March 22, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa women's basketball team is playing in late March, and that is never a bad thing.
"We are excited to be here, as everybody is this time of year," said UI head coach Lisa Bluder during Iowa's NCAA news conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday. "When you're playing this time of the year, it's an unbelievable feeling. That is the way our locker room has been the last couple of weeks, very excited to be able to participate in the national tournament."
Iowa is the only Big Ten team, and one of only 14 teams in the country, to have appeared in the last seven NCAA Tournaments.
For the second-straight season, the Hawkeyes are playing in the Big Dance in a familiar place: their home arena.
"It is special to be playing on our home court," said Bluder. "To be here in Carver Hawkeye Arena is extra special for us."
Iowa defeated Miami in the First Round last year. This season, the 19th-ranked Hawkeyes, a No. 6 seed, will face 11th-seeded Marist (27-6, 18-2) from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at approximately 7 p.m. (CT) on Sunday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.
Both teams enter tournament action playing good basketball.
Iowa has won six of its last seven games, while Marist has won 16-of-17.
"We know that Marist is a great opponent," said Bluder. "We're excited about playing them. We know they're kind of eerie similar to us in statistical categories. There has to be only a handful of teams in the United States that have five starters averaging double figures. Two of them going against each other in the first round of the NCAA tournament is quite unusual."
The Red Foxes have advanced to nine-straight NCAA Tournaments. Despite being the higher seed, Iowa recognizes the challenges Marist presents.
"I know my players are really smart and watch a lot of basketball," said Bluder. "They have the utmost respect for Marist. They've watched them play the last couple years, they know about the upsets. Watching the men's tournament the last couple days, seeing all the upsets, if that doesn't get your attention, nothing will. They understand Marist is a good team. I have told them, but they don't need me telling them that."
"It is win or go home," said junior Samantha Logic. "You have to be ready to play for 40 minutes; otherwise you're not going to get another 40 minutes."
The Iowa City First and Second round site is a part of the Louisville region. No. 3 Louisville will take on No. 14 Idaho in the first game on Sunday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 4:30 p.m. (CT) on ESPN. The two winners will meet in the Second Round on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. (CT).
Fans can order tickets by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, visiting the Carver-Hawkeye Arena ticket office, or by visiting hawkeyesports.com.