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IOWA CITY — The Iowa Hawkeyes are the odd team out.
Three women’s basketball teams from the state were called for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Iowa State. Drake. UNI.
Narrowly bypassed by the NCAA for the second straight year, the Hawkeyes landed back in the WNIT when the brackets for both were released Monday.
The Hawkeyes (17-13) will host Missouri State (16-14) on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“This could be a really great opportunity for growth for a young team such as ours,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said in a release. “I know this is going to really help us for the future.”
Media members were not invited to the Hawkeyes’ viewing assembly Monday. Coach Lisa Bluder will meet the media Tuesday.
The Hawkeyes will be making their fourth WNIT appearance, all under Bluder. They advanced to the quarterfinals in 2003, the semifinals in 2005. Last year, they were bounced in the first round by Ball State.
In the end, the Hawkeyes’ resume just wasn’t good enough.
Iowa’s RPI Monday was 64, with a strength of schedule of 21. The Hawkeyes tied for eighth place in the Big Ten at 8-8, then fell to Northwestern, 78-73, in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Their best wins were against James Madison and Michigan State, which have RPIs of 41 and 42. They were 2-8 against RPI top-50 teams, 7-12 against the top 100, and suffered an ugly loss at Illinois (RPI 208).
Senior Ally Disterhoft has 2,040 career points and needs 20 to supplant Cindy Haugejorde (1976-80) as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer.
Drake (28-4) was an automatic qualifier after winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Despite a 22-game win streak and an MVC regular-season title, the Bulldogs received a 10 seed. They’ll face Kansas State (22-10) Saturday at Manhattan, Kan.
ISU earned an at-large berth and a No. 9 seed. The Cyclones draw Syracuse (21-10) in Round 1 Saturday at Storrs, Conn. The winner faces top-ranked Connecticut in the second round.
UNI was somewhat of a surprise. The Panthers (24-8) were MVC regular-season and tournament runners-up. They earned a 10 seed and will face DePaul (26-7) on Friday at Starkville, Miss.
Iowa defeated ISU and UNI during the regular season, including an 88-39 count against the Panthers.
Four Big Ten teams earned NCAA bids — Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State.
The WNIT begins Wednesday; the NCAA opens Friday.
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