Iowa Women's Basketball

No bubble this year for Iowa women's basketball

After 2 years in the WNIT, Iowa is an NCAA lock when tournament field is revealed Monday

Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder applauds her team during their win over Indiana on Feb. 24. The Hawkeyes are a lock to earn an NCAA tournament berth when the field is revealed Monday. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder applauds her team during their win over Indiana on Feb. 24. The Hawkeyes are a lock to earn an NCAA tournament berth when the field is revealed Monday. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — No doubt, they’re in.

The questions surrounding the Iowa Hawkeyes and the NCAA women’s basketball tournament this year revolve around seed and site.

“It makes for a lot nicer week than the last couple years,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “We know we’re solidly in the tournament, and that makes this week so much more enjoyable in terms of practice.”

The Hawkeyes (24-7) are a lock to be among the 64 teams picked to the NCAA tournament during Monday’s selection show (ESPN, 6 p.m.).

Now, where will they be seeded? And where will they be sent? bracketologist Charlie Creme has Iowa slotted as a No. 6 seed, and said during a conference call Thursday, “I’m pretty confident in where they’re going to land.

“However, if the committee views the Big Ten even more dubiously than I do, maybe they could slide to a 7.”

Iowa owns an RPI of 22 and a strength of schedule of 28. The Hawkeyes tied for third in the Big Ten and have won eight of their last nine games.

They have six wins this season against top-50 RPI teams, including one against RPI No. 6 Ohio State, the Big Ten regular-season and tournament champion.


“We’ve got some good wins, and really, we don’t have any bad losses,” Bluder said.

The first- and second-round games are on campus sites of the top 16 overall seeds. If Iowa is a 6 seed, it will face an 11 seed at the site of a 3 seed in Round 1.

Creme has UCLA, Florida State, Tennessee and Ohio State projected as 3 seeds. The Hawkeyes won’t be sent to Columbus, and it’s unlikely they’ll be headed to Tallahassee, because they faced Florida State in the regular season.

If Iowa dips to a 7 seed, it will face a 10 seed in the first round, at the site of a 2 seed. Likely hosts in that scenario would be Baylor, Oregon, Texas or South Carolina.

First-round games are Friday and Saturday, second-rounders are next Sunday and Monday.

Iowa will be making its 25th NCAA appearance, its 13th under Bluder. The Hawkeyes reached the Sweet 16 in their last NCAA run, in 2015. They were WNIT participants each of the past two years.

Junior post Megan Gustafson has developed into one of the nation’s top players. She was named Big Ten player of the year by the league’s media, and first-team all-American by Sports Illustrated.

Surely, more national honors are coming for Gustafson, who averages 25.6 points and 12.7 rebounds per game and shoots 66.8 percent from the floor.

Bluder was asked whether Gustafson’s star power will make the Hawkeyes more marketable with the NCAA committee.

“Good question,” she said. “I really don’t know.”

Creme said Iowa’s lifespan in the NCAA will be “determined entirely on matchups.


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“If they face a team that doesn’t have a great presence inside, or isn’t a strong rebounding team, they’re going to score a ton of points and they could reach the Sweet 16,” he said.

“On the other hand, if they meet a team that doubles Gustafson, and if she doesn’t get enough help, they could lose their first-round game.”

Iowa's NCAA tournament resume

Record: 24-7

Big Ten: 11-5 (T-3rd)

Big Ten tournament: Quarterfinalist (defeated Northwestern, 55-45; lost to Minnesota, 90-89)

RPI: 22

Strength of schedule: 28

Last 10: 8-2

W-L vs. RPI top-50: 6-4

W-L vs. RPI top-100: 12-7

Best wins: Ohio State (H), Quinnipiac (H), Michigan (H), Rutgers (A)

Worst losses: Purdue (H), Nebraska (H & A) bracketologist Charlie Creme says: Iowa is a 6 seed and will go to Knoxville, Tenn., to face South Dakota State in the first round.

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