5 things to know about Illinois State women's basketball, Iowa's NCAA Tournament opponent
The Iowa women's basketball team's strong finish to the 2021-22 season did more than just earn the team some Big Ten hardware.
It also meant Iowa, a No. 2 seed in the Greensboro Region, would get to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
The Hawkeyes had success in last year's NCAA Tournament, winning two games before a Sweet 16 loss to top-seeded Connecticut. With more experience on this year's roster and arguably the best player in the nation in Caitlin Clark, expectations are sky-high for this year's March Madness run.
The Hawkeyes will take on 15th-seeded Illinois State (19-13 overall, 12-6 in Missouri Valley Conference play) at 3 p.m. CT, Friday. Here's what you should know about the Illinois State Redbirds.
Illinois State won the 2022 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Illinois State took down Loyola Chicago, Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa to win it all. The Redbirds toppled the Panthers 50-48 in the title game on Sunday.
Watch out for Juliunn Redmond
Juliunn Redmond is Illinois State's leading scorer, netting 17.6 points per game. She finished second on the team in assists, averaging 3.1 per contest.
Redmond had a season-high 34 points in a 74-67 loss to Northern Iowa back in January.
This is Illinois State's first NCAA Tournament bid since 2008
Illinois State last made the NCAA Tournament in 2008, when it earned a No. 13 seed and lost in the first round to No. 4 Oklahoma, 69-61.
The Redbirds have an all-time record of 1-5 in March Madness. Their lone NCAA Tournament victory came in the first round in 1989, when 7-seeded Illinois State took down No. 10 seed Northwestern State before losing to No. 2 Stanford.
Illinois State has three Iowans on its roster
Iowa fans may recognize a few familiar faces during Friday's game.
Three Redbirds — Mary Crompton (Iowa City Regina), Lexy Koudelka (Nevada) and Lexi Boles (Dowling Catholic) — will be back in their home state.
Crompton, a redshirt junior, is most likely to factor into the gameplan against the Hawkeyes. She has started 31 games for Illinois State in 2021-22 and leads the team with 71 made 3-pointers (37.4%).
Koudelka, a senior, started 14 games for the Redbirds in 2020-21 but has played 35 minutes this season.
Boles, a freshman, has appeared in 19 games this year off the bench.
DeAnna Wilson is a player to watch
When Redmond isn't leading Illinois State's offense, keep an eye on DeAnna Wilson.
The 6-foot-2 forward was named first-team all-MVC this season after posting averages of 13.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Wilson has tallied nine double-doubles this year.
Read more about Iowa women's basketball in the NCAA Tournament
- Selection Sunday: Iowa looks to capture Big Ten title; Iowa State awaits first NCAA Tournament bid since '19
- For Iowa women's basketball, successful Big Ten run sets stage for another NCAA Tournament
- Recapping Iowa women's basketball's win over Indiana in the 2022 Big Ten Tournament
- 7 things to know about Caitlin Clark, Iowa women's basketball's superstar
Aaron Marner is a digital producer with the USA Today Network. You can follow him on Twitter @A_Mar32 or reach him at email@example.com.