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Spaletto: What we learned about Indiana women's basketball in the 2022 Big Ten Tournament

It’s safe to say that the 2022 Big Ten Tournament went far more in Indiana’s favor than last year’s Big Ten Tournament. Last year, Indiana was upset in the first round by the Michigan State Spartans, which was disappointing knowing that IU was a team many people thought could have won the conference tournament that year.

However, coming in as the five seed in this year’s tournament, the Hoosiers showed flashes that this could be a year that they could exceed the high expectations that were set in front of them at the beginning of the season. Picking up two quality wins against Maryland and Ohio State, we could definitely see Indiana get a better seed than previously projected headed into the Big Ten tournament.

Although the end of the tournament did not go as the team wanted it to, we still learned a lot about this team this past weekend in Indianapolis.

Chloe Moore-McNeil will play a vital role in the NCAA Tournament

Getting some production from the bench has been a struggle for this Indiana team these past couple of years. They have sometimes gone games without getting a single point from their bench, solely relying on the starting five to get the Hoosier offense going.

But especially in the game against Ohio State in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, Moore-McNeil showed that she can be an essential part of this team. Scoring 11 points while grabbing three rebounds and dishing out two assists, this is the type of production Indiana needs from Moore-McNeil if the team wants to do big things in the NCAA Tournament.

Looking at IU’s most recent game on Sunday against Iowa, this was an example of a game where Indiana had zero bench points and because of that could not pull out a win. Players such as Moore-McNeil, who have proven to be key for the Hoosiers in moments throughout the season, could be the difference in what type of run Indiana makes in the tournament.

The inconsistent outside shooting could be Indiana’s kryptonite

In many of the toughest and most heartbreaking losses for the Hoosiers over the past two years, the inability to make shots late has hurt Indiana the most. Although the team was able to do that in the first three games of the tournament, it seems like the fatigue really started to settle in late in the Big Ten Championship. 

This also happened in the Elite Eight last year against Arizona, just a couple days after the Hoosiers picked up a program-defining win against the NC State Wolfpack. Indiana was able to hang in there with a Wildcat team who would end up going to the national championship, but the difference was once again down the stretch they could not get a shot to fall.

The Hoosiers have shown the capability of doing that this season, even as recently as the Big Ten Tournament. Playing a team like Maryland then turning around the very next day and having a great offensive game against the No. 1-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes in the semifinals is no easy task. So the extra day of preparation in between NCAA Tournament games could be a huge difference for this team to rest up and be ready to take on its next opponent. 

The Hoosiers look tournament-ready

Yes, the team lost a game to Iowa where it definitely could have won and things went downhill at the end. But this should not take away from the fact that IU beat two really good teams in Maryland and Ohio State in back-to-back days. 

This is the first time that the Hoosiers beat the Terrapins twice in one season. Maryland has been the team to beat in the Big Ten for a number of years, and the Terps are again poised to make another deep run into the tournament. To end the game the way they did and beat Maryland by double digits is something that I find very impressive.

The very next day, after an emotional win, the Hoosiers beat the Ohio State Buckeyes (for the season sweep) who had been on an absolute tear to end the season.  Being a team that has struggled to shoot from beyond the arc at times, shooting 50 percent from 3-point range after a gritty game against Maryland is another encouraging performance Indiana put on during this tournament run. With all the impressive performances they have had throughout the tournament, it’s safe to say the Hoosiers are looking ready for what will be a crucial NCAA Tournament for this team.

You can catch the NCAA women’s basketball selection show at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 13 on ESPN.

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