophers, to be “The Ladies” it’s important to beat “The Ladies.”

“The Ladies” are the South Carolina Gamecocks, winners of their final 42 basketball video games together with the 2022 national-championship contest.

That’s what Iowa has earlier than it Friday evening in Dallas. The Hawkeyes are 11.5-point underdogs to the Gamecocks of their nationwide semifinal. How are you going to be a 30-game winner and be an 11.5-point underdog to anybody? That’s complete tribute to South Carolina, not an insult to the Hawkeyes.

Like Iowa, Maryland was a No. 2-seed. It was a 14.5-point underdog in its Elite Eight sport in opposition to the Gamecocks Monday earlier than dropping, 86-75.

A decent summation: South Carolina leads the nation in scoring margin, scoring protection, rebounding margin, area aim share protection, blocked photographs per sport, and bench factors per sport.

They’re a mere seventh in scoring offense and tenth in 3-point share protection, so that they aren’t with out weaknesses. Sure, the tongue simply met the cheek.

As a lot because the Hawkeyes have turn out to be nationwide darlings, you might have to show over a number of rocks to discover a nationwide commentator who picks them to upset the reigning champs. But it surely’s much better to be an underdog within the Last 4 than to not be a part of it.

It’s additionally actually good to be in a Last 4 in 2023, when extra folks than ever are considering it. Iowa-South Carolina nearly absolutely would be the most-viewed nationwide semifinal in ladies’s basketball historical past, and maybe the most-viewed ladies’s sport, interval.

This has the Mount Olympus workforce within the Gamecocks and the Mount Olympus participant in Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. By the way in which, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston merely was final 12 months’s Nationwide Participant of the 12 months.

Who’s within the different semifinal? Who cares? (Critically, it’s No. 1 seeds Virginia Tech and LSU, they usually’re fairly good.)

Iowa’s solely different ladies’s Last 4 sport was an additional time loss to Ohio State on CBS in 1993. It didn’t register as a nationwide occasion. Ladies’s basketball was nonetheless in its childhood as a Division I sport.

The 2 ladies’s semifinals had been on a Saturday afternoon, earlier than that night’s males’s semis. The ladies’s title sport was the subsequent afternoon. That made their factor really feel too rushed, however that was the place it match finest for CBS.

Thirty years later, the semifinals are on ESPN in Friday prime time with no males’s school video games earlier than, after, or on the identical time. The championship will probably be Sunday afternoon on ABC, the No. 1 sporting occasion of the day in America.

Right here’s how various things had been in 1993: The 4 regional websites — chosen earlier than the season — had been Richmond, Va., Missoula, Mont., Nacogdoches, Texas, and Iowa Metropolis.

After taking part in its opening NCAA sport at Outdated Dominion as a result of Carver-Hawkeye Area was booked with a Weapons N’ Roses live performance, Iowa performed its Mideast regional semifinal and remaining at dwelling.

You’ll be able to think about how that sat with Mideast top-seed Tennessee. You can even think about how Iowa felt being a No. 2 seed whereas ranked fourth within the nation whereas Stanford was the No. 1 seed within the West regardless of being ranked eighth.

The Hawkeyes really had been one of many 4 finest groups that 12 months. They beat Seventh-ranked Auburn 63-50 within the semifinals and downed 2nd-ranked Tennessee 72-56 to earn their Last 4 berth.

The Thursday evening crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Area for Auburn was 8,376. The Saturday afternoon gathering for Tennessee was 12,343. This 12 months, the 14,382 tickets to the first- and second-round NCAA video games at Carver offered out in concerning the time it takes the Hawkeyes to get the ball from one finish of the court docket to the opposite.

Eight groups from over 1,000 miles away gathered in Seattle for 2 units of regional semifinals and finals. The Iowa-Louisville sport, pitting two groups from a mixed 4,178 miles away, drew a crowd of 11,700. Missoula or Nacogdoches, it wasn’t.

Which brings us to Friday. Oh, this will probably be an enormous darn deal in Dallas. The ladies’s Last 4 is all grown up and has the nation’s consideration.

A workforce from Iowa has given itself the prospect to turn out to be legendary. An opportunity is all you possibly can fairly need, and a lot extra.

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