For the sixth straight season, the Iowa women’s basketball team is dancing.
The Hawkeyes were given a No. 9 seed for the upcoming NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and will face eighth-seeded Miami (Fla.) in a first-round game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It says the tradition of this program, the stability of this program. I have to check my numbers, but I think there are only 13 other programs in the United States of America that have done that and we are the only Big Ten university that has done that over the last six years,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “For us, it shows that our program has gotten to a great level -- constant success and stability, and that means a lot.”
First-round action for the Hawkeyes (20-12) and the Hurricanes (21-10) will tip off at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
“I really haven’t seen Miami play this year,” Bluder said. “I know they were in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and I believe Michigan or Michigan State beat them, but I can’t remember for sure. I don’t know much about them, except I know their coach, she is from Wheaton, Ill., and went to the same high school my husband went to, that’s all I know.”
Bluder has led the Hawkeyes to 10 NCAA Tournaments in her 13 years at Iowa. It is the 22nd trip to the Big Dance for the Hawkeyes and they are one of only 13 teams to appear in the last six NCAA Tournaments, joining Iowa State, Baylor, Fresno State, DePaul, Tennessee, Stanford, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, Duke, Georgia, Marist, Texas A&M and Connecticut.
“I’m so blessed to be a Hawkeye and for us to keep this (NCAA) run going -- the tradition of everyone else who has done it, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Iowa guard Jaime Printy, who’s a part of a senior class that will play in their fourth NCAA Tournament. “I’m really proud of my team.”
The Hurricanes finished tied for fourth in the ACC this season and Iowa and Miami share common opponents. Both teams played Penn State, Wisconsin, Florida State and North Carolina. Iowa beat Wisconsin twice and lost to Penn State, Florida State and North Carolina. Miami upset Penn State in Coral Gables and also defeated Wisconsin.
Morgan Stroman and Stefanie Yderstrom were both first-team all-ACC selections. Stroman leads the team with 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Yderstrom also scores 12 points per game.
“A week is plenty, it really is; especially since we don’t have to travel and we have the Sunday game versus the Saturday game, it really does give us a little extra time,” Bluder said about the short preparation for a team they are unfamiliar with. “The coaches are going to be up tonight and watching a bit of game film, we have practice tomorrow afternoon, we’ll practice on Wednesday, and we’re actually going to take Thursday off and go Friday and Saturday again preparing for that Sunday game: Try to make it more of a typical Big Ten week.”
The two teams have played twice in their history with Iowa winning both games in the 1985-86 season.
Iowa is a No. 9 seed for the second straight season and for the sixth time in school history.
“I was nervous. I was probably more nervous than any other year because there is always that chance that you don’t make it,” Printy said. “It does help that we’re hosting and I was excited to find out who we would play and being here in front of our crowd and our fans, it’s going to be fun.”
Iowa will host NCAA Tournament games for the 12th time in program history. The first came back in 1986. The Hawkeyes are 9-5 in NCAA Tournament games played at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“We have so many good things going on this week with our men being in the NIT, but I’m hoping that Hawkeye fans will want to come out to a couple national tournament games here in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this week,” Bluder said. “I hope we get a good crowd. Last time we did host, out of the 16 sites, we were the fourth-highest attended site in America and I would love for us to do something like that again.”
The Iowa-Miami winner will play the winner of the first game in Iowa City between top-seeded and No. 2 Notre Dame (31-1) and 16th-seeded UT-Martin (18-14). The second-round game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena will take place Tuesday.