INDIANAPOLIS — Iowa had beaten every team in the Big Ten except for one.
After losing to IU during the regular season in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, No. 10-ranked Iowa had one last opportunity to beat IU on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
In what was a hard-fought, similarly down-to-the-wire game as when the two last played, Iowa pulled away to defeat its final Big Ten opponent on the list of 13, 70-61.
For the Hawkeyes, their pursuit of a Big Ten Tournament Championship continues, and their NCAA Tournament slot is all but guaranteed at 24-6 overall and 15-4 in the conference.
But the Hoosiers once again will have to rely on the decisions of the selection committee on Monday, March 18.
IU has reached 20 or more wins in its last four seasons, but has been selected to the field of 64 just once, which was in the 2015-16 season. The last two seasons, the Hoosiers have waited on, and ultimately been disappointed with, the committee’s decisions.
After Friday night’s loss, IU is 20-12 overall and 8-11 in the Big Ten, but its resume is a contender in terms of continuing its season in a week.
The Hoosiers began nonconference play 10-0 and finished with an 11-1 record. During that span, IU picked up wins over No. 25 University of California Los Angeles, and South Dakota, which is receiving the most votes of teams not in the Associated Press top-25 poll. The early season performance from IU was enough to get the team ranked No. 25 for a two-week period.
IU then began Big Ten play with a 3-0 start, including a win over then-No. 15 Michigan State. Inconsistencies and injuries plagued IU in the midst of conference play, but it managed to string together impressive performances to close the season such as their win against a top-10-ranked Iowa, a 22-point victory over Purdue and a Big Ten tourney win over Minnesota.
“It’s always interesting to look up when they flash your resume across the TV and you see Big Ten teams that are bad losses,” IU Coach Teri Moren said. “I think that is simply because of the RPI, but I don’t know if you ask any Big Ten coach if we think a loss to another Big Ten team is a bad loss. It’s just that good of a conference.”
Even after Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder finally got her win over IU this season, she said she was impressed with the toughness the Hoosiers portrayed both times out.
“They definitely deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament,” Bluder said.
But all the Hoosiers can do is flip on ESPN at 7 p.m. on March 18 and wait to hear their fate. Last year, IU didn’t make the tournament and went on to win the WNIT Championship.
After last year’s loss to Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament, Moren was asked about her team’s NCAA Tournament hopes, and she said she believed her team had an argument.
But this year, when she was asked the same question following the loss to Iowa, Moren didn’t hesitate with her answer.
“Without question,” she said.
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