Iowa women confident in strong NCAA Tournament seed
Iowa went to suburban Chicago last weekend to claim a long-coveted Big Ten Tournament title while improving its NCAA tournament resume.
The Hawkeyes weren't able to accomplish its top goal last weekend, falling to newly-ranked Ohio State in the semifinals.
But what about that other objective?
According to Charlie Crème's latest bracketology on ESPN.com, the Hawkeyes' tournament stock didn't fluctuate with Iowa's 1-1 performance in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Crème's latest projection has Iowa receiving a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament that opens March 20, the same seed Crème pegged the Hawkeyes heading into the weekend.
Lisa Bluder certainly didn't get the outcome she was hoping for, but she had a hard time believing her team did anything to lower its NCAA seeding.
"I don't think we hurt ourselves," Bluder said. "We were kind of predicted as a three seed before this week, and I don't see how we would not be considered a three seed."
It appears Iowa has built a tournament resume worthy of a top-four seed and a chance to be one of 16 hosts for the opening two rounds.
Iowa (24-7) finished second to fourth-ranked Maryland in the Big Ten regular season after going 14-4 in Big Ten play.
Crème currently has seven Big Ten teams getting NCAA tournament bids, second only to the ACC's eight.
Of Iowa's seven losses, four have come to teams currently ranked in The Associated Press' top 25 and all but one have come to teams in the RPI top 50.
The Hawkeyes, who are 10-6 against RPI top-50 teams this season, will have a long wait until the brackets are revealed at 6 p.m. March 16 to find out its official seed and first-round opponent.
"There is a long wait until then to find out who our competition will be," Bluder said. "I'm confident that we will be a top four seed in the country and we'll get to host, and we've been undefeated at home, so I think that is a great advantage for us."
Indeed, the Hawkeyes are a program-best 16-0 at Carver Hawkeye Arena this season.
As a three or even a four seed, No. 18 Iowa would have an inside track to its first Sweet 16 appearance under Bluder.
The possibilities are nearly endless for first- and even second-round opponents. Iowa will spend the next five or six days getting back to basics.
"We really can't do a whole lot until the selection show until next Monday," Bluder said. "That gives us a chance to go back and work on some fundamentals and work on our own skills without an opponent."
Just because Iowa doesn't know who it will face that doesn't mean Bluder isn't taking a look at possible opponents.
Crème's current bracket has Iowa facing the Big South conference champion in the opening round and either six-seed Washington or No. 11 seed Arkansas in the second round.
Other No. 6 seeds in Crème's latest bracket include Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12 and South Florida.
"It's kind of human nature to look at it a little bit," Bluder said. "We don't pore over every little detail but I'll kind of look ahead and see who I think would be the five and six seeds around the country to see who we could potentially be playing."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.