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NCAA tourney has local flavor

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A pair of local women will be leading their respective teams into the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, which begins today.

Former Superior Spartan Jessica Lindstrom and the UW-Green Bay Phoenix play the Minnesota Gophers today, while former South Shore Cardinal Megan Gustafson and the Iowa Hawkeyes play Creighton on Saturday.

Both games will be Televised live on ESPN2.

UWGB Phoenix

Minnesota ended a two-year NCAA tournament drought when the Gophers (23-8)  were given a No. 10 seed Monday and will face UWGB (29-3) at 4 p.m. today (Friday) in Eugene, Ore.

The winner will face either second-seeded Oregon or Seattle in the second round Sunday.

The Phoenix are led by Lindstrom, who averaged a team-high 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Green Bay earned an automatic bid after winning the Horizon League Championship and will be making its 18th all-time appearance in the NCAA tournament, and for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons.

Minnesota’s 23 wins are its most wins since 2014-15, which was the last time the team made the NCAA field.

The Phoenix and Golden Gophers last met in the 2014 WNIT, with Minnesota winning 62-60. Minnesota leads the all-time series 7-6.

In last year’s NCAA tournament, the 8th-seeded Phoenix fell to No. 9 seed Purdue 74-62 in the first round.

The Phoenix, who have won seven games in a row, own wins over fellow tournament teams Marquette, Arizona State, Dayton and South Dakota State.

Minnesota will be making its 10th appearance in the NCAA tournament, and its first since 2015 when it lost in the first round. The team was 11-5 in the Big Ten and was eliminated in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.

The Hawkeyes (24-7, 11-5) are a No. 6 seed and will play the No. 11 Creighton (18-12, 11-7) at 5 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles inside Pauley Pavilion.

Iowa is 7-5 all-time against Creighton and the teams participated in a closed scrimmage in the fall.

Gustafson’s resume includes Big Ten Player of the Year; third team All-American by ESPNW; first team All-American by Sports Illustrated; second team All-American by College Sports Madness; and second team All-American by USA Today.

Gustafson is Iowa’s first All-American since Sam Logic earned the distinction in 2015.

The Port Wing native is averaging 25.6 points, 12.7 rebounds, and shooting 66.8 percent from the field in 31 games this season. She broke a Big Ten Tournament and Iowa single-game scoring record with 48 points against Minnesota on March 2.

She is the only player in the country averaging 25 or more points and 12 or more rebounds per game. She currently ranks in the top-5 nationally in eight statistical categories. She leads the nation in points per game (25.6), field goal percentage (66.8), and field goals made (308), and ranks second in total points (794) and double-doubles (27), and is fifth in rebounds per game (12.7), rebounds (394), and defensive rebounds per game (9).

This year marks Iowa’s 25th trip to the NCAA Tournament and its first since making the Sweet Sixteen in 2015.

Creighton is making its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and second straight trip to the tournament.

The BlueJays bowed out in the second round of the Big East tournament, falling top-seeded Marquette, 76-70.

Creighton has lost three of its last four games. The teams have four common opponents: Drake, Northern Iowa, Florida State, and Nebraska.

Senior forward Chase Coley is the only Hawkeye with NCAA Tournament experience.

In 2015 against American, Miami (Fla.), and Baylor, Coley played 19 minutes with 10 points, three rebounds, a blocked shot, and an assist.