Top-ranked battle awaits NIU in Iowa

By Todd McMahon

Last November’s “Super Tuesday” carried Bill Clinton all the way to the top, as in the White house.

Last Tuesday’s NIU upset of then-No. 21 De Paul carried the Huskies all the way to the top, as in this week’s Associated Press’ Top 25 poll at No. 24.

Now, will another Tuesday prove to be ‘super’ for Jane Albright-Dieterle’s quickly-rising women’s basketball squad?

That question will be answered in earnest at 7:30 tonight when NIU (10-2) faces its toughest challenge ever—a matchup with third-ranked Iowa (12-1) at Iowa City.

Although the Huskies have been winners of their last eight games, problems await them in their quest to receive even more national recognition.

First, the defending Big Ten Conference champions are well on their way to repeating league bragging rights with a 5-0 mark this year. Indiana, which was No. 23 last week, was the Hawkeyes’ latest victim, falling 79-50 as Toni Foster (15.2 points a game) tallied 16 points.

Second, the Hawkeyes have been led into battle each and every night the last 10 years by C. Vivian Stringer, who is Iowa’s all-time winningest coach in both men’s and women’s basketball with a record of 222-57.

In addition, Stringer places fifth nationally for wins by an active coach with a 21-year overall mark of 473-108 and third in career winning percentage (.814).

Finally, Iowa boasts even more of a following from its local fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena than the Huskie faithful at Chick Evans Field House. The Hawkeyes finished fifth in the country a year ago with a home-court average of 4,429 and are drawing just under 3,000 per game this year.

“We’re not supposed to win,” said Albright-Dieterle of tonight’s meeting. “It’s kind of fun to be an underdog. I can’t wait to go to Iowa. Hopefully, we’ll take some red and black out there.”