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Indiana women’s basketball vs. Stanford: Three things to watch

The Big One.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 09 Women’s - Eastern Illinois at Indiana Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Indiana women’s basketball is set to travel to Palo Alto on Sunday for a matchup against Stanford, coach by Hoosier alum Tara Vanderveer.

It’s another high profile matchup for Indiana after the Hoosiers took on and felled Tennessee in Knoxville last year. Stanford is among the sport’s blue bloods with a recent national championship to its name.

The two share a rather unfortunate distinction of losing in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, which each having aspirations of a deeper run in 2024.

All that being said, here’s three things to watch during the game.

The Other Four on the Floor

Indiana head coach Teri Moren was the first to say it following Thursday’s season-opening win over Eastern Illinois. The matchup between Mackenzie Holmes and Cameron Brink, two of the best players in the country, will be widely discussed.

But she was careful to note that the rest of the players on the floor will make a bigger difference.

Indiana returns all but one of its starters from last season. Losing Grace Berger is huge, but the starting lineup gained yet another threat from the arc in Sara Scalia. Combine that with Yarden Garzon showing off her versatility on Thursday and you have something interesting on your hands.

Stanford ran out against Hawaii with a lineup featuring four members with starting experience from last season. Haley Jones, selected one spot before Grace Berger in the 2023 WNBA Draft, is likewise a loss.

But it’s Stanford. They have talent waiting to take those minutes not unlike Indiana.

Sydney Parrish already has experience playing against the Cardinal thanks to her time with Oregon. Other Hoosiers, such as Mackenzie Holmes and Chloe Moore-McNeil, faced off with Stanford in a nonconference game back in 2021.

Brink was dominant back then, scoring 21 points to Holmes’ 6. Both have grown as players since the first matchup.

Chloe Moore-McNeil will be valuable as Indiana’s on-ball defender and had plenty of experience against top teams in the Big Ten last year. Garzon will prove a difficult defensive assignment thanks to her 3-point shooting ability and the on-ball ability she showed against Eastern Illinois.

How much run does the bench get?

Indiana’s bench, consisting mostly of freshmen and sophomores, got a significant amount of run against Eastern Illinois with a massive lead set in stone.

The posts, Lilly Meister and Sharnecce Currie-Jelks, will be especially interesting. Stanford has some tough talent down low off the bench that Indiana will have to answer with Holmes off the floor.

Lexus Bargesser showed great speed with the ball in transition, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinal counters with the talent available. Henna Sandvik could prove key on the defensive end, where she’s made progress throughout the offseason.

It could be a short rotation with multiple members of the second unit having limited experience... or maybe they’ve shown enough in practice to earn those minutes so Indiana’s starters can rest and close out what is certain to be a contested game.

The Resume

Stanford is a big name and will once again be one of the best teams in the country this year.

A loss, especially on the road across the entire country, wouldn’t take a wrecking ball to Indiana’s NCAA Tournament credentials. Especially not with it being the second game either team plays this season.

A win, however, could be massive if Stanford impresses in the final year of the Pac-12 as they did last year.

One way or another, it’s probably not worth putting too much stock in the game. The team has a ceiling to reach and probably isn’t close to it with the freshmen needing minutes against weaker nonconference foes to gain a rhythm and confidence.