The Big Ten women’s basketball standings are jumbled.
With three or fewer games remaining in the regular season, six teams are in contention for the top-four seeds in the Big Ten tournament, which begins March 6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Penn State is solidly at the top of the standings with a 12-2 record in league play, followed by Nebraska, Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa and Michigan.
Iowa plays at Michigan at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., a crucial opportunity to create some space within the chaos as these teams embark on the stretch run of the season. The Hawkeyes (20-7, 8-5 Big Ten) are just a half game in front of the Wolverines (17-10, 8-6).
“It’s very important for us,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “That’s the goal right now, for us to finish in the top four and get that first-round bye.”
Bluder’s Bunch had a mid-week bye this week, having last played Sunday in a 74-73 loss to No. 23 Purdue. A win rather than a narrow defeat could have not only furthered Iowa’s hopes of securing a first-round bye in the conference tournament, but also padded its NCAA Tournament résumé.
Saturday is Iowa’s only game with Michigan this season. In terms of tiebreaker scenarios, a win would boost chance of a better berth in the postseason. The Black and Gold will lean on their five starters, all averaging double figures, as the Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring at 79.4 points per game.
Iowa held a 16-point lead at halftime at Purdue, so Saturday’s game against Michigan also represents a chance to bounce back. The Hawkeyes have had success following losses already this season. They won three in a row after falling to Michigan State on Jan. 16, and another three in a row after losing to Nebraska on Feb. 1.
“I think the Purdue loss can take a lot out of you because we did have the lead and it was so close, but we talked about dealing with frustration,” Bluder said. “Losses like that are frustrating, but you have to move on if you want to be successful.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball