Iowa coach Lisa Bluder enjoys the fact that her last two senior classes have gotten to end every season in the NCAA Tournament.
“When you’re sitting there as a senior and you know nothing different than playing in the NCAA Tournament at the end of every single one of your years,” Bluder said. “I hope it says a lot for where our program is – that this is the standard.”
Iowa (19-11) earned a ninth seed and faces eight seed California (24-9) at 11:10 a.m. on Sunday in South Bend, Ind. The game is on ESPN2.
The matchup drew cheers from the Hawkeyes who had gathered in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to watch the selection show.
“You just hope that little Hawkeye symbol is going to pop up there,” junior Morgan Johnson said. “You always think about what if we don’t get in? What if, what if, what if? That just settles things. We know who we’re going to be preparing for. That’s a really big sigh of relief.”
The other matchup in the region pits top seed No. 4 Notre Dame (30-3) against 16 seed Liberty (24-8).
“As a competitor, you can’t be happy to just be in the field,” Iowa freshman Samantha Logic said. “You want to win always no matter what. I think it’s doable. Just try to put a run together.”
The bid is the fifth straight for Bluder and ninth in her 12 years with the Hawkeyes.
“This program is getting to be really consistent,” senior Kamille Wahlin said. “That’s the mark of a good program.
“Hopefully we can try to get out of the 8, 9 seed and get those better seeds. There’s things you can always get better on.”
Of Bluder’s nine NCAA Tournament berths at Iowa, they have been an 8 or 9 seed six times.
Iowa has also been sent from coast to coast recently. Their previous three trips were to Spokane, Wash., Stanford, Calif., and Norfolk, Va.
“We’ve been drug across this country,” Bluder said. “The last two years on the West Coast. Before that the extreme East Coast. For us to play in the Midwest is a whole different element.”
Logic, out of Racine, Wis., said her parents were on the phone with her right away, talking about the 3½ hour trip to South Bend, Ind.
“They are really pumped about it,” Logic said. “They don’t travel very lightly. I’m sure they are going to get who they can to come with.
“Any crowd we get is going to be awesome. There’s not going to be too many from Cal.”
California was the runner-up in the Pac-12 this season to No. 2 Stanford, a team they took to overtime on Jan. 28 at Stanford.
The Golden Bears have a balanced attack with five players who average 8.5 points or more, led by 5-9 junior guard Layshia Clarendon (12.6 ppg).
Freshman forward Reshanda Gray (10.2) and freshman guard Brittany Boyd (10.1) have emerged under first-year coach Lindsay Gottlieb.
California has a plus-13.2 re bounding margin and averages eight steals per game.
The Pac-12 only had two teams receive NCAA Tournament bids, while the Big Ten set a record with seven teams in the 64-team field.
“This is great for our conference,” Bluder said. “It continues to get stronger and stronger. This shows we’re deeper than ever before.”
The other Big Ten teams in the field (with seeds): Purdue (4), Penn State (4), Nebraska (6), Ohio State (8), Iowa (9), Michigan State (10) and Michigan (11).
Iowa is one of two Big Ten teams to earn five straight NCAA Tournament invitations. The other is Ohio State.
“It’s fun to see your name go up there,” Bluder said. “I don’t care how many times you do this, it’s always fun to see your name go up there.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball