Iowa is one of only 13 programs that’s playing in its sixth consecutive NCAA tournament, but those March memories haven’t often been very pleasant.
After suffering upset losses in the second round the past two seasons, Miami’s experiences haven’t been very positive either.
The ninth-seeded Hawkeyes should at least have the crowd on their side Sunday in Iowa City as they face No. 8 Miami for the likely right to earn a date with one of the nation’s powerhouse programs.
Iowa and Miami have a lot of similarities. Both teams have registered big wins and weathered tough stretches, and they both have the flexibility to score inside and outside.
The Hawkeyes (20-12) once had more wins against ranked opponents than any other team in the country. But Iowa lost six of seven games later in the season before pulling a few wins out at the end to secure the NCAA bid.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder was savoring the opportunity to play at home, where the Hawkeyes ranked in the top 20 in attendance this season. She planned to have the team over to her house for lasagna and chicken.
“This afternoon was kind of weird,” Bluder said Saturday. “I’m at home cleaning my kitchen. Not sure if that’s what most coaches are doing during NCAA tournament time.”
Miami coach Katie Meier once dreamed of playing for the Hawkeyes as a high school guard in Wheaton, Ill., after two of her sisters and a brother attended school at Iowa.
Meier ended up at Duke after then-Iowa coach Vivian Stringer didn’t offer a scholarship. Meier admitted she probably wasn’t good enough.
“I’m not bitter,” Meier joked. “I still have the letter - no, just kidding, I don’t.”
Iowa is led by senior center Morgan Johnson, who averages team highs of 14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. To Meier, though, it’s the Hawkeyes’ fourth-leading scorer, sophomore guard Samantha Logic (9.0 ppg), who could be key.
Logic’s 26-point, nine-rebound performance in a 72-52 win at Purdue on Feb. 17 particularly stood out.
“Samantha Logic is incredibly important,” Meier told Iowa’s official website. “That Purdue game, they are unbeatable when she plays that way. I thought that was one of the best responses by a women’s basketball team the entire season … they were determined to win that game, and that’s what kind of launched them into the postseason.”
The Hurricanes are led by Morgan Stroman (12.8 ppg) and Stefanie Yderstrom (12.0), but have four other players averaging at least 6.0 points.
Miami has been a No. 3 seed in the last two NCAA tournaments but was upset in the second round each time. Stroman certainly did her part in last season’s 88-83 loss to Oklahoma, finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Iowa, meanwhile, has won just one game during its run of five straight tournament appearances. It fell to eighth-seeded Cal in the first round a year ago, when, just like this year, a victory would have given it a shot against top-seeded Notre Dame.
That matchup, of course, is assuming the Irish can get past Tennessee-Martin in Sunday’s first game in Iowa City.