Indiana women’s basketball finally has its repeat roadmap as the Big Ten released its full conference schedule last Thursday. Here’s the reigning league champs’ full slate:
Hot off the press.— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) September 21, 2023
The 2023-24 schedule has arrived. pic.twitter.com/cKtjTDkqgG
The Hoosiers don’t play for keeps for another seven weeks, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait to break it down. Here are all the dates fans need to know served up yearbook style.
Best addition to the schedule
I am very excited about the upcoming Stanford home-and-home, a two game series that kicks off in Palo Alto on November 12th.
Stanford is a women’s hoops blue blood. The Cardinal have made 35 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and won it all three times, most recently in 2021. They’re led by legendary head coach and Hoosier alum Tara VanDerveer, whose 1,186 victories make her the NCAA’s all-time leader in wins.
This series matters because it proves that Indiana has cemented itself as a true WBB power. Stanford regularly preps for conference play with the likes of South Carolina, Tennessee, and UConn... adding Indiana to that conversation puts immense respect on the name of head coach Teri Moren and her program.
It says something about Big Ten women’s basketball as a whole, too. The Cardinal’s 2024 trip to Assembly Hall will be their first true road game against a B1G team since 2000. The league has never been better than it is today.
Speaking of, one underrated aspect of this trip is that it gives Indiana an opportunity to travel west a year before UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington join the conference. Proper handling of jetlag and all the other nonsense that comes with cross country travel will be a serious competitive advantage in the new Big Ten. Going to California a year early sounds like an ideal trial run.
Indiana’s toughest stretch will come from January 31st thru February 11th. During that run the Hoosiers will play at Maryland (1/31) and Ohio State (2/4) before returning home to spar with Michigan State (2/8) and Purdue (2/11).
Maryland and Ohio State can both win the Big Ten and have their sights set well beyond the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State handed Indiana one of their four losses a season ago and nearly bounced the Hoosiers from the conference tournament in the quarterfinals. Purdue carries weight as a rival and is firmly in that “second tier, high upside” grouping of Big Ten teams... they can hang. Going 3-1 over this stretch would be awesome for IU.
There are multiple promising options here with Stanford and the Fort Myers tip-off but it’s gotta be Mackenzie Holmes’ homecoming in Portland.
Indiana will play a neutral site game against the University of Maine at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine, on November 30th. Holmes grew up in nearby Gorham and won her first of two state championships in that same barn in 2016. The four-time first team All-SMAA honoree was also named Maine Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019.
This trip sounds like an awesome experience for a player that has certainly earned it. It’s so cool that Teri Moren lets the geography of her roster influence scheduling.
Biggest trap game
Given the Big Ten’s depth, we have many games to choose from here.
The league opener at Rutgers (12/9) cannot be overlooked. Neither can Penn State’s visit to Bloomington on January 10th as the Nittany Lions could be the most improved team in the conference this year. It feels good to have Ashley Owusu back in the Big Ten.
I’m ultimately going with the New Year’s Eve home game against Illinois. Winter break is such a sleepy time on college campuses. The change in routine is disorienting and provides potential for weirdness.
You’ve also got to consider that Illinois is actually good. ESPN currently projects the Illini as a March Madness #7 seed and senior guard Makira Cook casually dropped 33 last time she played in Assembly Hall. This is only a “trap game” because I’d bet less than half the building knows what day of the week it is when it happens.
Bonus sneaky good noncon game: Bowling Green. Although Indiana throttled the Falcons 96-61 a season ago, BGSU had a respectable 2022-23. They won 31 games, made a WNIT semifinals run, and their offense finished top-25 in scoring. Indiana welcomes Bowling Green to SSAH on December 22nd.
Best date to go “RedZone Mode”
March 3rd is the best day to do nothing but watch ball for two (2) key reasons.
First off, it’s the final day of the Big Ten regular season and will feature multiple outstanding matchups:
- Nebraska at Illinois
- Ohio State at Iowa
- Maryland at Indiana
- Purdue at Michigan
The league title could be decided that afternoon. Imagine quadboxing all that?
The second, more important, reason to keep your March 3rd clear is that it’s the projected date of a very important milestone: Mackenzie Holmes becoming Indiana’s all-time leading scorer. Given the games Holmes lost to COVID cancellations and injury this may seem a little far-fetched, but I can assure you that she has a shot. Here’s the program’s current leaderboard and the math that brought me to this conclusion:
- Tyra Buss - 2,364 points
- Amanda Cahill - 1,884 points
- Mackenzie Holmes - 1,768 points
Indiana’s 2023-24 regular season is 27 games. If Holmes plays every game and continues to average her 2022-23 figure of 22.3 points per contest, she will need 26.8 games reach 2,365 career points and pass Tyra Buss for the program record. She’d catch Cahill in game six (vs Princeton) in this scenario.
That all check out? Will gladly take corrections if my math was incorrect but, as someone who passed Finite, I’m pretty sure it’s right. Just don’t ask me about matrices.
Back to Mack though, those parameters are stringent but Holmes taking the crown in the regular season is definitely possible. CQ will be monitoring her progress throughout the year, providing updates as needed.
With the elite star power, coaching, and young talent both teams possess yearly, Indiana-Iowa women’s hoops has become one of the Big Ten’s best single sport rivalries. They played two of the most entertaining basketball games I’ve ever seen last season:
CAITLIN CLARK BUZZER-BEATER— ESPN (@espn) February 26, 2023
No. 6 Iowa takes down No. 2 Indiana! pic.twitter.com/pRfXlgSCl4
and will run it back (at least) twice this year. Indiana will visit the 2023 National Runners-Up on January 13 before hosting the Hawkeyes on February 22nd.
Caitlin Clark versus Mackenzie Holmes. Lisa Bluder versus Teri Moren. Hannah Stuelke versus Yarden Garzon. Need I say more?
This matchup just delivers. That won’t change anytime soon.