It's good to be a Hawkeye hoops fan right now. After a pair of wins over Michigan State and Ohio State, Lisa Bluder's Hawkeyes are moving on up in the rankings. Iowa rose two spots to #14 in this week's new AP rankings, making them the second-highest ranked Big Ten team in the country (behind Maryland at #7).
That's good, but it turns out the NCAA selection committee thinks even higher of the Hawkeyes. The selection committee released their top 16 overall seeds and what the top four seeds would look like in each region if the season were to end today -- and Iowa is very well-positioned.
#ncaaW Top 16 Seeds!— NCAA WBB (@ncaawbb) February 12, 2019
(as of today) pic.twitter.com/KnHRsgVtx4
They would be the 10th overall seed, per this release, which works out to a #3 seed. The projected bracket has them in the Portland regional, along with Oregon, NC State, and Gonzaga.
On paper, that looks like a friendly draw -- Oregon is the third-strongest #1 seed (though still very, very good, obviously), NC State is the weakest of the #2 seeds, and Gonzaga is the second-strongest of the #4 seeds. There's a lot to like about that draw.
The Portland Region refers to where the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games would be played, of course. In the women's NCAA Tournament, top-4 seeds host the opening two rounds. Iowa is in excellent position right now to host games in the first and second rounds and, as a 3-seed, they'd be slotted as clearly the best team in their pod (featuring a 3, 6, 11, and 14 seed).
Speaking of mock brackets... ESPN's latest mock (released yesterday) has Iowa as a #3 seed in the Portland region, hosting Wright State. Texas and Rice are the other teams projected in their mini-pod. College Sports Madness' latest mock (also released yesterday) has Iowa as a #4 seed, in a pod with Kentucky, James Madison, and VCU. And High Post Hoops' latest mock (released a few days ago) has Iowa as a #3 seed, in a pod with Miami, Missouri, and Stephen F. Austin.
There's still a lot of basketball to go before the women's NCAA Tournament gets locked into place and announced on Selection Monday. That said, it might be challenging for Iowa to climb much higher than a #3 seed. They're currently 11th in the RPI rankings and their five losses are tied for the second-most among teams in the RPI Top 15. Iowa would likely need to win the Big Ten and/or do well in the Big Ten Tournament to climb higher than a #3 seed -- and even that's no guarantee, given that 22-2 Maryland (current Big Ten leader) is also projected as a #3 seed right now. (The Terps are lower than Iowa in the RPI rankings, down at #17.)
Still, whether Iowa can crack the #2 seeds or not, they're still having a tremendous season and they're still on pace for plenty of exciting things ahead. They have a real opportunity at a Big Ten regular season title and they're in very good shape to be a host team for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Megan Gustafson & Co. just need to keep winning and let this excellent adventure keep unfolding.