Indiana Enters 'Wait And See' Period With NCAA Tournament Bid In Doubt
For a second consecutive season, Indiana women's basketball earned a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament only to get bounced in its first game.
And for a second consecutive season, that means the Hoosiers (20-10, 10-6) will be sweating in the days leading up to NCAA Tournament Selection Monday on March 13.
"It's all wait and see now," senior center Jenn Anderson said. "You never know with the postseason. There's going to be 64 teams in there. We put in the work this season, and we can just hope our hard work paid off."
As of Saturday morning, ESPN.com women's basketball bracketologist Charlie Creme didn't include Indiana in the NCAA Tournament field. He listed the Hoosiers as one of the first four teams out.
Four other Big Ten teams — No. 2 Maryland, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan and No. 9 Michigan State — are included. Purdue, the team that knocked Indiana out of the Big Ten Tournament, is listed as the fifth team not to make the NCAA Tournament field.
Other various projections, which haven't all been updated to include Friday's Indiana loss, have IU listed among either the last teams in or the first teams out. It doesn't appear anyone can come to a consensus.
And that includes IU head coach Teri Moren.
"I don't know," Moren said when asked if her team should be in. "I hope."
Indiana went 1-4 against the four teams included in Creme's latest NCAA Tournament field. That lone win, a 72-61 home victory over Michigan back on Feb. 16, is the Hoosiers' only victory over a top-50 RPI program.
So unlike last year when Moren's team sported three ranked wins, there isn't much substance to the top-end of IU's résumé. Likewise, there isn't many "bad losses," with a recent 67-64 loss to No. 197 Nebraska being the only defeat to stand out.
"I'll say this: The Big Ten is a really dang good conference, and it doesn't get the respect it deserves," Moren said. "You've heard me say that on numerous occasions. So we got beat by a really good team (Friday) in the Big Ten. And there's 14 of them."
Coincidentally, this year's Indiana team is virtually the same as last year's group that was good enough to make the NCAA Tournament. The roster is compiled of almost exclusively the same players, with only little-used Lyndsay Leikem and often-injured Jess Walter no longer with the program.
The only difference is in the results.
So did Indiana do enough? That much remains unclear.
Senior guard Amber Deane, a fifth-year senior transfer from Dayton, knows an NCAA Tournament team when she sees one. Over with the Flyers, Deane was a part of three NCAA Tournament teams and a WNIT team.
The talent, Deane said, is there. But they haven't been able to piece things together.
"I think we've faced a lot of adversity this year," Deane said. "Obviously we've got some new pieces, and I think chemistry is sometimes one of our cons. Looking around, this team has a lot of talent...It's just a matter of being able to click when we play together.
"I think when we do (click together), we're an NCAA Tournament team. Obviously we get in trouble when we don't. We've got a few loose ends going and don't look like an NCAA Tournament team."
The Hoosiers' future is now, for better or worse, out of their own hands. Considering last year's success in the NCAA Tournament, a WNIT bid would no doubt be a disappointment for a team that aspired for so much more.
So now begins the wait. All that's left to do is return to practice and prepare for the best.
"We're going to come back on Monday and just try and wait it out," Anderson said. "We have to bounce back and decide what kind of team we're going to be from here."