IOWA CITY — At her weekly press conference Monday, Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder called Florida State “our toughest opponent of the year.”
A bit later, she corrected herself:
“Our toughest opponent of the year, to date.”
No. 13 Florida State (6-0) invades Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tipoff is 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Tickets are $1 for adults, free for youths (18-and under, plus UI students).
Iowa (7-0) has beaten three teams — Quinnipiac, Western Kentucky and Elon — that reached the NCAA tournament last year. The Seminoles are a different beast; they reached the Elite Eight and finished 28-7 in 2016-17.
FSU is outscoring its opponents by 38.2 points per game, outrebounding them by a margin of 21.6 per game and holding them to 32-percent shooting from the floor.
“It will definitely be a great challenge,” guard Kathleen Doyle said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence going in.”
Neither team is particularly deep. Doyle’s return from ankle injury gives the Hawkeyes a rotation of nine players. Florida State has a roster of nine, a rotation of seven.
Both teams are balanced, though. Five Seminoles average in double figures, led by 5-foot-11 senior forward Shakayla Thomas (21.0 points, 7.3 rebounds per game).
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“She is a nightmare of a matchup. She’s so strong,” Bluder said. “We don’t have a great person to match up with her.”
After earning Big Ten player-of-the-week honors two weeks ago, Iowa’s Megan Gustafson has been on the league’s three-player honor roll each of the past two weeks.
A junior post, Gustafson is averaging 21.3 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, and is shooting 68.1 percent from the floor. She ranks third in the country in rebounds, eighth in field-goal percentage.
“She just continues to put up amazing stats,” Bluder said. “She’s playing so well. In my mind, she is putting up all-American numbers. I don’t know how you couldn’t have her in the conversation.”
Gustafson has posted double-doubles in all of Iowa’s first seven games.
“All I can control is my effort. My field-goal percentage is something my teammates depend on,” Gustafson said.
“I want to rebound, have good shot selection, finish over the double-team and kick it out to our 3-point shooters.”
Six other Hawkeyes are averaging between 8.1 and 13.6 points per game.
As a team, Iowa ranks second nationally in both assists per game (24.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.76).
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