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The primary metric for determining and seeding the NCAA women's basketball tournament is nothing but NET, and the change comes at a good time for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The NET Rankings have replaced the RPI as a major calculating tool for the NCAA committee, which will reveal the brackets at 6 p.m. Monday (ESPN). And, for the Hawkeyes (18-9), it might be favorable by a seed line or two.
ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme has projected Iowa as a 5 seed, thanks to a strong run at the Big Ten tournament last week in Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes were tournament runners-up, taking down Purdue, Rutgers and Michigan State in succession (all by double digits) before falling to No. 7 Maryland, 104-84, in the title game.
'I'm really, really proud of our women,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. 'The effort they gave us, four games in four days, with every prep time less than the game before. I'm disappointed (in the loss in the final), but I'm not disappointed with the effort.”
Iowa has a NET Ranking of 24, compared to an RPI - no longer relevant, but still worth noting - of 33.
The Hawkeyes are seeking their third straight NCAA appearance. Their last tournament run reached the Elite Eight behind Megan Gustafson in 2019. They probably would have been a 4 seed in 2020, but the tournament was cancelled in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID has impacted this season, as well. Attendance has been gutted all season, and the entire NCAA will be conducted in a bubble atmosphere in the San Antonio area.
Teams will begin traveling to Texas by midweek, with the first round March 21-22 at five sites - the Alamodome, UTSA Convocation Center and Bill Greehey Arena (all in San Antonio), Frank Erwin Center (Austin) and Strahan Arena (San Marcos).
The second round is March 23-24 at the three San Antonio sites, with the last four rounds exclusively at the Alamodome.
With the entire tournament in one area, the four traditional, directional region names have been scrapped this year and replaced by four San Antonio-based landmarks (Alamo, Mercado, Hemisfair and River Walk).
If Iowa is, in fact, a 5 seed, it will face a 12 seed in the first round, and - should it advance - the winner of a 4-vs.-13 matchup in Round 2.
Potential 12-seed opponents, according to Creme, would be UC-Davis, Central Michigan and Belmont.
If the Hawkeyes are a 6 seed, they will meet an 11 seed in their opener, with a 3-vs.-14 victor awaiting in the second round.
Creme's potential 11 seeds are DePaul, Wake Forest, Stephen F. Austin and Central Florida.
The Hawkeyes, presumably, will gather on their own for the 6 p.m. show. The circumstances will be an improvement over the past two years.
The 2020 tournament, of course, was canceled. And it 2019, the brackets were leaked mid-afternoon, well before the selection show.
Iowa women's basketball resume
' Record: 18-9
' Big Ten: 11-8 (6th)
' Big Ten tournament: Runner-up (beat Purdue, 83-72; beat Rutgers, 73-62; beat Michigan State, 87-72; lost to Maryland, 104-84)
' NET Ranking: 24
' Last 10: 7-3
' W-L vs. NET top-50: 6-9
' W-L vs. NET top-100: 10-9
' Best wins: Rutgers x 2 (H, N), Michigan (H), Iowa State (H)
' Worst losses: Michigan State (A)
' ESPN.com bracketologist Charlie Creme says: Iowa is a 5 seed and will face UC-Davis in the first round as part of the River Walk Region in San Antonio
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