Let’s face it, it’s been a tough season thus far for the Indiana women’s basketball team. At 9-12 overall and 2-6 in the Big Ten, any postseason aspirations for the Hoosiers seem like a long shot at this point. Coming into the year the expectations were not necessarily sky high, but most experts had the Hoosiers doing better than what they’ve shown us thus far.
It hasn’t been all bad either. There have been some major highs, like senior guard Tyra Buss becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer. They were dominant in a home win over arch-rival Purdue. This week emerging star Jaelynn Penn was named the Big Ten Freshman of the week, providing much needed support to senior team leaders Buss and Amanda Cahill.
To be fair, their Big Ten schedule has been dramatically front loaded. Every conference opponent the Hoosiers have had to play thus far is at .500 or better in league play, including 4 of the 8 games against ranked opponents in Michigan, Maryland and Ohio State twice. IU has also played 5 of their first 8 conference games on the road, including three against those ranked opponents.
But Indiana can change the direction of their season starting on Wednesday night. The Hoosiers are coming off a big road win over Michigan State, avenging an earlier home loss to the Spartans in the process. The schedule lets up a bit now, and the next four games will be played in the friendly confines of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The combined record of these four opponents is 8-23 in Big Ten play. Indiana will be expected to win at least three of them, with Rutgers perhaps being the lone exception. If the Hoosiers can find a way to pull out all four, they’d find themselves sitting at 13-12 overall and 6-6 in the Big Ten. Admittedly, that’s still probably not where they’d like to be, but it sounds a lot better than where they are now, and is much more in line with preseason expectations.
The conference schedule will again take a difficult turn to close out the regular season, with 3 of the last 4 on the road against some of the better teams in the league (Purdue, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa). But if the Hoosiers can go into that stretch run on a 5 game winning streak, with the potential for the postseason clearly in front of them, then perhaps they will change the story of this 2017-18 season.
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Main photo credit – Rachel Meert / IU Athletics