Hilton set to host first and second rounds of women’s NCAA tournament


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Members of Cyclone Alley and fans at Hilton Coliseum wear gold shirts during the “Gold Rules” basketball game against Kansas on Saturday, Jan. 28. Iowa State upset No. 5 Kansas 72-64. 

Alex Gookin

Iowa State is set as one of 16 preliminary sites to host the first and second rounds of the women’s NCAA tournament next week at Hilton Coliseum.

After a 20-9 (9-9 Big 12) regular season capped off by a 4-2 finish, the ISU women’s basketball team is likely to get a bid to play in the tournament on Monday when the NCAA selection committee announces the field of 64 teams.

ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard says hosting the tournament is a great opportunity for both the Ames community and the women’s team.

“We’ve always had a great response to women’s basketball in this community,” Pollard said. “[The tournament] is good for the community, but the community is also good for us because it gives us a huge home court advantage.”

Iowa State has been a hub for hosting both Big 12 and NCAA events through the years. Ames hosted the NCAA Midwest Regional cross-country meet last fall as well as the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships this season.

Pollard said senior associate athletic director Dr. Calli Sanders does the work to apply and host the events with the help of the event staff. He said Iowa State has established itself as a successful host site for big events and the athletic department is able to financially support events such as the women’s tournament.

Besides bringing in more people to the community and getting more exposure as a host site to outside fans, Pollard said the team could directly benefit from the opportunity as well.

“It helps coach [Bill] Fennelly and his staff because I think it’s something that allows them to be more successful in the tournament,” Pollard said. “If they’re more successful in the tournament that’s going to help recruiting and help our brand.”

Hilton will host the first round of the tournament on March 22 with two games to be determined on Monday. The winners of both games will play in the second round on March 24.

Pollard says he hopes the event runs as smooth as it has in the past and expects another great turnout.

“When we hosted it two years ago, we had the largest first-round attendance of any of the sites,” Pollard said. “That doesn’t go unnoticed by the committee because they know whoever is here will have a great experience.”