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The Carver cast of characters for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament
Storylines include a possible reunion with McKenna Warnock and an AAU teammate, and a homecoming for Georgia Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson
IOWA CITY — It’s entirely possible that McKenna Warnock’s final game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be played against one of her best friends.
A native of Madison, Wis. (she played at Monona Grove High School), Warnock played AAU ball alongside Erin Howard, now at Florida State.
“I’m excited to have her here,” Warnock said. “Seriously, she’s one of my best friends from back home.
“But more than anything, I’m just excited to be back at Carver, one more time.”
Iowa could hook up with Florida State in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament Sunday, but both have work to do before that comes to fruition.
Warnock and Monika Czinano will make their Carver finales this weekend. The Hawkeyes (26-6) — ranked No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll, and a 2-seed in the Seattle 4 Region — open with Southeastern Louisiana (21-9) at 3 p.m.
In the other first-rounder, at 12:30, 7-seed Florida State (23-9) tangles with 10-seed Georgia (21-11).
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, the Hawkeyes have a 99-percent chance to win their first game and a 90-percent shot at reaching the Sweet 16.
They were heavily favored last year, too, and lost in the second round to Creighton.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” Warnock said. “The home court doesn’t mean you’re going to win.”
The Warnock-Howard reunion is one potential storyline from Iowa City this weekend.
The return trip home of Katie Abrahamson-Henderson is another.
A native of Cedar Rapids (she attended Washington High School), Abrahamson-Henderson is in her first year as head coach at Georgia.
It’s her fourth job as a head coach, following stints at Missouri State, Albany and Central Florida. In 18 seasons altogether, she has taken 12 teams to the NCAA and has won 393 games.
NCAA women’s basketball: Iowa City subregion capsules
Coach: Brooke Wyckoff (2nd year, 33-18)
Final AP ranking: NR
Seattle Region 4 seed: No. 7
Conference: 12-6 ACC (T-4th)
Leading scorers: Ta’Niya Latson (5-8, fr.), 21.3 ppg; Makayla Timpson (6-2, soph.), 13.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg; Sara Bejedi (5-7, sr.), 11.0 ppg
Scoring averages: Offense 80.1, defense 67.0
Tournament history: 22nd appearance, highlighted by Elite Eight runs in 2010, 2015 and 2017.
Common opponents with Iowa: Purdue (FSU won, 76-75; Iowa won, 83-68 and 69-58); Wisconsin (FSU won, 92-87; Iowa won, 102-71 and 91-61); Connecticut (FSU lost, 85-77; Iowa lost, 86-79); North Carolina State (FSU won, 91-72; Iowa lost, 94-81)
Coach: Katie Abrahamson-Henderson (1st year at Georgia, 21-11; 18th year overall, 393-168)
Final AP ranking: NR
Seattle Region 4 seed: No. 10
Conference: 9-7 SEC (T-5th); tournament quarterfinalist
Leading scorers: Diamond Battles (5-8, sr.), 14.3 ppg; Brittney Smith (6-3, sr.), 11.8 ppg
Scoring averages: Offense 67.1, defense 58.4
Tournament history: 36th appearance. Five Final fours, including runner-up finishes in 1985 and 1996.
Common opponents with Iowa: Wisconsin (Georgia won, 68-60; Iowa won, 102-71 and 91-61); North Carolina State (Georgia lost, 65-54; Iowa lost, 94-81); Belmont (Georgia won, 66-55; Iowa won, 73-62)
Coach: Ayla Guzzardo (7th year, 77-86)
Final AP ranking: NR
Seattle Region 4 seed: No. 15
Conference: 14-4 Southland (T-1st); tournament champion
Leading scorers: Hailey Giaratano (5-10, jr.), 12.4 ppg; Alexius Horne (5-9, jr.), 12.0 ppg
Scoring averages: Offense 62.7, defense 54.5
Tournament history: First appearance
Common opponents with Iowa: None.
Coach: Lisa Bluder (39th year, 845-390; 23rd year at Iowa, 489-248)
Final AP ranking: No. 3
Seattle Region 4 seed: No. 2
Conference: 15-3 Big Ten (T-2nd); tournament champion
Leading scorers: Caitlin Clark (6-0, jr.), 27.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 8.3 apg; Monika Czinano (6-3, sr.), 17.3 ppg, .674 FG%; McKenna Warnock (6-1, sr.), 11.0 ppg
Scoring averages: Offense 87.5, defense 71.3
Tournament history: 29th appearance, 17th under Bluder. Final Four in 1993; four Elite Eights (most recently in 2019), eight Sweet 16s (most recently in 2021)