NC State is in the Sweet Sixteen for the third consecutive time (likely fourth consecutive if the NCAAs get played last year), and this is where the Wolfpack Women need to take the next step. Wes Moore’s program hasn’t been able to get past this point in the tournament, but it’s also true he hasn’t had a team this good at this point, either.
Indiana is the lowest-remaining seed left in the Mercado Region, but by Her Hoops Stats’ team ratings, also the second-best team left, behind NC State. The Hoosiers are a tough defensive team that relies on winning games in the paint at both ends.
Let’s have a look.
|Offense||49.2 (56)||13.6 (8)||28.8 (253)||16.5 (184)||50.9 (24)||29.2 (246)||72.2 (110)|
|Defense||41.0 (30)||18.8 (168)||24.8 (13)||13.3 (27)||39.7 (34)||29.9 (96)||72.8 (273)|
NC State may be shorthanded again, but the good news is that Indiana doesn’t have a lot of depth either, and isn’t going to try to wear down the Pack with waves of personnel. The Hoosiers don’t have a reserve averaging more than nine minutes per game, and those bench players are low-usage steal-minutes types, rather than drive-the-offense types.
These five Indiana players will see the bulk of the court time:
Grace Berger (6’0) — 15.5 PPG / 6.7 RPG / 4.6 APG
Nicole Cardano-Hillary (5’6) — 8.5 PPG / 2.0 APG
Ali Patberg (5’11) — 14.0 PPG / 3.6 APG
Aleksa Gulbe (6’3) — 9.1 PPG / 6.7 RPG
Mackenzie Holmes (6’3) — 17.8 PPG / 7.8 RPG
Indiana has a top-20 offense built on paint efficiency and ball security. The Hoosiers are not at all three-inclined—they rank 316th in three-point attempt rate—and their leading scorer is 0-6 from outside this season. They have enough shooting to keep defenses honest, but their preference is to feed Holmes, who is at nearly 62% on twos.
Patberg is the team’s most versatile scorer, providing good balance between twos and threes, while Berger uses her size to contribute effectively inside the arc, get to the line, and grab rebounds. Kai Crutchfield will be tasked with checking one of those two and will be giving up a little size in both cases.
Offensive rebounds will be at a premium in this game, as neither teams are exceptional on the offensive glass, and both are outstanding on the defensive boards.
NC State will have the best player on the court—that’s Elissa Cunane, of course—and the Wolfpack wasn’t stifled by USF’s excellent defense in the second round. State hit nearly half its twos despite an off day from Cunane, and cracked 1.1 PPP in the process.
This game will be a bigger challenge, but I still think the individual matchups skew in NC State’s favor.