More March Madness: Six Iowa Things To Know About The Women’s Bracket

Written By Russ Mitchell on March 1, 2022 - Last Updated on July 22, 2022
women's bracket in March Madness

Ashley Joens. Caitlin Clark. Monika Czinano. Three of the nation’s best scorers lace up their sneakers right here in Iowa. And, they have their teams primed for favorable spots in the women’s bracket.

But first thing’s first. Iowa (20-7, 14-4 in the Big 10) and Iowa State (25-5, 13-4 in the Big 12) have their conference tournaments on the horizon. There’s still time for some Drake and Northern Iowa postseason magic, too.

We’ll get you caught up with six things to know about Women’s March Madness.

1. The Big Ten Conference women’s bracket is already set and the tournament is just about to start.

The bottom four teams in the Big Ten Conference tip off tomorrow in Indianapolis, believe it or not.

As regular-season co-champions, Iowa is comfortably into the quarterfinals with a double-bye. The No. 2 seeded Hawkeyes will face Thursday’s Northwestern-Minnesota winner in a 5:30 p.m. quarterfinal Friday.

The tournament winner gets an automatic bid into Women’s March Madness.

2. The Big Ten and the Big 12 women don’t play in the same calendar window anymore.

We’re accustomed to some overlap with the Big Ten and Big 12 Conference women’s basketball tournaments, but the schedules are different in 2022.

Someone will cut down the nets Sunday at the Big Ten Conference Tournament but the Big 12 Tournament is more than a week away at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. The Cyclones won’t know their tournament seed until Iowa State’s regular season wraps up Saturday at West Virginia.

The Big 12 Tournament begins Thursday, March 10, but Iowa State will have a bye into the quarterfinals on Friday, March 11. The Cyclones would be the No. 2 seed if the season ended today.

3. Iowa State and Iowa are on track to host early-round games.

If the season ended today, the arenas in Ames and Iowa City would be hopping for the postseason.

The Women’s Selection Committee made its last of three seeding reveals at halftime of Monday night’s Baylor-Iowa State game. A top 16-spot gives those programs a chance to host rounds 1 and 2 of the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa State was the No. 6 overall seed, (that likely changed after a 25-point loss at home to Baylor). Iowa surged into the top 16, with a No. 14 overall seed.

Based on the regional assignments, Iowa State would go to Bridgeport, CT. for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. Iowa would go to Wichita, KS.

The Women’s Selection Committee reveal assignments were:

  • Bridgeport Region — 1. North Carolina State, 2. Iowa State, 3. Maryland, 4. Tennessee
  • Greensboro Region — 1. South Carolina, 2. Michigan, 3. UConn, 4. Oklahoma
  • Spokane Region — 1. Stanford, 2. LSU, 3. Texas, 4. Indiana
  • Wichita Region — 1. Louisville, 2. Baylor, 3. Arizona, 4. Iowa

4. The women’s bracket is bigger this year.

Add this to the long-overdue file. The NCAA’s Division I Council followed an external gender equity review recommendation and added four teams to the Women’s NCAA Tournament in 2022. It’s a 68-team field for the first time.

For this year only, they’ll play the First Four games at the relevant “top 16” campus host sites. (Dayton hosts the men’s version of First Four.) A neutral site will then host the women’s First Four games starting in 2023.

Like the men, the First Four features the lowest four automatic qualifiers and the last four at-large recipients.

5. Goodbye, Selection Monday. Hello, Sunday night women’s bracket.

This will take some getting used to. The men’s March Madness field and the women’s March Madness field will be announced on the same night. The men’s bracket will be revealed at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 13, on CBS. The women’s selection committee will reveal its bracket at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

That’s a change from past years. The women’s selection show usually follows the men’s selection show by a full day. The ESPN channels carry all of the women’s NCAA Tournament games

6. Northern Iowa and Drake need the Missouri Valley Conference automatic bid.

Both the Panthers (18-9, 11-5 in the MVC) and Bulldogs (15-12, 7-9) have winning overall records, but Missouri State is the only team in the conference with at-large NCAA hopes.

That makes a trip to the Quad Cities for an automatic bid even more important. The “Hoops in the Heartland” MVC Tournament in Moline, IL, mirrors the Big 12 women’s tournament dates.

  • Opening round — Thursday, March 10
  • Quarterfinals — Friday, March 11
  • Semifinals — Saturday, March 12
  • Championship — 1 p.m. Sunday, March 13 on ESPNU

UNI is third and Drake is in seventh place with games Thursday and Saturday left on the schedule. The Bulldogs can catch Valparaiso for sixth (and avoid the opening round) with two wins and two losses by the Beacons.

It’s possible — Valpo closes the regular season against league leaders Southern Illinois and Missouri State. Drake on the other hand, travels to Evansville and Indiana State. Both of Drake’s hosts are struggling of late and are below the Bulldogs in the standings.

Photo by Charlie Neibergall / AP
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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