Axios Des Moines

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πŸ₯³ Happy Friday and International Women's Day!

β˜”οΈ Weather: Rainy and windy with a high of 45Β°.

🐍 Situational awareness: "Don't tread on me" license plates would be offered under a GOP bill moving through the Iowa Legislature.

  • The special plate fees would be distributed as grants to groups that educate and train about the right to bear arms, Radio Iowa reports.

Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 735 words β€” a 2.5-minute read.

1 big thing: All eyes on Caitlin

Caitlin Clark waves to the crowd during senior day festivities after the match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 3. Photo: Matthew Holst/Getty Images

March is here. The madness is next. The Big Ten women's basketball tournament is underway in Minneapolis, writes Axios' Ross Terrell.

Why it matters: March is the time for Cinderella stories and great upsets, but all eyes will be on superstar Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Here are some storylines that will define the Big Ten Tournament:

It's Clark's world and we're just living in it

  • The Iowa phenom has rewritten history this season, becoming the NCAA's all-time leading scorer in basketball. She has won just about every award possible, including the Big Ten Tournament the last two years. The only thing missing is an NCAA championship.

Don't sleep on Ohio State

  • The Buckeyes are the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten after going 16-2 in conference play during the regular season. They won 15 of their last 16 games, including a win over Iowa before losing to the Hawkeyes in the last game of the season.

Best chance for a surprising run

  • The Big Ten is a top-heavy conference with Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana all ranked in the top 15 nationally. Michigan State also received votes for the top 25.
  • Yes, but: It's March and anything can happen. Nebraska is the No. 5 seed but enters the tournament winning six of their last 10 games, including an upset over Iowa.

The intrigue: The tournament won't just set an attendance record this week at Target Center β€” it will double the old mark, according to organizers.

How to watch: Games will be streamed on Peacock and the Big Ten Network. Clark and the Hawkeyes play tonight at 5:30pm.

Read our full Big Ten women's basketball tournament preview

2. Books on the go

WDM library's new truck. Photo: Courtesy of WDMPL

West Des Moines Public Library is preparing to launch its new "Words on Wheels" truck, letting people check out and return books from a "bookmobile."

Why it matters: WDM only has one library location.

  • The bookmobile will be able to better reach all residents amid the city's explosive growth.

State of play: West Des Moines Public Library opened in 1996 off Mills Civic Parkway on what was the western edge of town.

  • But thanks to the area's growth, it's now central, library head of youth services Jenna Ehler tells Axios.

How it started: WDM already has a mobile library program, but librarians use their own cars so it's not very visible, Ehler says.

  • The library decided to deck out a Ford F-350 similar to an ice cream truck by adding a box and music to it.
  • The truck cost around $100K and was funded by the WDM Library Friends Foundation and library gift trust money.

What's next: Library staff want to start using the truck this spring or summer and visit preschools, day cares and parks.

  • They also want to bring it out weekly to Cumming this summer, whose residents also use the WDM library.

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3. Mapped: Coat weather

Data: Midwestern Regional Climate Center; Map: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

April 18 is the median date of our last spring frost, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

Why it matters: Those 70Β°+ February days may have played an early April Fools' prank on us.

4. Your weekend plans

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios


🧁 Something sweet: Ankeny's Cinnaholic location opens today and is selling $2 cinnamon rolls. 10am-2pm.

🍷 Sample wine, food and beer while supporting the Des Moines Metro Opera at the downtown Marriott. 6-9pm. Tickets: $50.


🐱 Take an introductory pole class and support animals at the ARL during "Sweat for Pets" at Encore Fitness in Clive. Noon. Registration: $20.

πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ Dance the night away at "Baewatch," a lesbian/queer party at Lefty's. 9pm. Tickets: $10.


πŸŽ₯ Watch the Oscars on The Varsity's big screen! 5pm. Tickets: $35 and comes with food and two drinks.

More weekend events

5. πŸ₯‡ 1 pic to go: Best in the Midwest

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Step aside, Minnesota β€” Iowa's iconic red, white and blue flag is the best in the Midwest, according to Midwest vs. Everybody.

State of play: The social media account ranked every flag in the region with Iowa's coming out No. 1, the Register reports.

What they're saying: Of course, our top prize didn't come without some objections.

  • Minnesota's new seal and flag design wasn't reflected in the contest β€” something our friends at Axios Twin Cities called out. They were 12/12 in this ranking.
  • Ohio's flag is the only one with a "swallow-tail" design, but didn't get any points for originality. 5/12.

Shoutout: Agree or disagree? Hit reply and air your grievances (or praises!).

πŸ•° Thanks, daylight saving time: Seasonal shifts in sleep can lead to severe health risks and accidents.

  • So get some extra shuteye this weekend!

This newsletter was edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Lucia Maher.