We are back where we started.
At this time last year, a disappointing exclusion from the NCAA Tournament ultimately led to one of the more memorable runs in the history of the Indiana women’s basketball program.
Last year, exclusion from the “big dance” gave the Hoosiers motivation, and they used it to capture a WNIT title and give a proper send off to seniors Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill.
While being left out was disappointing in 2018, it wasn’t a complete surprise either. Most prognostications had the Hoosiers on the outside looking in on selection day.
The expectations started anew before the 2018-19 season, and head coach Teri Moren left no doubt what the goal was:
“I will say this, I’ve made it crystal clear, as much as I loved the WNIT experience for our program and the community of Bloomington, that’s ultimately not our goal. Our goal is to be in the NCAA Tournament and to win a Big Ten championship,” Moren said on BTN before the season.
While the Hoosiers will once again have to nervously await their fate, this time it appears that they have likely done enough.
Indiana (20-12) lost 70-61 to No. 2 seed Iowa on Friday night at the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, but late wins over Minnesota and Purdue should be enough for IU to receive a NCAA at large bid this time.
Moren was asked after the loss to Iowa if her team has done enough to make the NCAA tournament this year —
“Oh, yeah, without question,” Moren said on Friday night. “It’s just not in the Big Ten play. Our non-conference schedule was extremely difficult, and I think that’s one of the things that the committee wants you to do. They want you to go out and play people and they want you to beat people, and we’ve proven that we can beat people, whether it’s at home or whether it’s on the road, like the road win at UCLA.
But then the Big Ten, just the parity, night in and night out. It’s always interesting to look up when they’d flash your resume across the TV, and you see Big Ten teams that are bad losses, and I think that 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.”
ESPN’s latest bracketology was updated today during the loss to Iowa, so it does not reflect those results. It has Indiana as part of the “last four in” as a No. 11 seed playing in Charlotte against Florida State.
The loss to Iowa, who is a No. 2 seed in that ESPN bracketology, should not adversely impact IU.
But it’s close, and the Hoosiers will have to sweat it out again.
And they will have to wait.
The selection show is on Monday, March 18.
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