For the second year in a row, the University of Miami women’s basketball team will have to play a lower seed on its home court on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
The No. 8 seed Hurricanes open Sunday night against No. 9 seed Iowa at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
The game is at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
“Unfortunately, we have to have the mentality of playing on someone’s home court,” said University of Miami coach Katie Meier. “That is just part of the women’s game and driving attendance and peak interest. We’ve done it before and we’re going to have to do it again. They’re sleeping in their own beds and we have to be 10 points better than Iowa before we leave Coral Gables.
“But, this is a seasoned team and we’ve played some great road games. I’m just excited to have an opportunity to play again”
Iowa (20-12), finished 8-8 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes struggled through a five-game losing streak in early February, but wound up winning four of their final six games. Iowa lost at FIU in November, and lost to Penn State, which Miami beat.
If the Hurricanes can get past the Hawkeyes, they face the winner of the game between No. 1 seed Notre Dame and No. 16 Tennessee-Martin.
Playing the Irish (31-1) on a neutral court would work in Miami’s favor, assuming both teams reach the second round.
“That’s the only No. 1 seed that doesn’t have home court,” UM senior Morgan Stroman said. “The fans bring a different atmosphere to a game and I think it could be good to possibly play them at a neutral site.”
This is the first time in school history that the UM women have earned three consecutive NCAA tournament bids. The Hurricanes finished the season with a 21-10 record, with signature wins over Duke and Penn State.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder is not familiar with the Hurricanes. “I don’t know much about them, except I know their coach, she is from Wheaton, Ill., and went to the same high school my husband went to, that’s all I know.”
Last year at this time, the Hurricanes were ranked eighth in the AP Poll and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They had hopes of reaching the Final Four. But they traveled to Spokane for their first-round game without all-ACC guard Riquna Williams, who was left home for disciplinary reasons. The Canes won their opener easily, 70-41 over Idaho State. But they lost in the second round to No. 11 seed Gonzaga, which was playing on its home court.
Meier said the team will travel late Friday afternoon, after watching the UM men’s team on TV in its NCAA Tournament opener against Pacific.