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Why Hawkeyes have chance to shock women’s basketball world Tuesday

[ 0 ] March 25, 2013 |

Iowa senior Jamie Printy talks about Tuesday’s NCAA Tournament matchup against Notre Dame:

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Something is missing from the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

“We need a little more madness,” Iowa point guard Samantha Logic said. “Why not start with us?”

The ninth-seeded Hawkeyes will aim for a shocker tonight when they host No. 1 Notre Dame in a second-round game.

Iowa's Samantha Logic splits the defense as she goes to the hoop during the Hawkeyes' first-round NCAA tournament game against Miami at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, March 24, 2013. (David Scrivner / Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Iowa’s Samantha Logic splits the defense as she goes to the hoop during the Hawkeyes’ first-round NCAA tournament game against Miami at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, March 24, 2013. (David Scrivner / Iowa City Press-Citizen)

It will air on ESPN2, starting at 8:30 p.m., and Logic hopes to add a little drama to an otherwise drab postseason.

“I think it’s a huge deal when a No. 1 gets knocked out, even if it’s by a No. 2,” Logic said, “which technically isn’t that huge of an upset.”

Related: Notre Dame counting on Markisha Wright’s future

It will air on ESPN2, starting at 8:30 p.m., and Logic hopes to add a little drama to an otherwise drab postseason.

“I think it’s a huge deal when a No. 1 gets knocked out, even if it’s by a No. 2,” Logic said, “which technically isn’t that huge of an upset.”

While the NCAA men’s tournament boasts a tradition of upstarts — including current bracket buster Florida Gulf Coast — the women tend to follow form.

All the top seeds reached last year’s Final Four. The last time a No. 1 failed to reach the Sweet 16 was 2009, when Duke lost 63-49 against Michigan State.

“I think in the men’s game there is a lot more parity,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said, “where in the women’s game, the top five didn’t really change much all year long.”

The Fighting Irish (32-1) are seeking their fifth Final Four appearance under McGraw. They’ve won 27 in a row since falling 73-61 on Dec. 5 against defending national champion Baylor.

“Every streak comes to an end sometime,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “That has got to get boring, doesn’t it, for them?

“So, you know, maybe they will take it for granted.”

The Hawkeyes (21-12) have beaten seven opponents that were ranked in either the Associated Press or USA Today poll.

History suggests, however, a run through the bracket is unlikely. In the past decade, only one team seeded lower than fourth has reached the Final Four — No. 7 Minnesota in 2004.

“Looking at the bracket yesterday, there were just four upsets,” Iowa center Morgan Johnson said. “(Beating Notre Dame) would just draw the nation’s eyes on us as a program and women’s basketball in general.”

There are three keys to pulling that off:

  • Rebounding: Notre Dame beat opening-round opponent Tennessee-Martin 49-14 on the boards. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes were outrebounded 53-37 by Miami of Florida.

“We just have to execute on boxing out,” Johnson said. “I know that’s really always the answer.”

  • Another stellar performance from Logic: The 5-foot-8 sophomore finished with a double-double (23 points, 11 rebounds) against Miami while maneuvering through the press.

“She’s the key to their team,” McGraw said. “She runs the team… and makes them better.”

  • Defend the post: The Irish are shooting 46 percent for the season, with most of their hits coming in the lane. They shoot a modest 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

“Yes, they are going to take some 3s, and they are definitely going to make some 3s,” Bluder said. “But we would rather have them shooting from there, with a hand in their face, than in the paint.”

Put it all together, and the NCAA Tournament could find its Cinderella.

“We normally play at the level of competition,” Johnson said. “And if that happens, it’s going to be awesome for us.”

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TUESDAY’S GAME

Theairra Taylor on the matchup:

WHO: Notre Dame (32-1) at Iowa (21-12)

WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City

TIPOFF: 8:30 p.m.

TICKETS: $18 (adult) or $13 (youth, student and seniors).

TELEVISION: ESPN2

RADIO: WHO-AM (1040) and the Hawkeye Radio Network.

STAT LEADERS: For Notre Dame – Natalie Achonwa 13.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg; Skylar Diggins 16.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.9 apg; Kayla McBride 15.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg; For Iowa – Morgan Johnson 14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg; Samantha Logic 9.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 6.4 apg; Jaime Printy 12.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.2 apg.

ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: The senior class of Johnson, Printy and Trisha Nesbitt have helped Iowa earn 82 victories during their careers..

ABOUT THE FIGHTING IRISH: Making their 20th NCAA appearance under coach Muffet McGraw, including 18 in a row.

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Morgan Johnson after the first-round victory:

Melissa Dixon after the first-round victory:

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 15 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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