Plenty at stake for Hawkeyes this week

Ryan Murken

Senior point guard Samantha Logic already knew what was at stake for the Iowa women's basketball team on Thursday night.

A shot at a school-record for home victories and a perfect regular season, plus two byes in the conference tournament, a runner-up spot in the Big Ten regular season standings and a chance to earn a spot as an NCAA Tournament host.

If anyone didn't know just what was up for grabs, Lisa Bluder took care of that.

"I let them know that after practice, I think they need to know those type of things," Bluder said. "Any added incentive that you can use I think you might as well use it."

There are plenty of incentives for the Hawkeyes starting with the chance to earn an automatic spot in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

The top four finishers from the regular season earn byes and won't play a tournament game until March 6.

Tournament play opens March 4 with the No. 12 and No. 13 seeds meeting and the No. 11 seed playing the No. 14 seed.

"Coach Bluder thinks it is important to know those things," Logic said. "So many things can happen and we can only control what we can control and it's nice that it is kind of in our hands."

Iowa currently sits alone in second place in the Big Ten standings at 12-4 with two games remaining.

Ohio State, Northwestern and Rutgers are all one game back at 11-5, but the Hawkeyes can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win on Thursday.

Maryland has already secured the league title and the tournament's top seed.

"Sometimes when you lose a couple of games you have to wait for other teams to do things but we still control it," Logic said. "Which is nice but at the same time we still have to take it one game at a time. We can't look too far ahead."

• SEASON SWEEP: Among its other incentives, Iowa will also be seeking a season sweep of Wisconsin on Thursday.

Iowa won the first meeting 87-75 in Madison behind a career-high 30 points from Logic, a Wisconsin native.

Logic has never lost to her home state team.

"We are obviously going for the sweep but also it keeps us off of playing on that second day (at the Big Ten Tournament) and having the first two days," Bluder said. "That is a lot to play for."

• FOCUS ON US: Coming off its first back-to-back losses since Jan. of 2014, Iowa spent the days leading up to Thursday's game focusing more on themselves than on the Badgers.

"We play so many games during the course of a year, you don't have very much time to work on yourself especially on the defensive side of things. You are just getting ready for that next scouting report and their plays and how they play," Bluder said. "This week we went back to some good old fashioned fundamentals."

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