Another Cy-Hawk women's basketball matchup? Here's how it could likely happen in the Sweet 16.

Tommy Birch
Des Moines Register

AMES — Shortly after the Iowa State women’s basketball team learned who they first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament would be, Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly was asked if he got a chance to look at the other top teams in their regional.

“Nah, not really,” Fennelly began to answer.

Then a smile crept across his face.

“I mean, obviously, yeah, I saw it,” he said.

The "it" Fennelly was referring to was the Iowa Hawkeyes, who landed in the Greensboro, North Carolina Regional along with Iowa State. And if things go according to their seedings, the two teams will meet one more time this season — in the Sweet 16. 

"We have to beat the team in our little region for (Cy-Hawk talk) to matter," said Iowa's Monica Czinano. 

It's already a giant topic of conversation, though. Shortly after the bracket reveal, a lot of the attention on Selection Sunday in Iowa quickly turned to the collision course Iowa and Iowa State are on to meet in the Sweet 16. While nothing is assured, especially in the postseason, the stage is perfectly set for the two teams to play each other again after landing in the same regional and locking up home court advantage in the first two rounds. Teams that earn top four seeds get to the host the first two rounds in the women's tournament. 

Cy-Hawk fans could be treated to one more showdown between the two teams in the NCAA Tournament this year.

Iowa, a No. 2 seed and Iowa State, a No. 3 seed, both accomplished that. So, Iowa will take on 15th seed Illinois State on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. If the Hawkeyes advance, they'll play the winner of the first round game between No. 7 Colorado and No. 10 Creighton. 

The path for Iowa State is just as favorable. The Cyclones host UT Arlington at Hilton Coliseum Friday. Win that game, and they'll take on either No. 6 seed Georgia or the winner of the play-in game between DePaul and Dayton.

PREVIOUSLY: Iowa State women to face UT Arlington in NCAA Tournament 

After that? The Sweet 16. And another Cy-Hawk showdown, this time in Greensboro. And odds are, it'll happen with both teams likely already heavy favorites to win both their first and second round games.

Eighth-ranked Iowa State put together one of the best regular seasons in school history. The Cyclones won a program record 25 games during the regular season and 14 Big 12 Conference games. The 10th ranked Hawkeyes, who went 23-7 this season, were Co-Big Ten Conference champions during the regular season and won the Big Ten Tournament title earlier this month.

"We can't get too far ahead of ourselves,' Iowa State star Ashley Joens said. 

It'll be hard not to do, however. Another showdown between the Cyclones and Hawkeyes would be another memorable moment in an already huge rivalry that has produced its share of close calls over the last few seasons. The last five games have been decided by seven points or less.

Just this year's regular season game, billed as one of the most anticipated meetings in the rivalry with both teams ranked in the Top 25, ended with Iowa State winning 77-70 Hilton Coliseum. The win snapped a five-game losing streak in the series for Iowa State. 

PREVIOUSLY:Iowa women a two seed in NCAA Tournament 

"They have tough games and so do we, here," Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark said.

While neither team wanted to focus on the potential of another showdown later in the tournament, it's not something either of them can truly ignore. Especially when they stakes may may higher than they're ever been for the two teams in the heated rivalry. 

"It would be great for the state of Iowa for both of us to make it tot the Sweet 16," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. 

Iowa women's basketball reporter Dargan Southard contributed to this report. 

Tommy Birch, the Register's sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He's the 2018 and 2020 Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Reach him at or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.