Keys to the Iowa-Baylor Elite Eight matchup

As Iowa gets set for its Elite Eight matchup against Baylor Monday night, The Daily Iowan takes a look at some keys to the game.


Katina Zentz

Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle drives past NC State guard Kiara Leslie during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

Greensboro, N.C. — There’s no question No. 2 seed Iowa (29-6) has a tough task ahead of it as it prepares to take on No. 1 Baylor (34-1) on Monday.

That being said, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder and the Hawkeyes know they only have to best the Bears for forty minutes.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” Bluder said. “They’re the No. 1 seed overall. They have all the pressure. It’s a forty minute game, we could play them 10 times and maybe they win nine, but maybe that other time is [today].”

Here is what needs to happen if Iowa wants that one-in-10 scenario to happen in tonight’s Elite Eight matchup.


Iowa is 3-6 when it is out-rebounded by an opponent and 26-0 when it controls the glass.

Monday’s matchup will by far be the toughest battle for the boards the Hawkeyes have faced all season.

With Baylor’s 6’7 Kalani Brown and her sidekick, 6’4 Lauren Cox, the Bears have controlled the glass all season long.

They’re first nationally in total rebound rate at 61.5 percent and second in total rebounds per game with 47.6.

Megan Gustafson and Hannah Stewart will have to be boxing out of their minds to give Iowa a chance in this one.

Hitting from beyond the arc

If you could point out a weakness in the stout Baylor defense, it may be its defense of the perimeter.

That by no means is suggesting that Baylor struggles to defend the deep ball — it held opponents to just 29.6 percent. However, when compared to its No. 1 nationally ranked field goal defense (32.6 percent), it makes everything beyond the arc seem wide open.

Most teams have tried to exploit the Bears with this; 39.3 percent of points allowed by Baylor have come from beyond the arc.

To put that in perspective, just two other teams in Division-1 college basketball allowed a higher percentage of opposing points to come from 3-point land.

Iowa’s guards – Makenzie Meyer, Tania Davis, and Kathleen Doyle – will need to establish the 3 early to open up the inside for Gustafson.

Attack Brown and Cox

Baylor’s post duo might be the best in the country, so it seems counter-productive to attack it.

But Iowa’s strength is in the post, too, and it has a player in Gustafson who has a knack for getting opposing players in foul trouble.

While neither Brown nor Cox have fouled out of a game this season, they have been in foul trouble.

Brown has a foul rate of 4.8 percent, which is nothing to brag about, while Cox has been much better staying out of foul trouble, boasting a 3.1 percent foul rate.

It won’t be easy, but if Gustafson and Stewart can cause some havoc down low and cause either Cox or Brown to spend a large chunk of time on the bench, that will certainly play in the Hawkeyes’ favor.

Bottom line

Bluder is probably right in saying most nights Baylor would top the Hawkeyes.

Nevertheless, March Madness is all about the chaos, right? That’s exactly what the Hawkeyes hope to cause tonight.

Chaos would certainly ensue if Iowa shocked the nation by pulling off this unlikely upset. To do that, it is going to have to disrupt Baylor’s bigs and hit the outside shot.

If March has shown anything about Bluder’s bunch, it’s that it can certainly rise to the challenge.