By Kyle Mann
The Iowa women’s basketball team ended the season ranked on the fringe by the Associated Press and the coaches’ poll, competing for a fourth seed and the chance to host its first two games in Iowa City. You can imagine the elation, then, when they were ranked as a No. 3 seed.
“This is special for us because this is the highest seed we’ve ever received as a coaching staff,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We were hoping for a 3-seed — and actually getting it, when you see it — it’s pretty special.”
Her team is now poised to meet American University at 1:30 p.m. Friday in front of its home crowd. The Hawkeyes had a very limited scouting report on the Eagles only a few short minutes after the announcement — the two have never faced one another — but they are elated to be playing at home, where they went 16-0 in the regular season.
“We’re excited, obviously we like playing at home, as our record shows,”senior Sam Logic said. “That’s why Senior Day was a little easier, because I think we were really confident we were going to be able to play at home again. So we’re glad we got that and are going to get that opportunity to play in front of our fans.”
The seniors honored that day, along with playing on their home-court, will be the Hawkeye’s biggest advantage in their first game. This marks the first time the American women’s basketball program has appeared in the tournament.
With that in mind, Bluder and the Hawkeyes know their experience will serve them well.
“Having that experience on our home-court and this crowd behind us, that will be so special for us,” senior Bethany Doolittle said. “It’s always tough coming into the tournament as a lower seed, and American, this is their first time, so they aren’t as experienced in that setting and intensity level. So I think we’ll have an advantage there.”
Assuming all goes well for the Hawkeyes, they stand to face the winner of Miami-Washington in the second round, also at home, on March 22.
Further down the road, they might have to go through No. 1 seed South Carolina.