Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark are must-see TV anytime they are on the basketball court, but when the two face off? Things have been ratcheted up to another level.

While the two players have a longer history of facing off against each other, the “rivalry” between the two hit a new high in last year’s national title game. Reese’s LSU team won that game against Clark’s Iowa squad, and the ending of that showdown stirred an odd reaction from fans.

Reese, after clinching the win, was spotted gesturing toward Clark in a move that drew a lot of attention on social media. To their credit, both Clark and Reese downplayed the situation, and the two superstars admitted they both enjoy trash-talking on the court.

This time around, Iowa and LSU are gearing up for a rematch in Monday’s Elite 8. ESPN Bet currently has the Hawkeyes as a 1.5-point favorite in what should be a legendary showdown, and fans can track the latest line movement with SDS’s Louisiana sports betting app.

On Sunday, Reese was asked about her matchups with Clark being compared to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s rivalry from college into the NBA. While she admitted she was too young to see those games, Reese said the two players have faced off dating back to high school.

As for their relationship, Reese said it’s a super competitive one on the court but focused on growing women’s basketball and said there’s nothing else to their relationship:

“I’ve been playing Caitlin since we were in high school. I played her in my AAU Championship when she played for Iowa Tech, played her at Maryland, and then of course played her here at LSU. Just so super competitive relationship, being able to play against each other and then last year at the National Championship,” said Reese. “Being able to just grow women’s basketball and just being able to help the game is just something that we’ve just had.”

Clark was asked about Reese’s comments during her media session, and she echoed a similar sentiment in saying Reese has always been a great competitor, something that makes women’s basketball fun:

“Yeah, I would say me and Angel have always been great competitors. Obviously she played in the Big Ten for a while to begin her career, and that’s what makes women’s basketball so fun is you have great competition, and that’s what we’ve had all year long,” Clark explained.

“I think Angel would say the same, like it’s not just us in women’s basketball. That’s not the only competitive thing about where our game is at, and that’s what makes it so good. We need multiple people to be really good.”

The trash-talking narrative

For some reason, some fans continue to be surprised by the admission that trash-talking is involved even in women’s basketball. Reese and Clark both admitted it’s a routine part of their games and tried to normalize the idea.

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey was even asked about the idea of trash talk and was quick to recall a 1984 Olympic matchup between teams that consisted of players like Larry Bird, Bill Walton, Michael Jordan and others. Her point was that trash talk is really on a storyline when people make it one.

“I was in heaven. The crap that came out of those guys’ mouths, I couldn’t quit watching,” explained Mulkey. “It’s sports. It’s sports.

“I mean, have you ever thought watching games in the NCAA Playoffs how much you could write about a lot of players and the stuff that’s come out of their mouths, not just Angel and not just Clark? Anybody else know what I’m talking about? You can do whatever you want if you choose to focus on that. I don’t choose to focus on that because you see it all the time if you turn on and watch pro games.”

At the end of the day, maybe that’s one area where Clark and Reese can help take women’s basketball further than it currently is. Basketball is basketball, trash-talk and all, and the women’s game has some of the best action and intrigue involved this season.

One thing is clear: Monday’s game will be legendary, and you can count on the trash-talking flowing throughout. Buckle up.