Lights, cameras, Clark: Iowa's superstar guard gets prime-time spotlight Saturday on Fox

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Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Minnesota, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Caitlin Clark has set records on and off the court. The University of Iowa's superstar guard is on track to do something never accomplished by a women's basketball player.

Appear on all four broadcast networks in the same season.

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Clark and the third-ranked Hawkeyes host No. 14 Indiana on Saturday night on Fox. Iowa is featured in four of the six Big Ten regular-season women's games that will air on either Fox or NBC. Both networks have left open the possibility of adding more games.

Should the Hawkeyes reach the Big Ten Tournament final on March 10, that game will be on CBS. ABC will carry NCAA Women's Tournament games on weekend afternoons the first two weeks, along with the Women's Final Four championship game in prime time on April 7.

In fact, appearing on the four broadcast networks is something usually achieved only by top NFL players, like Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes. Fox even promoted the Indiana-Iowa game during its recent broadcast of the Jets-Patriots game.

Fox's Gus Johnson, who arrived in Iowa City on Thursday, called games in the early days of the WNBA for the New York Liberty. He also called college games for CBS, including what were the annual top-five matchups between UConn and Tennessee. Johnson marvels at what Clark can do, saying her star power is well deserved.

“She is literally a virtuoso. I had to look that word up to really understand the exact definition of it before I came down here. She is a virtuoso in basketball," Johnson said. "I’ve seen her on tape and live on TV. But now I get to see her with my own eyes, and I am so excited.

“She plays in a different dimension and realm. Her ability to see, understand and anticipate the game and then from a physical aspect shoot the ball from almost anywhere when she gets into the front court.”

Both Hawkeyes games against No. 17 Ohio State will be aired nationally (Jan. 21 on NBC and March 3 on Fox) while the Feb. 3 contest at Maryland on Fox could be moved to prime time.

Geordie Wimmer, Fox Sports' VP of Production, said the network is treating Saturday's game like one of its biggest matchups of the year, including the men's games. Besides Johnson, Fox has its top basketball production crew deployed and will use the same amount of cameras normally used for a top-ranked team. Johnson's analyst will be Sarah Kustok, who also does Brooklyn Nets games on YES Network.

The broadcast will feature Jenny Taft's pregame feature and interview with Clark.

It's one of at least 13 women's games on Fox this season, the most for a regular-season women’s college basketball package on any broadcast network. Fox will feature No. 18 Notre Dame against No. 13 UConn on Jan. 27.

“As a network we've seen the growth of women's sports, starting with the Women's World Cup through women's volleyball on the network and now college basketball. What we're trying to do is grow the sport we have an interest in growing,” Wimmer said. “The best way to do it is give it the biggest audience we can. Obviously, Caitlin is an icon but it's also us following what the audience wants. The Big Ten and Big East have a history of great women's programs. We wouldn't be doing this if it was about one player or team.”

Clark — the first Division I player to record at least 3,000 points, 900 assists and 800 career rebounds — leads the nation in scoring at 31.0 points per game and is coming off her fourth triple-double of the season (26 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) in Wednesday night's 96-71 win at Purdue in a sold-out Mackey Arena.

Besides the Clark factor, Saturday's game is an intriguing matchup. Indiana (14-1, 5-0) is the defending Big Ten regular-season champion and has a 13-game winning streak. Iowa finished runner-up to LSU in the 2023 NCAA Division I Championship game, which drew a record 9.9 million viewers on ABC and ESPN2.

Iowa and Indiana split their regular-season meetings last year. Johnson calls it one of the biggest games for women's basketball so far this season.

“So, not only is this an opportunity to see the best female player in the college ranks and one of the biggest stories in American sports, but she's going to be taking on a team that can flat-out play," Johnson said. "They're coming in here to win and they have the talent. This is going to be something.”


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