IU women earn No. 4 seed for NCAA Tournament

The question wasn’t if the Indiana women’s basketball team would play in the NCAA Tournament but when.

The 12th-ranked Hoosiers found out the answer within the first 10 minutes of the NCAA Selection Show on Monday night.

IU was awarded the No. 4 seed in the Mercado Region, named for the San Antonio area where the entire tournament will take place, and the Hoosiers play 13th-seeded VCU in the opening round Monday at 2 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

“It’s always exciting — Monday night, the selection show is unlike any other night,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “There are only 64 teams that get to see their name on the TV, and there’s nothing better.

“Last year we would have been in, no question, but in previous years we’ve been a little restless. Tonight was a little bit different. We were very eager to see where we’d be seeded and who that first opponent would be.”

For some Hoosiers, it was a familiar experience after a one-year hiatus due to the cancelation of last year’s tournament as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For others, it was something entirely new.

“Even though we had a feeling our name was going to pop up, I was still anxious and nervous to see where we’d end up,” sophomore standout Mackenzie Holmes said. “It does feel good to get that validation and know who we’re playing and when we’re playing. It gives us that mark on our calendar to look forward to now and start preparing for it.

“… For myself, I’ve never gotten to experience a selection show before and be a part of that, so to finally get that is a huge deal for me and everybody else because we know how much work we’ve put in to get to this moment.”

The Hoosiers (18-5) were a No. 3 seed in the final seedings reveal two weeks ago, but last Thursday’s loss to Michigan State cost them a line when the final pairings were announced. Still, it’s the highest seed in school history, surpassing the No. 6 seed Indiana received in 1983 when it was just a field of 36. In the modern 64-team format, Indiana’s highest previous seed was No. 8 in 2002 after winning the Big Ten Tournament. IU was a No. 9 seed in 2019, and officially this will mark the Hoosiers’ first back-to-back berths in the NCAA Tournament since 1994-95.
Their opponent this year will be the Rams (16-10), a surprise winner of the Atlantic-10 Tournament as the 5 seed, upsetting fourth-seeded Rhode Island and top-seeded Dayton along the way.

No sooner was the pairing announced than the research began.

“I think a lot of us actually already started texting people we know are familiar with them and looking up their roster, schedule and all that,” IU junior guard Grace Berger said. “Obviously, it’s exciting to hear our name called, but now it’s time to get to work and get focused on our first opponent and showing up and being ready to get a win on Monday.”

The Hoosiers have won a game in each of their previous two NCAA appearances under Moren and have three tournament wins all-time. They’d love nothing better than to surpass those marks on this trip.

“(We want to go) as deep as we can get,” Moren said. “You have to get past the first round first before you get to the next. Our focus will only be VCU as we lead up to it.

“… There will be no second round, third round, sweet 16 if you don’t take care of your very first game.”

Elsewhere in the bracket, if Indiana advances it will get the winner between fifth-seeded Gonzaga and No. 12 Belmont.

The No. 1 seed in the region is North Carolina State, the alma mater of IU assistant Ashley Williams, and a potential foe if both teams reach the Sweet 16.

On the other side of the bracket, the No. 2 seed is Texas A&M and Arizona, featuring Indiana transfer Bendu Yeaney, is the No. 3 seed. Fellow Big Ten teams Rutgers (No. 6 seed) and Michigan State (No. 10) are also in the bracket.

“We really like the seed, we like the region where we’re at, we like the teams in there as well, so we’re excited about what happened tonight for Indiana,” Moren said.

IU will practice in Bloomington again on Tuesday, then travel to San Antonio on Wednesday to begin testing, quarantining and eventually practicing.

It certainly beats the unexpected trips home that took place last year, and even if Monday’s selection wasn’t a surprise, it wasn’t a given either in this unusual season.

“I’m excited for our staff and our players, for Mackenzie Holmes last year and that freshman class that didn’t get to see their name on the TV,” Moren said. “That was sad for me but equally sad for Ali Patberg and Brenna Wise, who didn’t get to see their name as well.

“You work so hard — it’s been such a strange year with a lot of challenges and all the work these kids have done has paid off to this point.”

19 comments

  1. Good news is that we ought to play with a chip on our shoulder. The #4 seed ain’t great.
    Last NCAA “Net rankings” had IU women at #9, Coaches at #10, AP at #12, and Top 16 seeding Committee at #12. Sounds like a 3 seed to me. Let’s prove that a #4 seed was way wrong ladies.
    Maryland a 2 seed, Iowa 5 (seems high to me), Rutgers & Michigan 6, Northwestern 7, and MSU 10.
    GO IU and GO BIG10!

