Second-seeded Hawkeyes host Mercer

IOWA CITY — The NCAA Division I women’s basketball brackets were announced on Monday and the University of Iowa women were selected as the No. 2 seed in the Greensboro Regional and will host the first two rounds of the tournament at Carver-Hawkeye arena.

It’s the first time the Hawkeye women have been a 2-seed since 1996 and only the third time in program history.

Iowa junior Makenzie Meyer said it was almost surreal finding out the team’s seeding.

“It was so cool,” she said. “You grow up watching up the selection show. To see us pop up as a two seed, it’s special to be one of the top eight teams in the nation.”

The Iowa women won the Big Ten Conference tournament and finished second in the regular season to Maryland, who the Hawkeyes beat in the tournament finale. Along with finding out their seeding, the Iowa women also celebrated their Big Ten tournament victory with fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday afternoon.

“It was great. It’s one thing to share it with your team, but now to share it with all of our Hawkeye fans, it makes it all the more special,” Hawkeye head coach Lisa Bluder said.

Iowa (26-6) will host No. 15 seed Mercer (25-7) in the first round on Friday at 1 p.m. in Iowa City. The Bears won the Southern Conference Tournament for a second-consecutive year and carry a 17-game winning streak into Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mercer beat Furman, 66-63, in their tournament finale to earn the automatic bid. This will be the first time the Hawkeyes and Bears have ever met.

Iowa senior Megan Gustafson, the Big Ten Player of the Year and ESPNW National Player of the Year, said having a chance to play possibly two more games in front of the home crowd makes the grind of the entire season worth it.

“It’s incredible. Having two more games at Carver is special,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is going to want to play us on home court.”

The winner of Friday’s matchup will move on to Sunday’s round of 32 game where they will take on the winner of the No. 7 seed Missouri and No. 10 seed Drake.

The game between Iowa and Mercer on Friday will be broadcast on ESPN2.