Iowa women’s basketball draws No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament, will face Southeastern Louisiana

The Hawkeyes will take on the Lions on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Matt Sindt

Iowa women’s basketball players celebrate after winning the Big Ten Tournament title at the Target Center in Minneapolis on March 5. Second-seeded Iowa defeated third-seeded Ohio State, 105-72.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Hawkeye women’s basketball earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the selection committee announced Sunday. Iowa will face No. 15 Southeastern Louisiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday.

“It’s an honor to be able to host, truly, it’s so fun,” fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano said. “I mean, it’s kind of an advantage; we get to be in our home place, living our routines, locked into that, so it’s super nice to be able to do that, truly.”

No. 7 Florida State and No. 10 Georgia were also podded in Iowa’s region and will play at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday. The winner of Iowa-Southeastern Louisiana and Florida State-Georgia will play at Carver on Sunday.

Last season, second-seeded Iowa was on the wrong side of an upset by 10th-seeded Creighton on the Hawkeyes’ home floor. While the Hawkeyes are hoping to make it out of Iowa City this year, they aren’t going to focus on the second-round game just yet.

“My sole focus is on our first game, I’m really understanding that is really important,” junior guard Caitlin Clark said. “And then moving on, my sole focus is going to be on whether it’s Florida State, whether it’s Georgia; you can’t look ahead to who you’re gonna play in the Sweet 16. This is the greatest postseason tournament in of all sport because there are those upsets, but when you’re on the losing end of that, it really does stink. I think we have that fire inside of us.”

The top seed in the Hawkeyes’ Seattle 4 region is 2021 national champion Stanford. Iowa avoided UConn, the No. 2 seed in the Seattle 2 region, and No. 1 overall seed South Carolina, which is in the Greenville 1 regional.

The Hawkeyes, who are currently the No. 2 team in the AP Poll, fought their way to a No. 2 seed with four straight wins — three over ranked opponents.

Iowa finished the regular season with a buzzer-beating victory over then-No. 2 Indiana, 86-85. As the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, the Hawkeyes then won their way to the title, taking down No. 7 seed Purdue, No. 3 seed Maryland, and No. 5 Ohio State. All four of the teams Iowa beat made it into the NCAA Tournament, with Indiana locking up a No. 1 seed.

The Hawkeyes advocated for a No. 1 seed following their conference tournament victory, especially after Indiana’s loss in the conference tournament semifinals. While Iowa wanted — and expected — a top seed, head coach Lisa Bluder said there’s minimal difference in the seed lines.

“It appears that we were the first No. 2,” Bluder said. “What’s the difference between being the fourth No. 1 or the first No. 2? There’s absolutely no difference, and so I don’t really care at all about that. I’m just excited that we get to play in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night.”

Iowa is 26-6 overall and 15-3 in the Big Ten. Southeastern Louisiana is 21-9 overall and 14-4 in the Southland Conference.

When the Hawkeyes and the Lions face off on Friday, Iowa will be playing its first game in 12 days. But the rest and time to reset from the Big Ten Tournament title is essential, Bluder said.

“I feel like they have put the Big Ten Championship behind them, and we even forgot to bring the trophy up here,” Bluder said. “It’s just behind us now, and we’re moving on to this. We know we’ve got the next step.”