The Buildup Continues:
SAN ANTONIO — Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark seem to be playing a personal game of horse on the national stage. After one delivers a highlight-filled performance, the other has a top-this moment.
The captivating basketball exploits by the heralded freshmen have created a buzz around the women's NCAA Tournament, including one of event's most anticipated matchups: Bueckers and Clark will play their first college game against each other in the Sweet 16 this weekend.
"This was the potential matchup that raised eyebrows when the brackets came out," ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said. "Fans have been having the debate all season long: who is the best freshman in the country. This game won't decide that, but it will be highly entertaining for all basketball fans. We need Iowa and UConn to play each other the next three years!"
"It's awesome, just for us to both be on the big stage," said Bueckers, who had 24 points in UConn's opening round win — the most ever by a Huskies player in an NCAA debut. "We haven't really talked about it. I know my mentality is just focusing on one day at a time."
"Going up against her would obviously be a great opportunity," Clark said after the win against Kentucky. "Obviously a good friend of mine, a tremendous player. We would both say, we're not going to win it alone, no matter who wins that game."
The talented teenagers know each other well and don't consider one another rivals. They started playing against each other in middle school in AAU tournaments and played together on USA Basketball's Under-19 team in 2019.