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Indiana women’s basketball is gonna be on ESPN, here’s what that means

In a conference matchup! No small feat!

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

You can count the amount of times that Indiana women’s basketball has been on ESPN in the past few years on one hand. That number goes down if you don’t count the NCAA Tournament.

Last year, it was the regular season beatdown of Kentucky in Assembly Hall and the Sweet Sixteen matchup against UConn. Before that, it was the 2021 Elite Eight matchup against Arizona.

As you can see, it usually takes another top program or a deep NCAA Tournament matchup for Indiana to make it onto the worldwide leader’s flagship network. Kentucky had the eventual WNBA No. 1 draft pick and UConn, aside from being UConn, had perhaps the most marketable player in the sport on its roster.

This time, on New Year’s Day, that top program is Indiana. Not to take anything away from Nebraska, a great team that’ll probably present Indiana with one of its toughest challenges yet, but Indiana is in the top-10.

As for the program, it says a ton about Indiana that ESPN greenlit a jump for this game from ESPN2. Teri Moren has done a heck of job truly building something in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have had great teams but lacked consistency, Moren and her staff have brought that.

(Brief aside, make sure to give credit where its due to associate head coaches Glenn Box and Rhet Wierzba. Indiana’s offense is incredibly fluid when it’s in rhythm, and Moren has praised Box for his role in the team’s play design. Wierzba is always out on the court pregame getting in work as the players work on layups and get shots up. Both are out recruiting and need to be mentioned when Indiana’s building process comes up.)

When Teri Moren was playing college basketball, her games were seldom if ever on television. Now she’s coaching a program that has a game on the biggest network in sports. Big deal.

That brings us to our next point, what this means for women’s basketball. As we stated in the article that’s pinned to our Twitter profile, the women’s game receives a fraction of the coverage that men’s receives.

Some say there isn’t a market for women’s basketball. For what it’s worth, our articles on the women’s basketball programs regularly get reliable traffic. They’re about to play a game on literal ESPN, enough with the market stuff.

But media plays a role in the growth of the game. It means a ton for all the girls high school programs, AAU teams and kids to get to see the women’s game broadcast on national TV. It’s why we cover the program, it’s a highly relevant, successful sport on campus that deserves more coverage than it gets.

It’s clear that women’s basketball is on the rise as parity in the NCAA Tournament increases and the college game gets more exposure.

Finally, this says a lot about Big Ten women’s basketball. Teri Moren has long said that the league doesn’t get the respect it deserves on a national level, and she’s been right. The league has multiple teams that look like threats come March in Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, Maryland and Iowa. But the league’s floor has risen with some admirable performances from Illinois and Penn State, two programs who didn’t stand a chance against Indiana last season.

The Big Ten looks deep this year, it’s gonna be interesting to see conference play unfold in the coming months. If you wanna follow Big Ten women’s basketball a bit more, subscribe to our friend Wyatt’s substack, Hoopla.