As good as Iowa was offensively, it's the defense that's built this lead. They've done an excellent job of challenging NC State's shots in the post. When they've kicked out for threes, the guards have done well in closing those out. Keeping that intensity will be key in the second half.
Everything is going right for Iowa at the moment. The posts are dominating, the guards making threes, and the defense is very good.
Iowa closes out the Big Ten Tournament with a dominant 90-76 victory. Gustafson was the star, but everyone played well for Iowa today. Tremendous victory.
Iowa leads 86-71 with 2:19 to play.
Iowa is 3:53 away from a Big Ten Tournament Championship. They lead 81-67 and are heading to the line for two more after the break. Gustafson has been phenomenal with 45 points and 10 rebounds. Doyle has stepped up her offense in the third and fourth to complement her. Great team defense in the second half.
Iowa starts the fourth quarter well, and they lead by 12 with 7:23 to play. Gustafson is up to 40 points. She's making a wonderful case for being Player of the Year on national television, too.
Iowa gets a couple big defensive stops to end the third, and they bumped a 3-5 point lead up to 9 at 69-60. Gustafson goes to the 4th quarter with 38 points, but 3 fouls. Hopefully she doesn't pick up the fourth for a long while. Doyle came on strong with some offense in the latter half of the quarter to compliment Gustafson.
Gustafson with 3 fouls, which is worrying. Maryland just had their first player foul out of the game. Refs aren't afraid to blow their whistles today.
It's turned into a battle between Gustafson and Charles. Gustafson has 32 and 6, Charles 28 and 4. Both teams shooting very well from the floor.
Foul trouble will also play a huge role in this one. For Iowa, Doyle, Meyer, and Stewart all have 2. Doyle didn't play at all in the 2nd quarter. Some of Iowa's defensive woes can be attributed to no Doyle.
For Maryland, they have four players listed as forwards. Those players have: 4, 3, 2, and 2 fouls. It's not hard to envision Iowa fouling out multiple Maryland forwards, which could make defense on Gustafson even more difficult. Charles (6'1') was guarding her near the end.
After a frantic first half, Iowa leads 51-45 at the break. Gustafson has 26 and 5 to lead Iowa. Charles has 22 points to lead Maryland.
On Iowa's end, Maryland isn't throwing enough bodies at Gustafson, and she's absolutely dominating them. We'll see if they adjust, and if they do, if Iowa's guards can compensate offensively.
On Maryland's end, the big question is will Iowa's defense hold. When it's a half court game, Iowa's done relatively well defensively, though Maryland found a couple open threes late. If Maryland gets in transition, they've been killing Iowa.
The game is a contrast in style right now. Iowa is dominating the half court, while Maryland goes on runs when they can get a few possessions in a row in transition. Hawks still lead 40-31 with around 5 minutes to play in the 2nd quarter. Both teams with multiple players in foul trouble.
Not the best end to the quarter, but Iowa still leads 25-15 after a Tania Davis buzzer beater. The offense and defense still look good. The only big concern was Kathleen Doyle getting two fouls a few seconds apart at the end of the quarter. She's Iowa's best perimeter defender.
Iowa off to a hot start on both ends and they lead 17-7 early. This is the best the offense has looked all year. Gustafson has 9 points early, and Doyle and Meyer have hit threes. They've also drawn 5 early fouls on Maryland. Defensively, Iowa's in a triangle and 2 defense, and it's limited Maryland thus far. Rebounding out of that will be key.
NC State falls to Louisville by 10. They added to their resume yesterday with a win over a tournament team in Florida State, and did fairly well against a top team today.
If Iowa wins tonight, we should stay ahead of them A loss, and it’ll be close.
Syracuse is going to lose big against Notre Dame, so scratch them off the list.
Update: Oregon State lost in the quarterfinal of the Pac 12 Tournament against 11 seed Washington. That'll eliminate them from 2 seed consideration. Our competition now is likely down to North Carolina State and Maryland. NC State plays Louisville in the early afternoon. Maryland plays Michigan before Iowa's game.
Iowa State and Syracuse are still alive in their conference tournaments, too, but are unlikely to jump Iowa. I'm not sure ISU would even by winning the Big 12, because the conference isn't particularly deep with good teams. Syracuse would likely need two more major upsets to get in the conversation.
Of the teams competing with us for the #2 seed, I think Maryland is probably the biggest threat. NC State is facing injuries right now, and they would have to beat a Louisville team that just beat them by 30 to even make the ACC Tournament final. Oregon State has to beat Stanford to make the Pac 12, but if they do there's a chance we could move past Stanford with a deep BTT run. South Carolina is a decent ways back, and would need to upset Mississippi State to really boost their resume.
One other note: it's possible being the #3 seed might actually be better for us. If things ended today, we would've been placed in the Greensboro Regional. The Chicago Regional, I would guess, is our preferred destination. We might be more likely to get that as a 3 seed than a 2 seed.