Iowa women's basketball lands No. 2 seed in Greensboro regional, will face Illinois State to open NCAA Tournament
IOWA CITY — An incredible last three weeks has properly positioned Iowa women's basketball for something special this March. Projected paths to that officially became a real route Sunday evening.
The Hawkeyes landed the No. 2 seed in the Greensboro regional and will begin the NCAA Tournament at 3 p.m. Friday against Illinois State inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. A victory there and Iowa will host the Colorado-Creighton winner with a chance to go to its third Sweet 16 in the last three tournaments.
"We thought we were probably going to be a No. 3 seed and were hoping for a 2," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "So we got the 2, thrilled with that. I thought we might be going to Wichita, but we went to Greensboro a few years back. And it was a good place for us. So we don't mind going back there."
Although Sunday's reveal largely mirrored Iowa's preseason expectations —two tourney home games with a realistic chance to reach the second weekend — the Hawkeyes took the scenic drive to get there. Just in time, Iowa ripped off its most impressive surge of the season. And it's still ongoing.
The Hawkeyes will enter the NCAA Tournament having won seven straight, a streak that includes three top-10 wins, a Big Ten regular-season championship and a conference tourney title. Three victories over Indiana and another over Michigan — both host teams as well — accelerated Iowa's rise.
"I had a feeling they were going to bump us to a No. 2," Big Ten player of the year Caitlin Clark said. "I'm very happy with that. I think we've really earned it over these past few weeks with the ranked teams we've beaten. I think we're very deserving of it. I'm not surprised at all, really."
The Hawkeyes climbed from a projected No. 6 or 7 seed in mid-February to a solid No. 2 seed on Selection Sunday. Getting extra home games is as important for Iowa as anyone in women's basketball, given what the Hawkeyes did in their last Carver-Hawkeye Arena spectacle against Michigan. If Iowa can avoid a massive upset, three consecutive home sellouts is not out of the question.
Captained by national player of the year favorite Clark and all-Big Ten forward Monika Czinano, Iowa charges into the rest of March with confidence more memorable moments are ahead.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.