2019 NCAA TOURNAMENT

Drake-Mizzou NCAA tournament matchup features 2 former players of Lisa Bluder

Jennie Baranczyk leads the Bulldogs; Robin Pingeton guides the Tigers

Missouri Coach Robin Pingeton watches warm-ups during practice at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday. An Atkins native and Cedar Rapids Jefferson player, Pingeton leads the Tigers into Friday’s first-round NCAA women’s basketball game against Drake. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Missouri Coach Robin Pingeton watches warm-ups during practice at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday. An Atkins native and Cedar Rapids Jefferson player, Pingeton leads the Tigers into Friday’s first-round NCAA women’s basketball game against Drake. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — Yes, it’s a family reunion of sorts, but there’s too much at stake for coziness.

When Missouri faces Drake in a first-round game in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament Friday afternoon, it will match a pair of Lisa Bluder’s former players — Robin Pingeton and Jennie Baranczyk — on opposing benches.

“We’re all pretty competitive,” said Bluder, whose Iowa Hawkeyes face Mercer in Friday’s first game at 1 p.m. “We’re all the same Iowa mold ... ‘Iowa Nice.’ They’re not going to cheat, they’re going to do things the right way. People like that get harder and harder to find.”

As Robin Becker, Pingeton played for Bluder at St. Ambrose, an NAIA program in Davenport, graduating in 1990.

“Lisa has been incredible for me,” said Pingeton, an Atkins native and Cedar Rapids Jefferson graduate. “I had a great opportunity to play for her in college. I had a lot of success with her at St. Ambrose. She has been a huge part of my life, on and off the court.”

When Bluder took the Drake job, Pingeton was hired as an assistant, and stayed with her for two years. She has been a head coach for 24 years — eight at St. Ambrose, seven at Illinois State, nine at Mizzou — and owns a 505-275 career mark.

Six-foot-4 senior center Cierra Porter is Pingeton’s niece, the daughter of Pingeton’s sister (and former Hawkeye) Lisa (Becker) Porter.

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As Jennie Lillis, Baranczyk scored 1,762 points at Iowa in a career that concluded in 2004. That ranks No. 7 all-time for the Hawkeyes.

“There are a lot of Iowa ties, and it’s pretty cool just how important women’s basketball is here,” Baranczyk said. “Sometimes on the national scene, I don’t think people realize how good basketball is here.”

Baranczyk was an assistant at Kansas State, Marquette and Colorado before taking the head position at Drake. She owns a 152-75 mark in seven seasons, including 81-19 and three NCAA berths in the last three seasons.

Despite a 27-6 record, a No. 25 ranking and an RPI of 20, Drake is a 10 seed.

Too low?

“I’ve gotten asked that a lot this week,” Baranczyk said. “Do I like being a 10? No. Do I like getting an at-large berth? Yes. Do I like where we get to play? Yes.

“I’m not in the business to fight a seed. My job is to prepare my team to play Missouri as a 10 seed.”

The Tigers (23-10) are seeded seventh.

This will be the first Drake-Mizzou meeting since 1981. Tipoff will be around 3:30 p.m.

Tracking a ticket count

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, about 9,800 tickets for Friday’s games had been sold.

Iowa has surpassed 10,000 on two occasions this season — 10,716 against Maryland on Feb. 17, then 12,051 on Senior Day, March 3.

Odds in Hawkeyes' favor

According to the fivethirtyeight.com analytics site, Iowa has a 76-percent chance to win two games on its home court and advance to the Sweet 16.

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Missouri is given a 16-percent chance to advance to Greensboro, Drake a 7-percent shot and Mercer less than 1 percent.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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