Iowa women’s basketball looks forward to NCAA Tournament

The Hawkeyes lost Saturday but are excited about the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.


Kate Heston

Iowa’s Sharon Goodman cheers on her teammates from the bench during the championship game of the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament. Iowa, ranked No. 6, took on No. 1 seeded Maryland in Indianapolis at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon. Maryland beat Iowa, 104-84, securing their spot as the 2021 Big Ten Champions. (Kate Heston/The Daily Iowan)

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — The sixth-seeded Iowa women’s basketball team lost, 104-84, to No. 1 seed Maryland in the Big Ten championship game, but the Hawkeyes’ season should not be over yet as the team turns its focus to the NCAA Tournament.

Before Saturday’s game, ESPN projected Iowa as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the River Walk Region that will go against Rice in the first round. Texas A&M is the projected No. 1 seed in that region.

Iowa won three games in the conference tournament that were significant in boosting its at-large resume. The team beat 11th-seed Purdue Wednesday, 83-72, upset No. 3 seed Rutgers, 73-62, Thursday, and No. 7 seed Michigan State, 87-72, Friday. Iowa has 18 wins on the season.

By beating No. 19 Rutgers, Iowa added its second ranked win of the season after beating No. 12 Michigan on Feb. 25.

Bluder said the Big Ten should have eight teams in the NCAA Tournament, which is a remarkable amount.

“Playing four games in four days is brutal,” Bluder said. “And every day that prep time and rest time got less and less and less.”

Monika Czinano had 107 points and 48 field goals throughout the four days, which was a Big Ten Tournament record.

RELATED: Rapid Recap: Iowa women’s basketball falls to Maryland in Big Ten championship game

“I think that we made some leaps and bounds,” Czinano said. “Just kind of being through adversity like coach was saying these four games in four day it’s a lot. It’s a lot on your body. It’s a lot mentality so just having to lean on each other having to rely on each other. Different people stepping up on different nights that helped our team move forward. That’s exactly what the NCAA Tournament is like. So, we saw a lot of good things come out of this team during this stretch.”

Caitlin Clark also broke a Big Ten Tournament record with 37 assists in her four games.

Last year’s NCAA Tournament was cancelled because of COVID-19, and the Hawkeyes finished the season ranked No. 21 nationally.

In 2019, the Hawkeyes earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament and made it to the Elite Eight behind national player of the year Megan Gustafson, which was the best finish the team had under Bluder. The Hawkeyes made the Final Four in 1993.

“I expect that we will do some amazing things,” Bluder said. “That’s what I told our team afterwards. There’s that were prepared to go in there and do some amazing things. Why not? We’re playing on a neutral court. It’s going to be a different experience than we’ve known in the past as far as with COVID and with a pandemic. But I’m excited to be a part of it because I’ve never been a part of anything like this so it’s going be down one of those in the memory books.

“I think it could be really, really fun for us.”

All the games will be in either San Antonio, San Marcos, or Austin, Texas. The First Round games will be on March 21 and 22. and the Final Four will be played at the Alamodome April 4, with the national championship game April 6.

The Hawkeyes will find out Monday on where they’ll be seeded in the NCAA Tournament. The selection show will be televised on ESPN at 6 p.m.

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