The Michigan women’s basketball team (9-9 Big Ten, 17-12 overall) opens up its Big Ten Tournament bracket as the No. 8 seed, facing No. 9 seed Iowa on Thursday at noon.

The Wolverines’ .500 record tied them with Nebraska for seventh place in the conference, but the Cornhuskers won the tiebreaker having beaten Michigan in the regular-season matchup. Michigan had the opportunity to climb all the way to No. 6 spot this weekend, but a road loss to Rutgers thwarted that chance.

Regardless, the bracket includes all 14 teams, and the Wolverines earned a first-round bye to meet a familiar Hawkeyes team (8-10, 18-12) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The two sides played each other twice in January, just three weeks apart. The first game was in Ann Arbor, where Michigan stormed back from a 17-point deficit to win, but in the second contest on the road, the Wolverines lost by 16.

Ranked as high as No. 19 in the country at one point in December, Iowa struggled in conference play and finished lower than it has traditionally.

“(Iowa is) similar to us in (having) a lot of young kids making an impact for them,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “We think it will be a great opportunity for us on Thursday.

“It’s nice to play someone that you’ve had the opportunity to play a few times before.”

A first-round bye at the Big Ten Tournament gives any team an advantage, but the prize for the winner of the Iowa-Michigan game is not as helpful. A date with Maryland, the Big Ten regular-season champion and No. 5 team in the country, awaits the unlucky winner on Friday.

Michigan plays Iowa at 12:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 3, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.

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