Iowa and LSU will meet on Monday night in a highly-anticipated Elite Eight showdown.

A rematch of last year’s national title game, the winner of this year’s Hawkeyes-Tigers clash will be going back to the Final Four. Here are the latest betting lines for this contest courtesy of DraftKings:

  • Spread: Iowa -2
  • Total: 168.5 points
  • Money line: Iowa -130 | LSU +110

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Here’s a look at some advanced stats for this matchup:

Note: All advanced stats data comes via WarrenNolan.

When Iowa has the ball

  • Iowa offensive rating: 118.4 (1st)
  • LSU defensive rating: 80.4 (6th)

It should be no surprise that Iowa leads the nation in offensive rating given the season that Caitlin Clark has had. Clark broke the NCAA’s all-time scoring record this season and is averaging a career-high 31.7 points per game. Clark also has a career-high in assists per game at 8.9 this season. That’s in-part due to Iowa’s 37.7% mark from 3-point range, which ranks in the top-10 nationally.

The 3-point shot is a huge part of Iowa’s game, even beyond Clark’s famous range. Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall are also excellent 3-point shooters on decent volume. As a team, Iowa attempts 44.8% of its field goal tries from 3-point land, which ranks 17th nationally. LSU opponents shot just 29.2% from 3-point range this season and only attempted 21.9 3-pointers per game (306th nationally).

LSU is no slouch on the defensive end, however. The Tigers have the second-best defensive rating in the SEC this season behind only undefeated South Carolina. They’ve also proven they know how to defend Iowa in a Tournament setting — more on that later.

When LSU has the ball

  • LSU offensive rating: 110.4 (11th)
  • Iowa defensive rating: 92.6 (188th)

LSU’s offense is just outside the top-10 nationally, although it has not been close to the Hawkeyes in terms of overall efficiency. With an offensive rating of 110.4, the Tigers are just as close to the 45th-ranked offense (Tennessee) as they are to Iowa’s No. 1-rated offense. LSU has a very balanced attack, with 5 different players scoring in double figures on average. All 5 of those players have scored 25+ points in at least one game this season.

Iowa’s defensive rating being just inside the top-200 is not a great sign for its chances in this game. A bad defensive rating doesn’t disqualify Iowa from advancing to the Final Four, however. The Hawkeyes were even worse a year ago (217th nationally) and they went all the way to the national title game, upsetting then-No. 1 South Carolina along the way.

It’s also worth noting that these figures are not adjusted for quality of opponent. Based on RPI, the Hawkeyes faced the 5th-toughest schedule in the country this season. LSU landed at No. 40 in that same category.

Point spread analysis

It’s curious that Iowa is listed as a favorite here despite having a worse net rating on the season than LSU (+25.8 compared to +30). However, after accounting for strength-of-schedule, the Hawkeyes do seem to have the better statistical profile. According to sports-reference’s SRS metric, the Hawkeyes would be expected to perform about 3 points better against the average team than LSU would be.

When looking at the spread in this matchup, it’s worth considering what the Tigers did to an arguably more-talented Iowa team in the NCAA Tournament last season. Foul trouble — including to Clark — certainly played a role, but LSU won 102-85 in dominant fashion over the Hawkeyes in that contest

If Iowa’s super power in this matchup is its 3-point shooting, LSU’s is on the glass. The Tigers lead the country in offensive rebounding rate this season at 43.4%. The Hawkeyes aren’t necessarily bad on the defensive glass — they ranked 33rd nationally in that category this season — but they’ll need to make rebounding a priority against LSU. Last year in the title game, Angel Reese collected 6 offensive rebounds alone.

The foul line could turn out to be another advantage for LSU if this game is officiated like it was a year ago. The Tigers are 2nd nationally in free throw attempt rate, while the Hawkeyes are all the way down at No. 96 nationally.

As daunting as it is to bet against Clark — who is unequivocally the best offensive player in women’s college basketball — I lean toward trusting LSU’s defense and variety of offensive options in this spot.

PICK: LSU +2 (-110)

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Caitlin Clark point total prop

  • Caitlin Clark point total: 31.5 points (via FanDuel)

Here’s something you may not have known if you haven’t been watching Iowa over the past few weeks: Clark is in the midst of a vicious shooting slump.

Across 6 postseason games (including the Big Ten Tournament), the Iowa star is shooting just 28.9% from 3-point range on an incredible 12.7 attempts per game. Because of the high difficulty of Clark’s shot diet, she’s always going to be susceptible to periods where she isn’t hitting 3-pointers at a high rate.

But here’s the thing about slumps, particularly with an elite player: they can end at any time. In the 20 games prior to the end of Iowa’s regular season, Clark shot 40.3% from 3-point range on nearly 15 attempts per game.

For Clark, 31.5 points is a very reasonable total. She’s scored 32 points or more in exactly half of her games this season. At the end of the day, I’m going to back a transcendent player to rise to the occasion — especially when we’ve seen that player do so time and time again.

PICK: Caitlin Clark over 31.5 points (-130)

Bonus pick: Caitlin Clark under 5.5 3-pointers (-125 at FanDuel). Clark has hit the over in just 15 of 36 games so far this season. I think she can get to 32 points in this game without hitting 6 3-pointers and I think there’s quite a bit of value on the under at -125.

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Angel Reese point total prop

  • Angel Reese point total: 18.5 points (via DraftKings)

Like Clark, Angel Reese finds herself in a bit of a slump entering this Elite Eight contest. Reese is shooting just 39.5% from the floor since the start of the SEC Tournament. She’s gone over 50% from the field in just 1 of her 6 games over that span. The ding to Reese’s efficiency has caused her scoring average to fall from 18.7 points per game to 16.7 points per game during the postseason.

Last season for LSU, Reese averaged 23 points per game en route to the national title. But in the final game against the Hawkeyes, Reese scored just 15 points — the fourth-highest total on the team.

Given Reese’s drop in production this season, her recent struggles from the field and LSU’s plethora of options on the offensive end, I lean toward taking the under in this spot.

PICK: Angel Reese under 18.5 points (-110)

Bonus pick: Angel Reese over 12.5 rebounds (-115 at DraftKings). As previously mentioned, LSU is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country and Iowa is pretty mediocre on the glass. Reese averaged over 14 rebounds per game during the regular season this year and posted an impressive offensive rebounding rate of 18.3%.

Hannah Stuelke point total prop

  • Hannah Stuelke point total: 12.5 points (via DraftKings)

Last month, ESPN’s Wright Thompson wrote a wide-ranging profile about Clark and this Iowa team. I found this excerpt on LSU’s strategy against the Hawkeyes in last year’s national title game to be particularly revealing:

“The LSU coaches had given the Tigers a devastatingly accurate scouting report on the Hawkeyes. Associate head coach Bob Starkey wrote that Caitlin would score her points and there was nothing they could do to stop her. The key was to manage how she scored those points. She averaged 27 in the Iowa wins and 30 in the losses. The key to beating the Hawkeyes, Starkey argued, was stopping Monika Czinano, who scored 19 when her team won but only 11 when they lost.

Against LSU she scored 13 and fouled out. McKenna Warnock fouled out, too. Caitlin scored 30 in the defeat.”

Hannah Stuelke is this year’s version of Monika Czinano for Iowa. Stuelke isn’t the All-American that Czinano was, but she is Iowa’s most impactful post player and its second-leading scorer behind Clark. She averages 14.4 points per game in wins and 11 points per game in losses.

Given how well LSU’s strategy worked a year ago, I’d expect the Tigers to deploy a similar plan against Stuelke.

PICK: Hannah Stuelke under 12.5 points (-115)


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