With a win against Northwestern Saturday, IU women’s basketball greatly enhanced its NCAA Tournament résumé.
IU Coach Teri Moren said going into the game that her team needed home wins against quality opponents like Northwestern, and IU got one in dominating fashion.
IU has now won its last two games and has another game with NCAA Tournament implications coming Thursday at home against No. 20 Michigan.
IU can live up to preseason expectations by ending the regular season on a high note.
Currently, the Hoosiers are squarely on the bubble and are listed on the outside looking in of ESPN’s most recent NCAA Tournament predictions. Moren has said with the season winding down things are a bit different in terms of the stakes.
“It’s every day reminding them — and it’s not pressure filled, it’s not that at all – they have to have the urgency to know that we’re playing for something,” Moren said. “Every game going down the stretch matters.”
The Hoosiers find themselves in a spot that gives them a good shot at landing an NCAA Tournament appearance. However, their résumé is a bit of an interesting one. In five games against top 50 RPI teams, IU is winless. Outside the top 50, the Hoosiers have lost just three games, and they haven’t lost to a team with an RPI higher than 100, so they don’t really have a bad loss.
With an overall record of 17-8 and a 7-5 record in the Big Ten, IU currently sits at No. 44 in the RPI rankings. Moren and many of the seniors have talked about the position they stand in and wanting to leave a mark on IU by getting back to the big dance.
Junior guard Tyra Buss said the team is moving in the right direction and knows what it is playing for.
“We had that win at Rutgers, and we wanted to keep building off that momentum because we are playing for something,” Buss said. “We have to keep winning to get that NCAA Tournament bid, to get that bye in the Big Ten Tournament, so we are playing for something.”
In the Big Ten, the Hoosiers control their own destiny for a top four seed.
Finishing fourth or higher would greatly benefit IU because each of the top four teams in the conference tournament receive byes through the first two rounds. IU is currently a half game up on Northwestern for fourth place in the Big Ten, and four other teams are within a game of the Hoosiers.
The remaining schedule appears to favor the Hoosiers, who have just four regular season games remaining. IU faces Michigan and Iowa at home in the next two weeks. Both of those opponents are top-50 RPI teams currently. The two road games IU has left are against Illinois and Nebraska, who have just four Big Ten wins combined.
Moren has ensured her team knows what it has to do, and she said is not allowing anyone to let up down the stretch.
“There’s not a possession you can take off, not a minute you can take off and if you do, you’re going to get punished,” Moren said. “Michigan will capitalize on those if we take any of those off. I think we’re playing with a different sense of urgency right now because we know what’s at stake.”
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