Hawkeye women will make 2013 NCAA debut against Miami at Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Friday, March 22, 2013

Coaches look to capitalize on any possible advantage during March Madness. For head coach Lisa Bluder and the University of Iowa women's basketball team, the biggest advantage is the parquet floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa City is one of 16 sites hosting first and second round action in the 2013 NCAA Women's Basketball Championships. The Hawkeyes will have the distinct advantage of playing on their home court with a rowdy black and gold crowd in their corner.

Carver-Hawkeye Arena has proven to be a tough place to play for opponents over the years. During the last six years, Iowa holds a 74-18 record in Carver.

Bluder knows how much her team can feed off a loud and energetic crowd. She can't wait for tip-off on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (CT) for her eighth seeded Hawkeyes against ninth seed Miami (FL).

"The energy level in Carver-Hawkeye Arena is going to be tremendous," Bluder says. "When our team gets tired or is in a close game, we rally around our great fans. The fan base can inspire a team to play its best basketball and keeps them going when they are a little bit tired."

Iowa's loud and proud fan base not only picks up the home team in tight situations, it makes things difficult for the opposition in the same settings.

"Our fans can make Carver an imposing environment for our competition," Bluder said. "Our opponents can't hear their play calls and all of that noise can take other things away as well."

If previous records are any indication of an expected attendance on Sunday, chances are a good crowd will be filling the arena. Iowa enters the NCAA Tournament with the 19th-best attendance mark in the country, averaging 4,401 fans per game. This year marks the third straight season that Iowa has ranked inside the top 20 in attendance.

Iowa last hosted NCAA Tournament action in 2009 and had the fourth-best attended first and second round site among the 16 selected arenas. Iowa City drew 5,615 fans for first round games in 2009, despite having late tip-off times on Sunday evening.

Bluder will never forget the buzz in the arena that night and knows the Hawkeye faithful appreciate good women's basketball.

"That goes to show you what kind of support we get from the Hawkeye fans," Bluder says. "They get excited because this is an opportunity to see national-caliber basketball. How many times do you get to see the opportunity to see the NCAA Tournament in your home city?

"It's wonderful how our fans come out and support this event," Bluder says. "We are greatly appreciative. Every game in the NCAA Tournament is hard. Any advantage helps, and having a great fan base cheering us on is a huge advantage."

The other NCAA tournament game in Iowa City on Sunday features the tournament’s overall number one seed Notre Dame vs. Tennessee-Martin at 4:05 (CT).

Fans can still purchase tickets by calling 1-800-IA-Hawks or by clicking here. For special accommodations to attend the event, call the UI Athletic ticket office at 319-335-9323.