Hoosiers prepare for No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes ahead

The Tests have popped up in various games throughout the year, one after another throughout the season. Indiana passed them all calmly and methodically.

IU started the year by backing three players who weren’t in the program a year ago, which is significant given short rotation coaches Teri Moren. Moren questioned the Hoosiers’ resilience in the new look until an early win over Tennessee allayed those concerns.

After point guard Grace Berger went down in Las Vegas with a knee injury, Indiana went 7-1 without his experienced ball handler. Within the success was a litany of minor obstacles – dealing with pressure defense without salvors, maintaining composure at the end of tight games – that this particular squad was dealing with for the first time.

It all led to an 18-1 start, the best in the program’s history. The Hoosiers have beaten three ranked teams in their last four games, two of them away. Although relatively new to each other, it’s an experienced team. Five of the six players who see the floor for at least 27 minutes per game are juniors or older. Not much more IU can be detected until March, but Thursday presents another big challenge in the form of Ohio State.

The no. 2 Buckeyes are tied 8-1 with Indiana at the top of the Big Ten. They are the only team in the conference to rank higher nationally. A win for the Hoosiers would put them both in the driver’s seat for the regular-season title and further establish themselves as legitimate contenders for the national championship, not that Moren is interested in thinking the big picture at this point.

Indiana guard Grace Berger (34) is defended by Michigan guard Leigha Brown (32) during the first half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 in Ann Arbor, Michigan (AP Photo/ Carlos Osorio).

“These kids understand what they are playing for. I said so,” she said. “I’ve talked about their maturity and their experience and that’s something you have to rely on, but for us it starts at the top. We spend very little time reflecting on what we have just done and what we have been able to achieve and/or whether we are winning or falling short. We have to keep going because it’s such a quick turnaround.”