There’s plenty of excitement around this Iowa women’s basketball team, so much so that an early release of the NCAA Tournament bracket couldn’t put a damper on the celebration.
The Hawkeyes will be the No. 2 seed, facing 15th-seeded Mercer on Friday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“We get to sleep in our own beds,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We get to have the comfort of staying here in Iowa City and not having to travel. This time of year, you’re starting to get worn down and the last thing you want to do is get on a plane or a bus and go again.”
“It’s just awesome,” Iowa senior forward Hannah Stewart said. “You know we love playing in Carver. We win while in Carver, so it’s just exciting. We know our Hawk fans are going to show up for us and be our sixth man out there on the court.”
“Everybody in the tournament kind of has a feeling where they’re gonna be, so it wasn’t too big of a surprise,” Iowa junior guard Kathleen Doyle said. “I mean with it being leaked, we all tried to stay away from our phones just to make it a little bit more of a surprise, but we kind of knew where we would end up.”
“Being a senior to be able to know that senior night wasn’t our last night playing in Carver,” Iowa senior forward Megan Gustafson said. “Just having one to two more games is gonna be so much fun, especially with our crowd, our atmosphere, I don’t think anyone is gonna want to play us on our home court.”
The Hawks players added they don’t feel a lot of pressure being the 2-seed for a couple of reasons. One, they have All-American Megan Gustafson on their side and two, they have not lost a game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season.