As we barrel into the final few weeks of the season, it seems like a good time to increase our focus on ye olde bracketology and see where the bracket prognosticators think Iowa might be playing in the postseason come March. The good news for Bluder's bunch is that they're sitting in great position to get some favorable positioning from the NCAA selection committee when they draw up the bracket in a few weeks.
We found out a few weeks ago that they were considered basically the 10th overall seed by the selection committee when they released their Top 16 at the time. Since then Iowa hasn't done anything to hurt their standing -- they've gone 2-0 with wins over Illinois and #7 Maryland since then. The Maryland win is obviously a huge feather in their cap -- grabbing a win over a Top 10-ranked opponent was easily their best win of the season to date. Since then Iowa has risen to #8 in the RPI rankings, tops among all Big Ten squads.
Their standing among the bracketologists hasn't changed too much, though. At ESPN, Charlie Creme has them as a #3 seed (facing Arkansas Little Rock) and in a pod with Florida State and Rice. Stanford would be the #2 seed on their half of the bracket. High Post Hoops also has Iowa as a #3 seed (against Stone Cold Stephen F. Austin), with Kentucky and Rice in their pod. NC State is the #2 seed on their half of the bracket. College Sports Madness is the least bullish on Gustafson & Co., slotting them as a #4 seed (against VCU) in a pod with Texas A&M and James Madison. Being a #4 seed also means being in the same half of the bracket as the #1 seed, which is Notre Dame in this scenario. (Notre Dame beat Iowa 105-71 earlier this season. It was not great.)
Barring a significant collapse in the final few games, I think Iowa is in pretty good shape to earn no worse than a #4 seed. They have a very strong resume and that #8 ranking in RPI seems likely to serve them well with the selection committee (though it will fluctuate between now and Selection Monday). As always, getting a Top 4 seed is critical in the NCAA Women's Tournament as it allows a team to host first and second-round games. Iowa is 13-1 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and as we saw against Maryland last Sunday, they can create quite an impressive home atmosphere.
Getting a #2 seed would be nice, but seems likely to be quite difficult. I'm guessing Iowa would need to win its remaining regular season games and win the Big Ten Tournament (with another win over Maryland) to do enough to elbow their way into #2 seed consideration. A #3 seed would still be a very good seed (particularly since it would allow them to avoid a #1 seed until the regional final/Elite 8), especially if they get paired up with the right #2 seed. In the examples above, NC State looks like a much more desirable #2 seed than Stanford. Stanford is ranked 7th in the current AP and Coaches Polls and 5th in RPI; NC State is 9th in the AP Poll, 12th in the Coaches Poll, and 10th in RPI.
Either way: just keep winning, Hawks. This has been a fabulous season already but there's still greater heights it could hit.