The women's basketball team blared Yugoslavian music while it stretched at practice Tuesday, honoring senior center Jelena Lazic's homeland. Today, the Hoosiers will pay tribute to senior forward Erin McGinnis, a Tennessee native, perhaps with cowboy hats and "y'alls," associate head coach Trish Betthauser said.\nThe final week of the Hoosiers' regular season is winding down, creating urgency to commemorate the five seniors and prolong their careers -- as well as make more likely the comeback of coach Kathi Bennett -- through an extended post-season.\nBennett, who continues to wear a heavy halo device to stabilize a fractured neck, attended Tuesday's practice, pacing the sidelines and commanding her team. No return date has been set, but players and Betthauser indicated she could be back by season's end.\n"Coach B is still the head coach right now, but Coach Bennett is still there, telling us what to do," center Jill Chapman said. "I know if she was in charge, she'd kind of get frustrated with us right now. She's kind of taking the backseat. You don't know. She might be out there coaching us on senior night.\n"I don't know. It'd be great if she is."\nSenior night is Sunday against last-place Northwestern. Thursday, the Hoosiers travel to Illinois with Betthauser expected to lead the team.\n"We don't want to set any days just because we don't want to put any deadlines on her," Betthauser said about Bennett's return. "When she's ready, she's ready."\nThis week's wins and losses around the Big Ten will determine seedings for the conference tournament Feb. 28-March 4 at Conseco Fieldhouse. IU's best-case scenario is earning the sixth seed, and only the league's top five teams earn a first-round bye.\nIf the tournament was played today, the Hoosiers (12-13, 6-8 Big Ten) would have the eighth seed and play ninth-seeded Michigan (15-10, 5-9), whom IU fell to 68-55 Jan. 20.\nBut the Hoosiers could pass both the Buckeyes (12-14, 7-8) and Fighting Illini (14-10, 7-7) to nab the sixth seed if those teams lose. The Buckeyes only play host to Wisconsin. The Hoosiers could also pass Illinois, pending at least one loss, either to IU or in a road match against Iowa. \n"I think there is a slight chance that if Minnesota wins the conference outright we could have a chance to slide in (for a bye)," Betthauser said. "Iowa and Wisconsin would have to finish 8-8. I think the best we can do is finish sixth." \nA sixth seed would set up a Thursday nighter against the 11th-seed, probably Northwestern (4-21, 0-14). The winner plays the No. 3 seed, a better circumstance for IU than the No. 8/9 victor playing the top seed or the No. 7/10 winner playing the No. 2 seed.\nDisaster could lend a hand, too.\nThe Hoosiers could tie the Badgers (17-8, 8-6), who fell out of the Associated Press top 25 this week, and Iowa (15-9, 8-6) if those foes drop all of their remaining contests.\nNo. 8 Purdue (21-4, 12-3) will win the Big Ten as long as it doesn't lose its final game at home against second-place Penn State (18-9, 10-4).\n"I feel like we're in a good spot going to Illinois and finishing up at home here on senior day," Betthauser said. "I really feel good about where we're at that we can finish strong and take care of what we need to take care of. I just hope the other teams do what we need them to do."\nIn her absence, Bennett continues to provide support. She advised Chapman to stay on the high side for the 73-63 upset over No. 14 Minnesota, assistant coach Matt Bollant said. Chapman listened and exploded for 19 points and 11 rebounds.\n"She was in tears after the game," Bollant said of Bennett. "She wants what's best for this program."\nThe performance left Chapman, a senior, hungering for an extended college career.\n"I don't want it to end with these last two games," Chapman said. "They are going to be the last for my regular season here, but we want them to give us momentum for the Big Ten tournament. If we play good and get confident, we'll play a lot more games"
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