IOWA CITY — If the Iowa Hawkeyes advance to the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Coach Lisa Bluder will be facing a former player.
No matter what.
The Hawkeyes (26-6) earned a No. 2 seed when the pairings were released — prematurely — Monday afternoon. They will face 15-seed Mercer (25-7) at 1 p.m. Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Mercer won the Southern Conference tournament championship and carries a 17-game winning streak. The Hawkeyes and the Bears have never met.
The delicious aspect of the Iowa City subregion is the other first-round game. No. 7-seed Missouri (23-10) meets 10-seed Drake (27-6) at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Missouri is coached by Robin (Becker) Pingeton, formerly of Cedar Rapids Jefferson and a former player of Bluder’s at St. Ambrose. Drake is coached by Jennie (Lillis) Baranczyk, another former Bluder player.
Iowa defeated Drake, 91-82, Dec. 21 in Des Moines behind a 44-point outing from Megan Gustafson.
The Hawkeyes are 15-0 at Carver this season.
NCAA brackets were leaked mid-afternoon Monday, will before the Selection Show, which was scheduled for 6 p.m., then moved up to 4 p.m. on ESPN.
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“We deeply regret the error and extend our apology to the NCAA and the women’s basketball community,” ESPN said in a statement. “We will conduct a thorough review of our process to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.”
The second round is Sunday. The survivor from Iowa City advances to the Sweet 16 at Greensboro, N.C. Baylor is the top seed at Greensboro, and No. 1 overall.
North Carolina State is the 3 seed at Greensboro, South Carolina is No. 4.
The Sweet 16 is March 29-April 1; the Final Four — at Tampa, Fla. — is April 5-7.
In other news Monday, Lauren Jensen — a junior from Lakeville, Minn. — has committed to the Hawkeyes.
Jensen is averaging 27.4 points per game this season for Lakeville North, and already has scored more than 1,500 career points.
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