    1. Nat,
      It seems clear that some weight was given to conference tournaments. Iowa went from a 6 or 7 to a 5 with a tournament run, IU dropped from 3 to 4, Michigan went from 5 to 6 and Michigan State off the bubble to 10.

      1. I think you are exactly right Jeremy (as usual). NCAA admitted as much.
        But I’m not happy about the tournament carrying so much weight, because I’m not a big fan of championship tournaments.
        But I also think it’s about TV ratings. One of ESPN’s “key story-lines” involves a potential match-up between Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark. Yeah Clark is very good, but didn’t IU beat Iowa twice? Such a cynic I’ve become in my old age! 🙂
        And, as always, keep up your good work Jeremy. Tend to agree with you regarding Archie. That’s two of us at least!

  2. Nat– I was thinking the very same thing this IU team should come in with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and rightfully so. Just hope they dont use it all up on the first game. There seemed to be a bit of a delay between espn and the IU team as they didnt seem to react on tv. Robo said IU can you hear us, apparently not.

  3. Big ten as a conference seeding seem to come in right below what is considered the very best of the best. Now, that will be accurate or will 1 or 2 teams from big ten make elite 8 run or 2 teams make final 4 run besides Maryland??? As for IU it will come down to making shots at a good clip and taking care of ball because whoever they play after first game will.

  4. What a long dry spell without playing,,,,, just like Gregg Murray hinted about 11 days since they lost on thurs.

  5. Steve and t,
    Do you guys think the 11 days off is a good thing or a bad thing?
    I’m hoping that a little time off will get their legs back and let little things heal.
    They looked tired against MSU to me.

  6. Won’t know until after game/s played. IU Ladies win = it will be said how it was good or they overcame it. If IU Ladies lose = it will be said it was a bad thing. That’s the way these things are usually viewed to me. However, aren’t teams within a day or two similar circumstances? I guess some teams played an extra game or two.

  7. The more dominant and better players / team are the more they usually win, regardless. Really, most everything else is an excuse that a players / team including coaching just weren’t good enough.

  8. I dont like the long drought teamwise. It can sometimes work for or against a team, but since IU performed so badly last time out Im thinking this time it will work in their favor. I expect them to come out hard against VCU.

  9. After listening to Moren’s interview , her understanding is that they will be able to practice on the court they will play on thurs , friday, sat. and sunday. That is something they didnt get to do at bankers life. So glad they had the interviews with team and coach before leaving on wed. Good luck ladies. Go Hoosiers!!

  10. Why would be upset? they had a chance to cement a 3 seed and blew it the only chip they should have is losing the last game not being a 4 seed the whole “chip on their shoulder” thing people use is so overrated .

    1. I can of relate that to what happened during the NFL season and how Jeff Saturday put it in perspective. He was asked if teams were taking things up a notch because Smith Schuster of the Steelers was dancing on the logo and that was firing teams up. He was basically said that it wasn’t like the other team was sitting in the locker room and were saying, “hey, I think today I am only going to put in about an 80% effort. I am not really feeling it today so I am going to not put everything into it. Wait, is that Ju Ju dancing on our logo before the game? Well, that does it, I am now going to put 100% effort into this game. The heck with the 80% effort, now I’m mad.”

      He basically was making fun of some of the commentators that were saying that somehow, players weren’t going to give their max effort until they saw him dancing on the logo. That isn’t how it works.

      Same thing with the “chip on the shoulder” thing. So, the IU women’s team wasn’t going to play with maximum effort until they saw that they were a 4 seed instead of a 3 seed and at that point decided that they are going to play with maximum effort? That is essentially what you are saying.

  11. Interesting that the bracket is set up at “river walk” so Bueckers and Clark could potentially meet as if thats what the committee wanted. Apparently the two sharp-shooters are good competitive friends. Although Ky. is also sitting in that upper bracket.

  12. A BIG BIG congrats to Mackenzie Holmes for the very first AP honorable mention in program history!

  13. Clark and Bueckers are both great shooters and the powers that be can’t wait to see the match-up.
    Iowa has been playing better of late, although IU did beat ’em twice, by 13 and by 9.
    I enjoy pointing that out! 🙂

Comments are closed.