The 2024 Women’s NCAA Tournament has been thrilling so far, featuring big matchups, exciting plays, and massive viewership.

Monday night’s Elite Eight showdown between the Iowa Hawkeyes and LSU Tigers, a rematch of last season’s National Championship, has no shortage of hype.

It even led off ESPN’s First Take on Monday morning, as Stephen A. Smith, Shannon Sharpe, Christine Williamson, and Andraya Carter opened the show discussing Monday night’s clash.

In true First Take fashion, they even made it a point to discuss how the game affects Caitlin Clark’s legacy. Clark is the all-time leading scorer in college basketball history and has swept the national awards, but a national title has eluded her and the Hawkeyes, falling to Angel Reese and the Tigers last season while not making it past the Sweet 16 in either of Clark’s first two seasons.

“Let me say this first. This is one of the biggest nights in the history of women’s college basketball. Right now, they’re more popular than the men,” Smith said before explaining that the UConn Huskies are the prohibitive favorite in the men’s tournament while the women’s tournament still feels more open.

“We’ll get to South Carolina because back-to-back undefeated seasons by Dawn Staley and South Carolina, there’s a lot to be said. But when you talk about tonight, a rematch of the National Championship, Caitlin Clark going up against Angel Reese and the reigning, defending champion LSU Tigers. You look at a matchup like this and this is epic. I’m gonna be right in front of my television,” Smith added.

Going back to the talk about Clark’s legacy, Smith laid it out in simple terms. “It all depends on how she plays. No effect on her whatsoever if she plays lights out and they lose. But, she can’t stink up the joint. Last year against LSU she went 9-of-22 from the field, 8-of-19 from three-point range, 30 points, it wasn’t a bad showing but they still got drubbed by 17. You can’t show up in this rematch and stick up the joint. Caitlin Clark has to show up and has to play at an elite level.”

[Bill Hofheimer, First Take]