No. 1 seed Indiana women’s basketball looks to extend its historic season on Monday night as it takes on No. 9 seed University of Miami. The Hoosiers look to build on their 77-47 Round of 64 win over Tennessee Tech University in hopes of advancing to the program’s third straight Sweet Sixteen.
Miami enters the contest after a thrilling comeback win over No. 8 seed Oklahoma State University. The Hurricanes trailed by 17 at halftime before charging back in the second half for an eventual 1-point victory. The 17-point comeback is tied for the fifth largest in NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament history, according to ESPN.
Miami’s first-round win marked its 20th of the season, accompanied by 12 losses. The Hurricanes finished sixth in the Atlantic Coastal Conference. They beat Boston College in the second round of the ACC Conference Tournament before losing to current No. 1 seed and eventual conference tournament champion Virginia Tech.
Miami’s goal is to prevent meeting the exact fate it encountered last season. The 2021-22 Hurricanes finished the season 21-13, earning a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, winning their first-round matchup and then losing to No. 1 seed and eventual national champion University of South Carolina. Miami also lost to then-No. 4 Indiana last season, 53-51, in November.
The Hoosiers and Hurricanes share two common opponents from the regular season. Both teams faced Michigan — who Miami lost to 76-64 on Dec. 1 and Indiana beat twice in Big Ten play — and the University of North Carolina. Both teams defeated North Carolina, Indiana by 24 and Miami by 4.
Miami’s team identity follows the same blueprint as Teri Moren’s Indiana squad does: all things start on defense. The Hurricanes hold their opponents to 64 points per game on 41.5% shooting from the field and 32% shooting on threes. They force 17 turnovers per game, nine of those being steals for the Hurricanes which plays into their transition offense.
A primary example of Miami using defense to win games is its comeback victory over Oklahoma State. The Hurricanes upped their full-court press to wreak havoc on the Cowboys and force turnovers, 13 in total. Given Indiana’s recent struggles against the press, like its 24-point collapse against Ohio State, taking care of the ball will be a necessity for the Hoosiers.
“We’re a team that likes to push the pace and we won’t change our identity,” Moren said. “You have to have great shot selection, and you can’t have live ball turnovers against a team like Miami.”
Miami will have its hands full facing the best offense it’s seen all year in Indiana. The Hoosiers average 81 points per game, — sixth in the nation, and shoot 50% from the field, second in the nation. They also shoot 37% from deep — which places them 12th in the nation. Additionally, Indiana’s assist/turnover ratio of 1.4 ranks sixth in the country.
Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes’ availability will be crucial for Indiana. Holmes started in Indiana’s first 30 games but didn’t play Saturday due to knee soreness as a precaution. Moren didn’t give a definite answer but said that the star senior should be getting good minutes.
“I think by all accounts right now, she’s more than ready to be in the lineup and see playing time,” Moren said. “Whether that will be limited, probably, but we’re prepared for that.”
Graduate guard Grace Berger will be playing in Assembly Hall for the final time of her career. The honorable mention All-American is Indiana’s all-time winningest player.
Indiana and Miami will tipoff at 8 p.m. Monday night in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The game will be available to watch on ESPN2.
Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Sebree (@mattsebree), columnist Matt Press (@MattPress23) and photographer (.@alexpaulphoto) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s basketball season.