Indiana Women's Basketball: Can the Hoosiers Win the 2023-2024 NCAA Championship?

Chloe Moore-McNeil, Sara Scalia, Yarden Garzon, Sydney Parrish, and Mackenzie Holmes | Indiana University Women's Basketball
Chloe Moore-McNeil, Sara Scalia, Yarden Garzon, Sydney Parrish, and Mackenzie Holmes | Indiana University Women's Basketball / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Leading up to the start of the 2023-2024 season, the Indiana University women's basketball team was tied for the 4th best odds (+1000) to hoist the NCAA championship trophy into the sky at the end of the current campaign. At the start of the 2024 New Year, those odds have slipped to +3000 as the squad has since fallen into a 4-way tie for the 11th best odds to claim the crown. All odds aside, are the 14th ranked Hoosiers (who currently share the best record in Big Ten conference play with Caitlin Clark and Iowa at 4-0) a legitimate NCAA title contender?

The Hoosiers have one of the most potent offenses in the country, which is led by super senior Mackenzie Holmes (and her nightly averages of 19.6 points and 6.9 rebounds on 66.9% shooting from the field) in the post. She leads an offensive attack that currently leads all NCAA Division 1 schools in field goal percentage (52.1%) while putting up 81.3 points on the scoreboard per contest (20th in the nation). The Hoosiers are also currently slotted at 16th in turnovers per game at just 12.5 a night, which is a testament to this program's elite coaching staff.

While Holmes is undoubtedly the focal point of Teri Moren's 4 out-1 in offense, she has a ton of help on the offensive end. The quartet of guards that joins her in the starting lineup have been a handful for defenses to hinder. Sara Scalia, Yarden Garzon, Sydney Parrish, and Chloe Moore-McNeil each have the ability to impact the game in multiple ways, but their shared shooting capabilities often put opposing defenses in a pick your poison situation when trying to contain Holmes in the paint. The Hoosiers are currently 5th in the country in 3-point percentage at 39.5%, thanks in large part to the flame-throwing ways of Scalia (nation's 15th highest 3-point percentage at 45.8%) and Garzon (nation's 30th highest 3-point percentage at 43.8%). With so much scoring firepower, there is no telling who may be the one to lead the team in scoring on any given night.

Indiana Hoosiers guard Sara Scalia (14) shoots against...
Sara Scalia, Indiana University Women's Basketball / SOPA Images/GettyImages

If offense were the sole determinant of whether a team were a true title contender, Indiana would definitely be on the shortlist of teams to keep an eye on. However, there other areas of the game of basketball which factor into a team's legitimacy. In the case of the Hoosiers, there are a few major ones of concern for this team. The first of those is defense, and we have all heard the old saying "offense sells tickets, defense wins championships". While they do not boast a necessarily bad defense, the Hoosiers have certainly been mediocre in terms of getting stops as they currently rank tied for 74th in the NCAA in opponents points-per-game at 58.6. If they are going to pull off a serious run, the entire roster will need to buy in on the less glamorous end.

While the 4 guard-1 big lineup might work wonders for them on offense, it has also hurt them mightily on the boards (which goes hand-in-hand with defense). Indiana currently ranks 191st in rebounds-per-game (36.7), which is an area of the game that can always come back to bite you. If you cannot keep up with your opponents in the rebounding department, you are going to have a tough time beating them.

Sydney Parrish (33) of Indiana Hoosiers seen in action...
Sydney Parrish, Indiana University Women's Basketball / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Last but not least comes another crucial area of the game that can really come back to bite you with that especially being the case in March: free throw shooting. Knocking down just 69.3% of your freebies as a collective group is not going to get the job done. When the bright lights of the Big Dance come on, the pressure spikes. Before we reach that point, the team will need to make a conceited effort to make drastic improvements from the line.

Following the team's lopsided 91-69 W at Nebraska a few nights ago, the team is now riding a 12-game winning streak since it's early season blowout loss at Stanford. While it is always essential to move on from those low moments and flush the feelings that come with them, it is also impossible to forget how overmatched the cream and crimson looked against what was most likely their toughest challenge of the season to date. They did secure an impressive victory over Tennessee back in late November, which boded well for re-establishing themselves as a team that can beat other high level teams.

Caitlin Clark
Caitlin Clark, Iowa University Women's Basketball and Chloe McNeil-Moore, Indiana University Women's Basketball / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

The Hoosiers have one more tune-up game tomorrow night (at home against Penn State) before their first of two meetings with National Player of the Year favorite Caitlin Clark (or "Her" for short) and the 3rd ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. This team definitely has the pieces to put together a run at a championship this season, and if there were ever an opportunity to support that sentiment it would have to be via that contest in Iowa City.

Let's show them what Indiana basketball is all about, ladies. Go Hoosiers!