Iowa women’s basketball set to face Virginia Tech in inaugural Ally Tipoff

Give the nation what it wants: More of Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes on the national stage.

After setting television viewership records during last year’s run to the national championship game, Iowa will get another marquee television slot to start the 2023-24 women’s college basketball season.

The Charlotte Sports Foundation revealed that Iowa will take on fellow 2023 Final Four participant Virginia Tech in the inaugural Ally Tipoff on Nov. 9 inside the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. Action will be broadcast across the ESPN networks.

It’s a massive showcase event for women’s college basketball in the arena the Charlotte Hornets call home. It’s a no-brainer, too. Both Iowa and Virginia Tech are shoe-ins to remain in the national spotlight heading into this season.

Virginia Tech was a No. 1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Final Four after toppling Chattanooga, South Dakota State, Tennessee and Ohio State.

Like Iowa, Virginia Tech brings back one of the game’s preeminent stars in fifth-year senior Elizabeth Kitley. The 6-foot-6 center repeated as the ACC Player of the Year last season after averaging 18.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.5 assists per game. She shot 55.8% from the floor and shot 72.2% at the free throw line.

Of course, Caitlin Clark set the basketball world on fire last season, averaging 27.8 points, 8.6 assists, 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. The West Des Moines product shot 38.9% from 3-point range, 47.3% from the floor and 83.9% from the charity stripe. Her 3.68 made 3-pointers and 8.6 assists per game both led the nation.

As a result, Clark swept the national player of the year awards. In addition to Clark, Iowa brings back a number of key contributors from last year’s team as well. Guards Molly Davis, Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall all return. Forwards Hannah Stuelke and Addison O’Grady are both back, too.

Iowa beat Southeastern Louisiana, Georgia, Colorado and Louisville in succession to advance to the program’s second all-time Final Four and their first in 30 years. Then, the Hawkeyes pulled off a stunner in Dallas from inside the American Airlines Center, toppling previously unbeaten and then-defending national champion South Carolina, 77-73.

Iowa will look to take one final step forward during the 2023-24 season and capture the Hawkeyes’ first national championship. With Clark back alongside a talented supporting cast, Iowa will be one of the favorites to do just that.

It all begins against Virginia Tech in a made-for-TV event that should be fantastic for the women’s game. Iowa’s Final Four contest against South Carolina peaked with 6.6 million viewers and averaged 5.5 million viewers. Meanwhile, LSU’s semifinal matchup against Virginia Tech hit a peak of 5 million viewers and averaged 3.4 million viewers.

Then, Iowa’s national title game loss against LSU shattered records. It peaked at 12.6 million viewers and averaged 9.9 million on ABC to set a viewership record for the women’s basketball title game. The previous record mark was 5.68 million for the 2002 national championship game between Connecticut and Oklahoma. The Huskies topped the Sooners, 82-70.


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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire