Iowa, Iowa State Women Host Opening Rounds, Eye Sweet 16 Battle

Written By Brandon Hurley on March 15, 2022

Much of the state’s fanbase immediately turned its attention to the Greensboro Region once Women’s March Madness brackets were revealed Sunday.

Second-seeded Iowa (23-7) and the third-seeded Iowa State Cyclones (26-6) are primed to meet in the Sweet 16 if things go as planned.

Iowa is ranked No. 8 nationally in the final AP Poll before the NCAA Tournament. Iowa State is No. 10.

The state teams are both hosting the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, rewards for impressive seasons. The Big Dance begins Wednesday with the First Four games in Columbia, SC, and Ames. The first round starts Friday for both Iowa and Iowa State.

  • The Hawkeyes will face off against 14th-seeded Illinois State (19-13) at 3 p.m. Friday in Iowa City. This marks Iowa’s fourth time as a No. 2 seed, and the second time since 2019. The Hawks are 8-3 all-time as a two-seed.
  • Iowa State enters the tournament as one of the top teams in the country, drawing the third seed in the Greensboro Region. The Cyclones host No. 14 seed University of Texas-Arlington (20-7) at 9 p.m. Friday in Ames.

How to see Women’s March Madness in person

For Iowa State — Tickets are available for the First Four, plus the first and second-round games Friday and Sunday in Ames through the Iowa State ticket office. Tickets start at $20. ESPNU will televise the Iowa State vs. UT-Arlington game.

For Iowa — Tickets for Iowa’s opening-round game Friday and a potential second-round matchup Sunday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena are available at HawkeyeSports.com. Single-game tickets start at $16 for adults and $8 for children. Additionally, ESPN will televise Friday’s game.

DraftKings in Iowa is offering a 50% profit boost on Women’s March Madness futures. They have a separate NCAA Tournament offer for individual game bets as well.

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How Iowa made it to Women’s March Madness

Big Ten Player of the Year Caitlin Clark helped guide Iowa to the program’s first-ever double dip. They secured a share of the regular-season Big Ten title as well as the Big Ten tournament championship.

Clark poured in 41 points in a win over Nebraska during the Big Ten tourney, igniting the historic run to a title. She averaged 22.6 points during the three games, aided by an average of 9.3 rebounds per contest.

Consequently, the Hawkeyes also received a big boost from forward Monika Czinano in recent weeks.

The senior recorded an impressive double-double in the Big Ten tournament championship win, pouring in 30 points to go with 10 rebounds. She’s averaging 21.1 points per game while knocking down shots at a 67.8 percent clip.

The Hawkeye women have won seven straight games, including four wins over ranked teams. The electric Clark leads the nation with 27.4 points per game while also leading the country in passing with 7.9 assists per game.

What to know about Iowa’s opponent

Illinois State reached the NCAA tournament thanks to an automatic bid after winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship Sunday. The Redbirds defeated UNI, 50-48, Sunday.

Juliunn Redmond leads Illinois State at 17.5 points per game and 3.2 assists per contest.

In addition, DeAnna Wilson averages 13.4 points per game and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds per game.

As a result, the Redbirds finished fourth in the MVC regular-season standings and likely would’ve been left out of the Big Dance if not for their three consecutive conference-tourney wins last week in Moline.

Oddly enough, Illinois State had lost four of its past five prior to its run through the MVC tournament.

The Cyclones are rolling toward Women’s March Madness

The Ashley Joens-led Clones have set school records for most wins in a season (26) and most Big 12 wins in a season (14). Iowa State finished second in the regular-season conference standings, consequently.

Iowa State’s Joens averaged 23 points and 13.5 rebounds during the Big 12 tournament. She’s averaging a near triple-double this season, tallying 20.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg, and 7.1 assists per contest.

Moreover, the Cyclones have won five of their last seven after beginning the year with a 16-1 record.

This is Iowa State’s fourth time as a No. 3 seed in its history.

Getting to know Iowa State’s opponent

UT-Arlington snagged an automatic bid thanks to its Sun Belt Conference tournament championship victory over Troy, 76-61.

Sun Belt Player of the Year Starr Jacobs leads the Lady Mavericks with 21.1 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per contest. She’s nailing shots at a 54.7 percent clip.

Impressively, UT-Arlington has won 11 of its last 13 games, recovering from a 9-5 start.

What’s at stake for the Iowa teams

  • If Hawkeyes win Friday, they will play the winner of seventh-seeded Colorado (22-9) and 10th-seeded Creighton (20-9) Sunday in Iowa City.
  • The Cyclones would host the winner of sixth-seeded Georgia (20-9) and 11th-seeded Dayton or Depaul Sunday in the second round if they win their opener.

A rare Cy-Hawk battle in the Sweet 16 awaits if the two schools make it through the opening weekend.

Iowa State beat Iowa, 77-70 on Dec. 8 in Ames. Accordingly, Joens tallied a double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds while also adding six assists.

Likewise, Clark nearly produced a triple double herself, chipping in 26 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists in addition to three assists and two steals.

Unfortunately, a likely date with the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, South Carolina, awaits the winner of the riveting Sweet 16 matchup. The Gamecocks (29-2) are led by Player of the Year candidate Aliyah Boston. She averages a double-double with 16.8 points per game and 12 rebounds per contest to go with a team-best 2.6 blocks per game.

The Women’s Final Four is set for April 1 in Minneapolis.

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Photo by Sue Ogrocki / Justin Hayworth / Charlie Neibergall
Brandon Hurley Avatar
Written by
Brandon Hurley

Brandon Hurley is an award-winning editor of the Jefferson Herald in west-central Iowa. He's covered national sporting events such as NBA All-Star Weekend, the Big Ten football championship and the NBA Finals. He previously worked as sports editor at Jefferson Herald and the Boone News-Republican and wrote for the Dickinson County News in Spirit Lake, IA. Hurley possesses a double major in journalism and sports studies from the University of Iowa.

View all posts by Brandon Hurley