Wis.-Green Bay-Iowa St. Preview
The NCAA tournament field in Ames has some head-scratchers in it when it comes to seeding.
One-loss Green Bay is ranked 10th in the country but is a No. 7 seed, and on Saturday night it will have to go through unranked and 10th-seeded Iowa State, which boasts of one of the nation's top home-court advantages.
''I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't disappointed in our seed. At the same, we can't control that - and we've never been about making excuses for ourselves,'' Green Bay coach Matt Bollant said. ''But we can control how well we play, and that's been our focus all week.''
The only knock on Green Bay (30-1) appears to be the league it plays in.
All the Phoenix could do about that was win the Horizon League's regular-season title for the 14th straight time. They also beat the only team that beat them, Detroit, to win the conference tournament.
Green Bay is 4-0 against high-major opponents this season, reached the regional semifinals last season and, in 2010, took the Cyclones to overtime in Ames in the opening round before falling 60-56.
Iowa State (18-12) is back in the tournament for the sixth year in a row, but this isn't the most talented team longtime coach Bill Fennelly has had. Iowa State had to sweat it out before earning an at-large bid, having lost 67-63 to Kansas State in its opening game of the Big 12 tournament.
Unlike Bollant, Fennelly is thrilled with his team's seed simply because it means it's back in the postseason after an up-and-down year.
''Besides my family and maybe Christmas, this is the greatest thing in the world to me - and you can give me any number you want to. Just give me a number,'' Fennelly said. ''If it's 10, I'll take it.''
Where the Cyclones might have an advantage over the smaller Phoenix is 6-foot-2 Chelsea Poppens, who is averaging 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a game. But Iowa State will have its own challenge dealing with Green Bay senior star Julie Wojta, who is scoring nearly 20 points a game along with 10 rebounds and 3.6 steals.
Fennelly compared Wojta to Iowa State men's player Royce White, the multi-skilled star who led the Cyclones past Connecticut in the tournament Thursday night.
''She's a matchup nightmare. I don't know how you figure out who you're going to play on her. She can dominate on the block and she can pull you out and leave you with a broken ankle,'' Green Bay teammate Hannah Quilling said of Wojta. ''She's very good at what she does.''