Early tip-off Sunday
Coach Lisa Bluder’s talented, young squad starts the dance Sunday morning, 11AM (ESPN), against Central Michigan. The Hawkeyes come in at 18-9 and Central Michigan enters at 18-8. The Hawks are the 5 seed and the Chippewas are the 12. The difference in the seeding is that the Hawkeyes compete in the potent Big Ten Conference, whereas the Chippewas compete in the MAC. Central Michigan has played two common Iowa opponents, losing to both Michigan and Michigan State. The Chippewas won’t be intimidated by playing the Hawkeyes.
Key Central Michigan Players
Central Michigan is very guard-oriented. Here is leading scorer Micaela Kelly getting to the rim against Michigan.
Senior guard Micaela Kelly (5’6”) averages 23.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, while senior guard Molly Davis (5’7”) averages 20.9 / 4.6 / 3.8. Above is an excellent clip to show Micaela Kelly’s quickness, ball-handling, and finishing skill. The Hawks will have to keep her in front of them or she will get her points and dish off easy assists if the help is slow coming over. Chippewas’ third guard is a lights-out shooter - Maddy Watters (awesome, bluesy name) who is coming in hitting on 44% of her three point attempts. She also is a senior. Having experienced guards in March is a luxury. Central Michigan rounds out its starting lineup with two 6’ posts. The Chippewas start 6’0” forward Jahari Smith and 6’1” center Kyra Russell. Both players put up solid numbers in scoring and rebounding. The Chippewas also run some pick and rolls to free up Kelly. She’s ultra-quick and has a knack for scoring the basketball. The Hawkeye’s will need to communicate and slow Kelly playing fundamental team basketball as they don’t have a defender who could shut her down individually.
How the Hawkeyes Will Win the Game
Everyone in the country either knows about Caitlin Clark or will know about Caitlin Clark by the time this tournament is done if the Hawks take care of business. Clark continues to put up spectacular numbers with assists, scoring, and deep threes. For the Hawks to advance Monika Czinano needs to get the basketball in her hands. Good (great) things happen when the ball goes into the post. Czinano is leading the country in field goal percentage. The Hawks have a height advantage and I’d like to see them take advantage of this. Once this has been established, Iowa’s shooters can fire away. The Hawkeyes are able to score points. The days the ball doesn’t go in the basket you need to be able to defend. If the Hawks can get Czinano going, slow down Micaela Kelly, and then let Caitlin Clark do her thing, the Hawks should advance. As we have seen on the men’s side, seedings mean nothing this time of year. Advance or go home. Hawkeye fans aren’t ready to be done with this basketball team. Go Hawks!
Matchup: 12 Central Michigan Chippewas (18-8) vs 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (18-9)
When: Sunday, March 21st at 11:00 am CT
Where: Alamodome - San Antonio, TX
Video Streaming: WatchESPN.com
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network (click to find your local station)
Audio Streaming: TuneIn Radio