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Iowa Hawkeyes open ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll

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Iowa Hawkeyes open ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll

The expectations appear pretty clear for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa finished the 2021-2022 women’s college basketball season with a 24-8 overall record and captured a co-Big Ten regular season championship and beat Indiana to win the Big Ten Tournament championship.

Now, the thought is that a team led by star guard Caitlin Clark and star forward Monika Czinano is primed and ready to make a push for a national championship. That much is evident by the Hawkeyes No. 4 preseason ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

The top five looks like this: defending national champion South Carolina is No. 1, fellow 2022 Final Four participant Stanford is No. 2, Texas is No. 3, Iowa is No. 4 and Tennessee is No. 5.

Rounding out the preseason AP top 10, Connecticut is No. 6, Louisville is No. 7, Iowa State is No. 8, Notre Dame is No. 9 and North Carolina State is No. 10.

In addition to Iowa, five other Big Ten members are in the preseason rankings. Indiana is No. 11, Ohio State is No. 14, Maryland is No. 17, Nebraska is No. 22, and Michigan is No. 25.

Iowa head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder embraces the lofty expectations for her squad.

“We have every reason to have high expectations for this upcoming season. We return, in my opinion, the best point guard in the country. Caitlin Clark not only led the United States in points per game, but also led the United States in assists. First time that’s ever been done in the history of women’s basketball.

“Obviously a Naismith finalist, the MVP pre-season and last year’s pick from the Big Ten. We also have one of the best centers in the country. When you think of Monika Czinano has led the United States in field goal percentage shooting at 68% for the last two years, that’s an amazing accomplishment. I always felt if you have a really good point guard and a really good center that you have the opportunity to have a really good year,” Bluder said.

It’s more than just those two superstars for Iowa, though.

“Not only with those two women, but we have all the people around her. We have Gabbie Marshall, who is lethal from three-point range. We have Kate Martin, who I honestly believe can just contribute in so many areas. She’s a great captain, the glue to our team. We have McKenna Warnock at the power four position. Return all five starters from last year.

“We have some newcomers. I think Molly Davis is somebody that you’re really going to hear a lot about. Molly Davis transferred from Central Michigan. She has two years of eligibility left. She is going to give us depth at the point guard, which we did not have last year. We’re extremely excited to have Molly join our team.

“We also have Hannah Stuelke, who is a freshman from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Ranked as one of the top 50 players in the country, Miss Iowa Basketball. We also have Miss Nebraska basketball join our team with Taylor McCabe who is the best three-point shooter ever in Nebraska girls basketball history. We have experience, offense, a great schedule, and we have a great fan base. It’s going to be a fun year for the Iowa Hawkeyes,” Bluder said.

The Hawkeyes are slated to tip off their season on Monday, Nov. 7, at 8:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network Plus versus Southern University.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire



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