ESPN taps Caitlin Clark-Hannah Stuelke as one of the top 10 women’s tournament duos

The Iowa Hawkeyes head into the 2024 NCAA Tournament boasting the game’s biggest star in senior guard Caitlin Clark.

Clark is the reigning consensus national player of the year and she leads the nation in points per game (31.9) and assists per game (8.9). The 6-foot guard is shooting 46.0% from the field and 38.1% from 3-point range.

Clark’s superstardom is well known. The West Des Moines product has NIL deals aplenty and has brought millions of fans into the game of women’s college basketball.

But, she’s not doing it all by her lonesome for Iowa (29-4, 15-3 Big Ten).

ESPN listed its top 10 duos in the 2024 women’s NCAA Tournament and Iowa’s Clark is joined by sophomore forward Hannah Stuelke.

Perhaps it’s easy to say anyone paired with Clark would make a good duo, but that ignores just how important Stuelke is to the Hawkeyes. Clark’s assist numbers wouldn’t be what they are without the 6-foot-2 sophomore at the finishing end of so many of them. Stuelke scored 47 points against Penn State on a night when Clark had 15 assists.

Iowa needed someone to replace Monika Czinano, and while Stuelke isn’t the same type of player, she filled the role of inside presence and finisher well. As good as Clark is, Iowa wouldn’t be a No. 1 seed — the top team in Albany 2 — without the play of Stuelke. – Charlie Creme, ESPN.

ESPN’s resident women’s bracketologist is right on the money. Stuelke has been terrific for Iowa this season and her relationship with Clark has morphed into one of the nation’s top duos.

Tasked with becoming the primary interior player to replace Clark’s longtime running mate in Monika Czinano, Stuelke has stepped her game up. The 6-foot-2 big from Cedar Rapids has upped her averages from 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season to 14.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season.

Stuelke is shooting 64.3% from the field and 61.7% from the free throw line. She also averages 1.3 assists per game.

In order for Iowa to advance back to the Final Four and then to go capture the program’s first national championship, the Hawkeyes need Clark to see these continued contributions from Stuelke.

Iowa’s duo joins UConn’s Paige Bueckers and Aaliyah Edwards, Iowa State’s Audi Crooks and Addy Brown, LSU‘s Angel Reese and Aneesah Morrow, Notre Dame‘s Hannah Hidalgo and Maddy Westbeld, Ohio State‘s Jacy Sheldon and Celeste Taylor, South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso and Te-Hina Paopao, Stanford’s Cameron Brink and Kiki Iriafen, UCLA‘s Charisma Osborne and Kiki Rice and Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore and Elizabeth Kitley.

Iowa’s 2024 NCAA Tournament will get underway with first round action inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 2 p.m. on Saturday against the winner of No. 16 seed Holy Cross (20-12, 11-7 Patriot League) and No. 16 seed UT Martin (16-16, 11-7 Ohio Valley). The game will air on ABC.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire