Women's basketball: Badgers set for Indiana

Wisconsin looks to extend its season Thursday afternoon in the Big Ten Tournament

The calendar recently flipped to March, bringing forth the excitement of tournament basketball. For the University of Wisconsin women's basketball team, the postseason begins and ends this weekend with the Big Ten Tournament at the Conseco Field House in Indianapolis.

The Badgers open play at 2 p.m. Thursday with a first-round match-up with Indiana. UW will have the opportunity to avenge a Feb. 3 defeat to the Hoosiers as well as losses to IU in the past two conference tournaments.

The Badgers (11-15 overall, 5-11 Big Ten) enter the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 8 seed and will face the Hoosiers for the third straight opening-round match-up in the 8/9 game. The last two seasons Indiana has come out victorious with a close 52-51 victory in 2003 and a 57-39 drubbing last season.

Since the teams' last meeting exactly one month ago, Indiana's future has tailspinned into uncertainty. Kathi Bennett, daughter of former Wisconsin men's basketball coach Dick Bennett, announced her resignation as IU's head coach Tuesday. The resignation, effective at the end of the season, means that Bennett will be coaching in perhaps her last game as the Hoosiers' coach. Indiana (10-17, 3-13) has won once – a 54-53 win at Northwestern Feb. 13 – since defeating Wisconsin Feb. 3.

"Now we've only seen them once this season. Last year saw them three times but they're no different," UW coach Lisa Stone said. "There's not a magical change they're going to make. They're not going to switch out on screens. They're going to play fundamental, help-side defense. We need to be patient and find ways to score."

Wisconsin has had plenty of problems scoring against IU and the loss in Bloomington earlier this season is fresh in the Badgers' minds. Wisconsin dug itself an 18-point halftime deficit Feb. 3 before losing 71-66. In two of the teams' three meetings last season the Badgers managed only 39 points: one at Bloomington and one in the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.

"It's not so much the element of revenge, but maybe more motivation," senior guard Stephanie Rich said. "We thought we should have won that game in Bloomington this year, but that won't matter to us or them Thursday."

Rich and the Badgers' other senior, forward Ebba Gebisa, will likely put on the cardinal and white for UW for the last time this weekend. At 11-15, the only chance the Badgers have at postseason play is if they win the Big Ten Tournament and receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament – a rather unlikely scenario.

"We know that we need to make a run here if we are going to play postseason," said Jolene Anderson, who was named Big Ten Freshman Player of the Year Tuesday. "We got to take it one game at a time, but we know that we need to win more than once to continue playing."

If the Badgers are able to knock off Indiana, they would play top-seeded and nationally third-ranked Ohio State Friday at 11 a.m. The Buckeyes, led by Big Ten Player of the Year Jessica Davenport, handled the Badgers with ease in their only meeting this season, an 86-67 Buckeye victory at the Kohl Center Jan. 27.

What: Wisconsin (5-11 Big Ten, 11-15 overall) v. Indiana (3-11, 10-17) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
When: Thursday, March 3 at 2 p.m. Central.
Where: Conseco Field House in Indianapolis.
Broadcasts: Fox Sports Net North will televise the game live; WIBA AM 1310 and UWBadgers.com will provide a live audio broadcast.
Series notes: Indiana leads the all-time series 37-13 and has eliminated Wisconsin in the first round of the last two Big Ten Tournaments. The Hoosiers topped UW 52-51 in the 2003 tournament and 57-39 last year. The teams met once this year, with Indiana winning 71-66 in Bloomington.

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