WBB: Iowa's Bluder: 'I Feel Good' About NCAA Berth

By Jeff Linder, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Lisa Bluder isn't sweating.

"I feel good about our chances (of making the NCAA tournament), I really do," the University of Iowa women's basketball coach said Thursday.

The NCAA field of 64 teams will be announced Monday (6 p.m., ESPN), and Bluder is confident that her team will be called for the sixth consecutive year.

"We don't have control over it, but I feel good," she said.

Whether the Hawkeyes (20-12) qualify or not, Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be one of 16 first- and second-round sites. First-round game times are 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 24, with the winners playing Tuesday, March 26.

ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme projects the Hawkeyes as a No. 11 seed.

"The Hawkeyes' finish to the regular season and Big Ten tourney was not strong, but they might have done enough against a fairly difficult schedule to make the field on the back end of an unconvincing bubble," Creme said on his brackets page.

Iowa lost five straight games midway through the Big Ten season, but righted its ship somewhat at the end, winning three of its last four regular-season games.

The Hawkeyes finished seventh in the Big Ten at 8-8, won their first-round Big Ten tournament game against Northwestern, then lost in the quarterfinals to Nebraska.

A 10 seed, or even an 11, would be far more advantageous than an 8 or a 9.

If Iowa is on the 8-9 line, it's a virtual sure thing that Notre Dame will be coming to Carver as a potential second-round opponent.

The Irish are sure to be a No. 1 seed, and the other three likely top seeds (Baylor, Connecticut and Stanford) are hosting the first two rounds.

If, as Creme projects, the Hawkeyes are an 11 seed, they will face a No. 6 in the first round. Creme projects that as Florida State, with UCLA facing Montana in the 3-vs.-14 game.

Creme had Iowa listed as a 10 seed until his final "bracketology" Saturday. If Iowa is a 10, then it will face a No. 7 seed in Round 1, with Nos. 2 and 15 colliding in the other game.

Potential 2 seeds coming to Iowa City would be Kentucky and California (which beat the Hawkeyes in the first round last year).

The Hawkeyes have not played since March 8, so Bluder and her staff have begun advance scouting on potential first-round opponents.

"There are about eight teams there's a chance we could play," Bluder said. "It's kind of fun trying to figure it out."

Iowa has qualified for the NCAA 21 times, including nine times in Bluder's first 12 years. The Hawkeyes reached the second round under Bluder in 2001, 2002 and 2010.

THE RESUME

Record: 20-12

Big Ten: 8-8 (7th), quarterfinalist in Big Ten Tournament

RPI: 42 (according to realtimerpi.com)

Strength of schedule: 21

Record vs. top 50: 5-8

Last 10: 4-6

Key wins: Beat Big 12 runner-up Iowa State, defeated Big Ten tournament champion Purdue twice.

Bad losses: At Florida International, home against Northwestern.
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