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IOWA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HEADS TO INDY

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CAN THE FIFTH-SEEDED HAWKEYES MAKE SOME NOISE?

AP/Charlie Neibergall

After finishing the season with seven-straight wins and a crowning of Megan Gustafson as the Big Ten player of the year, the Iowa women’s basketball team sets its sights on Indianapolis, where it’s a fifth-seed in the Big Ten Tourney.

The Hawkeyes earned a bye and play Northwestern today at 1:25 PM. The 12th-seeded Wildcats took down Wisconsin 68-63 yesterday, surged by Lindsey Pulliam’s 24 points.

Iowa played Northwestern not long ago — the Hawkeyes took down the Mildcats 70-61 on Feb. 11 in Evanston. Pulliam had just 11 points in that one, while Gustafson had a casual 25 points and 16 boards.

Iowa finished with Minnesota and Nebraska in a three-way tie for third place in the conference, each team going 11-5 in the B1G. Iowa’s last loss came against the Huskers, but that was all the way back on Jan. 28.

Iowa is a virtual lock to make the NCAA tourney at this point, so how well the Hawkeyes do from here on is for seeding purposes. As of now, Iowa is 16th in the country in RPI, second-best in the conference behind Ohio State’s No. 6 ranking. ESPN has Iowa as a six seed, playing the first round in Columbia, MO., but the Hawkeyes can easily boost their seeding in Indy and hosting some games in Carver certainly isn’t out of the question here.

The winner of the Iowa-NU matchup will go on to play Minnesota. The Gophers and Hawkeyes split their season bouts 1-1, each team winning on its own home floor. If Iowa were to advance past the Gilded Rodents, it would face No. 1 seed Ohio State, which Iowa already beat on Jan. 25, so winning the whole dang thing isn’t out of the realm of possibility either, especially with a player like Gustafson.

You may notice that Bluder’s Bunch plays at the same time as the men’s team today, which really is a shame. It’s bad enough that these teams are playing on a Thursday afternoon, but having them on at the same time is a tough shake. You can thank the men playing their tourney in New York a week earlier than usual for that.

Because of this, the Big Ten Network is dedicating its resources to cover the men. The women’s games aren’t televised until the semifinal contests on Saturday. For now, you’ll have to tune in on BTN2GO to follow the women’s basketball team. Some regional local networks may carry the games as well, so be sure to check your local listings to see if you can catch some action.

Let’s hope for a solid run here from the Hawkeyes and build some momentum for March.