Caitlin Clark’s legacy: Does the Iowa superstar need to win the NCAA tournament?

The Hawkeyes play Holy Cross on Saturday

Clark is hoping to lead the #1 seed Hawkeyes back to the national...

Clark is hoping to lead the #1 seed Hawkeyes back to the national title game.Lapresse

Caitlin Clark‘s college career is ending. The 2024 Women’s Tournament will be Clark‘s “goodbye” to NCAA basketball, where she has produced countless memories and broken longstanding records, leaving an indelible mark on the game before she turns pro later this year.

However, one accolade is still missing from Clark’s collegiate resume. The NCAA’s all-time points leader is desperate to add this achievement to her legacy before she heads to the WNBA next month. That longtime goal is a championship, and Clark will have to elevate her Iowa Hawkeyes teammates a few more times to reach that objective.

Clark’s championship chase

The margin between being one of the greatest college basketball players ever and the undisputed GOAT of the college game can be more like a chasm for most players. But Clark is not “most players.” She is a one-of-one, and a national title to crown her career would make it difficult for many fans and analysts to argue seriously in favor of any other NCAA player in the modern era.

Clark’s 3,771 points scored are a record for any college basketball player, men’s or women’s, and she took her game to new heights this season before breaking the points record. She has averaged 31.9 points per game this year while notching a career-best 8.9 assists on average — and without a heroic performance against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, Clark probably would not have been able to secure a #1 seed for her Hawkeyes.

Iowa’s close calls

Being a top seed for the first time since 1992 could be a big boost for Iowa in its bid to win a national title for the first time in program history. The Hawkeyes on Saturday can take the first step toward returning to the championship game for a second successive season, when Iowa faces 16-seed Holy Cross at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Before losing the championship matchup with Angel Reese and LSU last April, Iowa suffered a second-round exit to 10th-seeded Creighton in the 2022 tournament after a Sweet 16 loss to top-seeded Connecticut in 2021. These are the results that, for some, define Clark’s collegiate career — and whether she can change the narrative by capping her Iowa tenure with a championship is one of the most fascinating storylines to follow in this season’s tournament.

However, one thing is already certain — Clark is one of the greatest college basketball players ever to take the hardwood. Now, it is a matter of determining just how great.

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