Sue Bird surprised the Iowa Hawkeyes with some words of wisdom prior to their Elite Eight matchup against Louisville.
Left: Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images, Right: Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Sue Bird's Surprise Visit Helped Inspire Iowa to a Final Four Berth

There's something about March Madness that inspires us — even those who may not typically follow college basketball. And yet we all come together in the month of March to blindly make bracket selections and hope we can get bragging rights over our friends and colleagues. There's always some awesome story — Cinderella teams making a run or a perennial contender finally getting over the hump. And the latter is why our eyes are on the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Shooting Around With A Legend

After a Sweet 16 win against Colorado, Iowa was slotted against No. 5 Louisville for its Elite Eight matchup in Seattle. As the team was doing its shoot-around at Climate Pledge Arena, players were joined by Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird. Bird walked out onto the court, and the awe and excitement among this Iowa team was palpable. Gasps, wide eyes and laughter spread throughout the Hawkeye camp, and Bird approached them, joining their huddle for some words of wisdom. "Oh my God, I'm gonna cry," the broadcast claimed sharpshooter Caitlin Clark said upon meeting Bird.

Bird went on to say that the Elite Eight game is the toughest of the tournament — that it's rife with adversity. Iowa had not been to the Final Four since 1993, well before any of its current squad was born. Despite being tapped to make a deep run last year, they were eliminated by Creighton in the second round. But that hasn't stopped Player of the Year hopeful Clark from putting the team on her back, publicly saying they would be getting to the Final Four this year.

Guard Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes waits to re-enter the game against the Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions in the first half during the first round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament

Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

And that's just what she did. After Bird's words of inspiration, Clark said this was the calmest she'd ever felt before a game. She followed those words up with the first-ever NCAA Tournament 40-point triple-double — 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds — helping the Hawkeyes to overcome an 8-0 start by Louisville and book their first ticket to the Final Four in 30 years.

We don't yet know whom Iowa will play Friday in the Final Four. But if Clark and her team truly take to heart Bird's words about the Elite Eight being the most difficult, they may just have what it takes to roll through anyone and lift the championship trophy in Dallas.

MORE: Caitlin Clark is Hoping Her Revenge Tour Ends with Iowa Cutting Down the Net In Dallas