Women hoopsters aim for tourney bid

BY EVELYN LAU | MARCH 10, 2010 7:30 AM

Rob Johnson/The Daily Iowan
Jaime Printy shoots over Samantha Prahalis of Ohio State in Conseco Field House during the Big Ten Tournament championship game on Sunday. Printy, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, scored nine points in Iowa’s 66-64 loss.
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The Iowa women’s basketball team left Conseco Field House in tears after a disappointing 66-64 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game on Sunday.

However, the Hawkeyes (19-13 overall) still have a chance to continue their season with an at-large bid to the women’s NCAA Tournament starting on March 20.

The 64 teams selected — 31 automatic bids, 33 at-large berths — will be announced in a selection show on ESPN on March 15.

After starting the Big Ten season 1-6, Iowa won nine out of its last 11 games to finish third in the conference. As the No. 3 seed, the Hawkeyes made a run to the conference title game, defeating Penn State and No. 23 Michigan State before falling to then-No. 10 Ohio State.

With that late-season run, sophomore Kamille Wahlin said, she thinks the team did enough to earn an invitation to the tournament.

“From what I hear from other people, you know, that we do have a good shot of getting in,” she said. “So hopefully, we proved ourselves in the [Big Ten] tournament that we are capable of playing in the NCAA Tournament.”

Some things considered for determining at-large bids include record, rankings, and strength of schedule. A key element includes Ratings Percentage Index, which ranks teams based on their wins, losses, and strength of schedule.

The Hawkeyes are ranked 43rd in the country.

With the Big Ten boasting formidable teams, head coach Lisa Bluder said she expects at least four teams to make it, including her own.

“I feel confident that we belong there,” Bluder said after the team’s loss to the Buckeyes. “It’s obvious that Ohio State is going to be there, and Michigan State and Wisconsin having such great RPIs and being in the top four in this conference, I think we’ll get four [teams] in.”

Originally, Iowa was considered a squad on the bubble and possibly advancing further into the postseason as one of the final selections. Before the Big Ten Tournament, Bluder said she believed two wins would be enough to help the Hawkeyes’ cause.

With their run, it now seems that Hawkeyes might receive an 11 or 12 seed.

“Two months ago, no one thought we’d be there so that’s a good thing we have going for us,” freshman Jaime Printy said.

Winning 11 of its final 14 games, Iowa has 16 possible locations it could end up at depending on what the 10-person committee decides. ESPN’s women’s bracketologist Charlie Creme predicts the Hawkeyes will be an 11th-seed taking on No. 6 seeded Vanderbilt in Tallahassee, Fla.

The team has made the tournament the last two years. Last season as a No. 8 seed, it suffered a first-round loss to Georgia Tech in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“We haven’t won a first-round NCAA game in a while,” junior Kachine Alexander said. “So, I think that’s definitely going to be another goal of ours. We’ve been playing really well for the last 13, 14 games or so. So I think it’s going to give us a little bit of momentum going in.”

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