IOWA CITY - Iowa's hopes of a NCAA tournament bid were realized Sunday when the Hawkeyes were handed an at-large bid to become the ninth-seed in the Mideast Region.
Iowa will face eighth-seed Virginia on Saturday in Storrs, Conn.
"I'm extremely happy to be working (on Sunday night)," head coach Lisa Bluder said. "I truly believed we deserved to be in the NCAA tournament."
Iowa's hopes for a repeat conference championship and automatic NCAA bid ended when the Hawkeyes dropped its opening game to Indiana in the Big Ten tournament.
The Hawkeyes ended the regular season in fourth place and were forced to wait until the NCAA selection committee filled its brackets.
"I'm glad they didnt get hung up on numbers but instead looked at who were the best teams in America," Bluder said.
Iowa was one of five Big Ten teams given at-large bids. Indiana earned the conference's automatic bid.
Hawkeye senior Leah Magner said there was some uncertainty whether Iowa would be heading to the NCAA tournament or if it would be NIT-bound.
"I worried about it but it wasn't something we had control over," she said. "We knew we were going to play again so that was what we focused on. We are going to have to go in as the underdog and prove we are a great number nine seed."
This will be Iowa's second-straight NCAA tournament invite.
Should the Hawkeyes defeat Virginia in the opening round, they will likely face host Connecticut, two-time NCAA tournament champions and favorite to reclaim the title.
Before Sunday's announcement, Bluder said she would prefer to be seeded tenth to avoid facing a top seed on its home court, but now her focus is on Virginia.
"We're just so thrilled to be in," she said. "We hope we get the opportunity to play Connecticut, but Virginia is the number one goal."
Senior Lindsey Meder said she looks forward to the chance to play U-Conn.
"It should be a lot of fun," she said. "What an awesome opportunity. First we are playing Virginia, but if we would play Connecticut what a great opportunity."