Two of the nation’s best women’s basketball teams will face off Thursday, as No. 9 Maryland travels to take on the No. 6 Indiana Hoosiers.
Indiana, which has taken two of the past three meetings in this matchup, will look to continue its winning ways against a Terrapin squad that has rattled off six wins in a row.
Maryland moved up four spots in this week’s AP poll to claim a spot in the top 10. After two fairly easy conference wins over Rutgers and Michigan State over the past week, the Terps will face their biggest challenge since taking on UConn just about a month ago.
After a multi-week absence, senior guard Grace Berger has re-entered the lineup for Indiana, making Thursday’s matchup a must-see one, with Maryland’s Diamond Miller set to go head-to-head with the Hoosiers’ star.
The top-10 matchup at will tip off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on Big Ten Network.
Indiana Hoosiers (14-1, 4-1 Big Ten)
Head coach Teri Moren is going to take her squad to its eighth 20-win season in nine years at the program’s helm.
A grueling five-point loss to Michigan State is the only thing holding Indiana back from an undefeated record, but it’s still netted impressive victories over Tennessee, North Carolina and Illinois.
All but two of the Hoosiers’ wins have come by at least 10 points, as they’ve been able to cruise to victory in most of their games.
The reigning Big Ten runner-ups are coming off a 22-point victory at Northwestern, and a closely contested matchup against Maryland is likely.
Players to know
Grace Berger, senior guard, 6-foot, No. 34 — Despite only playing seven games this year due to injury, the four-year starter remains the most dangerous player on the court when she’s available. An All-American honorable mention last year, she finished in the top 15 in the Big Ten in both assists and scoring. In her return to the lineup against Northwestern last week, she finished with 16 points, five assists and two steals.
Mackenzie Holmes, senior forward, 6-foot-3, No, 54 — Holmes is having her best season as a Hoosier, averaging a near 20-point double-double per game. She leads the Hoosiers in scoring, blocks and rebounds. The 14th-leading scorer in program history (Berger is 13th) will continue to climb up that list in her fourth season in Bloomington.
Sydney Parrish, junior guard, 6-foot-2, No. 33 — The Oregon transfer has been a pleasant surprise under Moren. A rare starter with the Ducks, she has cracked the starting lineup in the past eight games for the Hoosiers after a great start. Once Berger went down in late November, Parrish stepped up in a big way. She has been a consistent double-digit scorer and has chipped in almost three steals a game in her starts.
Defensive consistency. Indiana has been a strong defensive team under Moren’s direction for years now, and she’s called her group a “defensive-minded team.” It finished as the Big Ten’s top scoring defense last season and is on track to do the same this year. Allowing under 57 points per game, Holmes leads the way down low defensively. The Terps will need to take advantage of open looks from the perimeter if they want to beat a team that has allowed over 65 points just three times this season.
It hasn’t been easy in the Big Ten so far. While still 4-1 in the conference — good enough for second place — three of Indiana’s victories have taken full 60-minute efforts. A Dec. 29 loss to Michigan State was a heartbreaker for the Hoosiers, but after close wins against Penn State and Illinois, the defeat to the Spartans was not a complete shock. Moren’s squad entered the new year by escaping a tough Nebraska team in overtime — a team that Maryland lost to. The Hoosiers have only played two games in 2023, so they’ll be well-rested ahead of their biggest conference test to date.
Three things to watch
1. Maryland is 3-1 against ranked opponents. The Terps have stepped up against strong competition this season. With victories against No. 18 Baylor, No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 4 UConn, Maryland has shined against the best. Its only loss came in its home opener to No. 1 South Carolina. All three wins have come by single digits, but winning at Assembly Hall will be a tall task.
2. This has been a thrilling matchup as of late. Maryland had previously dominated this matchup, but Indiana had the Terps’ number last season. The Hoosiers took two of three meetings last season, including a decisive 11-point victory in the Big Ten Tournament. The other two meetings were decided in close contests. The Hoosiers took the first game in overtime before the Terps squeaked out a three-point victory a few weeks later.
3. Can Lavender Briggs keep it going? After struggling to find her scoring touch for most of the season, the Florida transfer seems to have found it. After head coach Brenda Frese challenged Briggs a few weeks back, she looks more like the prolific scorer she was in Gainesville. Can she record 10 points and five boards for the fourth game in a row Thursday?