A role reversal is taking place this Selection Monday.
Instead of the Iowa State women’s basketball team feeling antsy about its status as an NCAA Tournament qualifier, the bubble has shifted to Iowa.
The Hawkeyes, who own a 20-12 record, are slated to host first- and second-round games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but their late-season swoon adds suspense to the 6 p.m. bracket unveiling tonight on ESPN.
“They’re a tricky one,” said Charlie Crème, a bracketologist for ESPN.com, “because I don’t know how everyone would view what went on the second part of the Big Ten season.
“I think they’ve done enough to be in.”
Crème lists the Cyclones (23-8) as a sixth seed, heading to Spokane, Wash.
“The problem they have,” Crème explained, “as a non-host, they’re going to be playing on somebody’s home floor.”
A year ago, Iowa State was an NCAA host, anxiously waiting for an invitation to the party.
When it came, coach Bill Fennelly breathed a sigh of relief.
“It’s a little different,” Fennelly said of the Cyclones’ current position. “You’re never sure until you see your name. But this year, it’s more where are you going to end up, the seeding.”
The uncertainty leads Fennelly to become somewhat of an armature bracketologist.
“I’m kind of a numbers guy at heart,” he said. “So, I’m looking at it trying to figure it out.
“Not just for us, but I’m curious about our league and what’s going to happen in general.”
Top-ranked Baylor, which beat Iowa State three times this season, is expected to be the No. 1 overall seed.
“I think we’ve proven that we are a pretty special team,” Cyclones center Anna Prins said, “and we have the capability of going pretty far in the tournament.”
For Prins, the journey begins with tonight’s selection show.
“They’re naming off all these teams and you’re just sitting there waiting for Iowa State to pop up on the screen,” she said. “It’s always a little nerve-wracking.”
The Hawkeyes’ Morgan Johnson is more laid back than some of her teammates.
“I try not to think about it,” Johnson said. “I know (Iowa point guard) Samantha Logic is obsessed with knowing who needs to win, where and what.
“I’m just like, ‘It’s out of my control. Whatever happens, happens. Leave it up to God and the rest of mankind to figure it out.’<TH>”
Johnson expressed little doubts about whether the Hawkeyes will make their sixth straight NCAA appearance.
“We’re pretty confident,” the senior center said. “We had a great pre-conference record and we beat some really good teams.
“I just think with our resume, and 20 wins, we have a pretty good chance of being in.”
Crème debunks the notion that Iowa will receive special consideration because it is a host school.
“People bring that up all the time,” he said. “There’s a lot of integrity in this process. These people take their jobs very, very seriously. It would be bad if it were ever revealed some way that economics were the difference.’’
Johnson said playing at home could help Iowa make a move through the brackets.
“Any opportunity to play in Carver is a bonus for us,” she said. “I’ve played in other NCAAs, where the (home) team has had that little flow. So it is really exciting. I think it’s a definite, large advantage for us.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball