The University of Iowa is hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 24 and 26.
Iowa (16-9, 5-6), on a four-game losing streak, now has to imagine the possibility that four teams not nicknamed the Hawkeyes could be playing on those dates in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and Iowa might be battling in the WNIT.
“Obviously, you try not to think about it because we still have games left, we still have the opportunity to make it,” Iowa senior Jaime Printy said. “At the same time, yeah, that would be terrible.
“I don’t even want to think about that.”
Stopping the losing streak won’t be easy. Iowa hosts No. 8 Penn State (20-3, 10-1) at 7 p.m. tonight and travels to No. 18 Purdue (18-5, 7-3) on Sunday.
After this week, Iowa has just three more regular-season games — at Nebraska (18-6, 8-3), vs. Indiana (10-14, 1-10), and at Northwestern (11-13, 3-8).
“Our coaches have been really realistic with us,” Printy said. “They are telling us we have to win a couple more if we want a chance at it.
“I think being a senior, being in this position before, we know what we have to do. It’s not really putting pressure on us, it’s being realistic because we need to know what’s at stake.”
On the plus side for Iowa, despite its recent slide, it remains strong with a 33 RPI, per http://rpiratings.com. The last “bracketology” by ESPN, done Monday afternoon, still had Iowa penciled in as a No. 7 seed.
“We know we need some wins,” sophomore Samantha Logic said. “But we’re not intimidated by needing wins at all. It just needs to be done. We’re ready to get going. … We can definitely do this.”
The Hawkeyes go into tonight’s game against the Big Ten leaders with a 6-0 record against Top 25 teams this season.
“There is nothing for us to be scared of,” Logic said. “They are a Top 10 team in the country. We probably don’t have expectations from anyone. But Wisconsin beat them. Any team in the Big Ten can be beat any night.”
Logic was right. The lone blemish in the league for the Nittany Lions was a 63-61 loss at Wisconsin, a team they had beaten by 44 points at home.
Iowa had Penn State on the run last season before the Nittany Lions closed the game in University Park, Pa., on a 20-2 run.
“We have to play 40 minutes,” Logic said. “We just need to put two good halves of basketball together. Last year against Penn State, we played 36 great minutes.”
The Lions boast one of the most prolific shooters in the country in junior guard Maggie Lucas. She averages 19.7 points per game and shoots 48.9 percent from 3-point range (67-of-137).
She is tied with ex-Hawkeye Lindsey Meder (261) on the all-time Big Ten list for 3-pointers.
Slowing Lucas and the Nittany Lion offense is only half the battle. Penn State averages 11.8 steals per game and forces opponents into 20.6 turnovers.
“They’re just a really good pressure defensive team,” Bluder said. “It’s just really good on ball pressure defense. They don’t play much zone.”
Printy said Iowa has seen great defenses this season.
“We’ve seen teams this year that have done that to us,” Printy said. “We’ll be ready for it. We know what to expect.”
No. 8 PENN STATE at IOWA
When, where: 7 p.m. today at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
TV: None. (It will be rebroadcast as a “Student U” production at 10:30 a.m. Friday on BTN.)
Radio: KXIC 800-AM.
Note: Game is “Go Red for Women,” so fans are encouraged to wear red. First 500 fans will get a T-shirt and trading cards.
Also: Midwest One Bank has bought 2,500 tickets, which are available at its Johnson County branches while supplies last.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball