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It’s just a number, Iowa coach Lisa Bluder tried to insist, but she also knew the significance of being one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

The Hawkeyes, the No. 2 seed overall in the 68-team tournament, are the top seed in the Albany Regional 2 bracket and will play their first two games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa (29-4) will play Saturday against Thursday’s winner of the First Four game between Holy Cross and UT-Martin. Eighth seed West Virginia will play ninth seed Princeton in Saturday’s other first-round game.

It is the third time in program history the Hawkeyes have been a No. 1 seed, joining the 1988 and 1992 teams to have the honor.

“The No. 1 seed was something that I just think gives credit to our program,” Bluder said Sunday night after the bracket was announced. “It establishes us as one of the very best teams in America. And so it's just a credit, a recognition which I'm very happy about, but it's just a number right?”

The Hawkeyes advanced all the way to the national championship game as a No. 2 regional seed last year, Bluder pointed out.

“So we know No. 1 seeds don’t guarantee anything,” she said.

“It was really exciting,” forward Kate Martin said. “We've been ranked with so many different numbers this year, so we don't really look at the rankings or care too much about them. But when I saw the 1 by our name, I was pretty excited about that. It's just really cool.”

Iowa surged into its No. 1 seeding with a win over then-No. 2 Ohio State to close the season, and then winning the Big Ten Tournament title by winning three games in a 48-hour period.

“It’s pretty impressive,” guard Caitlin Clark said of the seeding. “And I think it just speaks to how we've been playing basketball lately.”

The bracket is full of plenty of familiar names. The Hawkeyes played No. 4 seed Kansas State twice and No. 10 seed Drake once in the nonconference schedule. Iowa beat No. 5 seed Colorado and No. 6 seed Louisville in last season’s tournament, and lost to No. 3 seed LSU in the championship game.

“A lot of familiarity, for sure,” Clark said. “I think that’s what makes it fun, those storylines and familiarity.”

“I was a bit surprised by Kansas State, just because I've always heard that (the tournament selection committee) doesn’t like you to play against somebody so early that you've already played, and we played them twice already this year,” Bluder said. “But definitely a lot of familiar faces, with Colorado in there and LSU. But I think that’s OK.”

Bluder gave the Hawkeyes some time off since last Sunday’s overtime win in the Big Ten Tournament championship game.

“They were exhausted, our staff was exhausted,” Bluder said. “We took Monday and Tuesday off, we practiced well Wednesday and Thursday, then gave them Friday and Saturday off. I wanted them to have a reset because now today we practiced and now let's go. There’s not going to be any time for breaks.”

Bluder isn’t sure guard Molly Davis, who was injured in the final regular-season game, will be available next weekend.

“She’s not on crutches, but she’s still limping,” Bluder said. “That’s not a good sign. I was hoping she'd be further along by now than she is. I'm not saying that she will or won't play this weekend. I don't know. But it's not as good as I was hoping it would be by now.”