As a reward for earning the second seed, the Iowa Hawkeyes enjoyed Wednesday and Thursday off as ten other conference foes were playing the first and second round of the Big Ten Tourney in Indianapolis.
On Thursday, #10 seed Indiana defeated #7 seed Minnesota 66-58 to set up a Friday evening date with Iowa. The winner of that game will have a berth in the final four on Saturday evening.
Iowa (23-6, 14-4) and Indiana (20-11, 9-10) played only once previously this season with the Hawkeyes getting upset in Bloomington 75-73 two weeks ago. In that game, Indiana crowded the lane to prevent Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Gustafson from getting any clean looks. Gustafson was “held” to 26 points which is a couple points below her average.
Indiana shot 12-29 from three-point range so that’s something that I’m sure the Hawkeyes will adjust on Friday. Iowa actually had a 16 point lead midway through the third quarter so they will certainly be anxious to avenge their loss.
The Hoosiers are led by junior guard Ali Patberg and sophomore Jaelynn Penn, as well as junior forward Brenna Wise. All three were named as a second or third team All-Big Ten this year. Patberg averages 15.5 points per game as well as 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Penn averages 14.0 points and has made a team high 49 three pointers. Wise averages 12.1 points and 7.0 rebounds. She is also hitting 92.7% of her free throws.
Iowa is of course led by Gustafson and the other two seniors Hannah Stewart and Tania Davis. Last time the two teams played, junior Kathleen Doyle had 17 points as she was the benefactor of triple teams on Gustafson.
Look for Iowa to challenge the three point line a little more on Friday and attempt to get the Hoosier post players in early foul trouble. If I were to make a line on the game I would say Iowa -7.
The winner tonight will take on the winner of #3 Rutgers and #11 Purdue, which upset Nebraska last night.