Iowa Women’s Basketball: How the #2 Team Does in NCAA Tournament

Iowa Women’s Basketball: How the #2 Team Does in NCAA Tournament
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

Few teams in America enter the Thunderdome that is March Madness with the type of hype the Iowa Hawkeyes have garnered, thanks to the Herculean exploits of guard Caitlin Clark.

The senior out of Dowling Catholic in West Des Moines has a throng of fans, especially young girls, and is the source of much interest in Iowa sports betting.

Clark’s list of accolades is enormous, so we will just say Clark is now the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader (men’s and women’s basketball). Her four-year total of 3,771 points surpassed LSU legend Pete Maravich’s previous record of 3,667 points between 1967-68 and 1969-70.

With another Big Ten Tournament championship already secured, the Hawkeyes aim for their first national championship trophy.

ESPN BET Iowa is riding high on Iowa’s chances this spring — with the second-best title odds (+475) of any team in the nation, behind South Carolina’s -130.

Using, — your source for Iowa betting apps — examined the past 10 years of outcomes for teams landing in the No.2 spot in the Associated Press poll going into the NCAA Tournament. Based on this data, the Iowa women’s team has a 60% chance of at least reaching the Final Four — 30% of teams lost in Final Four, 20% lost in Championship game, 10% of teams won the NCAA Tournament. Note: This does not include the 2019-2020 season.

NCAA Tournament: How Far Does No. 2-Ranked Team Go?

Tournament OutcomeResults
Lost Final Four30%
Lost Championship20%
Lost Sweet 1620%
Lost Elite Eight10%
Lost Second Round10%
Won Tournament10%

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One in 10 at No. 2 Has Won Title

The team ranked No. 2 entering the event has gone on to win the tournament 10% of the time, which is the same percentage as the number of teams that have flamed out in the second round and Elite Eight rounds.  

The highest percentage of second-ranked teams (30%) wound up losing in the Final Four. Twenty percent lost in the championship game and Sweet 16.  

One thing that should calm Iowa fans’ nerves is the fact Clark and company have been among the hottest teams in the nation all year long, with a 29-4 mark overall and six consecutive wins dating back to their victory over Illinois on Feb. 25.  

Throw in Iowa’s three wins in as many days at the 2024 Big Ten Tournament, capped off by a 94-89 overtime thriller over Nebraska on Sunday, and you have all the data points you need to know Lisa Bluder’s squad enters March Madness as primed and ready to roll as any team in the nation.  

The issue is March is known for anything but its ease of navigation, with a litany of teams ensnarled by someone that got hot at the right time. Anything can happen once the ball is tipped in the 68-team tournament. 

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No. 2 Teams NCAA Tournament Results

2022-23IndianaLost in second round
2021-22StanfordLost in Final Four
2020-21StanfordWon championship
2018-19UConnLost in Final Four
2017-18BaylorLost in Sweet 16
2016-17Notre DameLost in Elite Eight
2015-16 Notre DameLost in Sweet 16
2014-15 Notre DameLost in championship
2013-15 Notre DameLost in championship
2012-13Notre DameLost in Final Four

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Since 2013, the No. 2-ranked team in the final regular season AP poll has lost in the championship game twice (Notre Dame in 2014 and 2015), with three teams losing in the Final Four (Notre Dame in 2013, UConn in 2019 and Stanford in 2022) and two more falling in the Sweet 16 (Notre Dame in 2016 and Baylor in 2018).  

The only No. 2 team to win it all was Stanford (2020-21).

For Clark and the Hawkeyes, the Last Dance of women’s basketball’s heartland heroes begins later this month, with Iowa looking to bring home a national championship at long last in the final year of Clark’s legendary run in Iowa City.

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Christopher Boan

Christopher Boan is a lead writer at specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.