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Iowa junior all-American Megan Gustafson says the team wants to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. Chad Leistikow / The Register

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IOWA CITY, Ia.— Back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years, Iowa was given a No. 6 seed on Selection Monday and will face 11-seed Creighton at 5 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles.

With a victory, the Hawkeyes would face the winner of No. 3 seed UCLA and No. 14 seed American on Monday. Iowa was placed in the Kansas City Regional.

Forced to deal with a shorthanded roster and injury issues throughout the year, Iowa (24-7) responded with a quality run from November to March. After a 12-1 nonconference showing, Lisa Bluder’s squad jumped right into Big Ten Conference play and kept going.

The early part of conference play was a treacherous stretch, but the Hawkeyes picked up ranked wins over Michigan and Ohio State to keep momentum flowing. When the schedule eased up late, Iowa pounced. The Hawkeyes won their final seven regular-season games and reached the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals before falling to Minnesota.

Injuries to Tania Davis (torn ACL) and Makenzie Meyer (fractured hand) took their toll on Iowa at times, but the Hawkeyes never let an extended stretch of futility materialize.

Much of that is credited to junior standout Megan Gustafson, who has blossomed into one of the country’s elite forwards. The nation’s leading scorer (25.6 ppg) and fifth-leading rebounder (12.7 rpg) was named the media’s Big Ten player of the year and has landed on multiple all-American teams.

The Hawkeyes missed just six NCAA Tournaments from 1986-2015, but felt the bubble sting the last two years. They're more than happy to return to the national stage.   

Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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