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Does Indiana deserve a No. 1 seed after marquee win vs. Ohio State?

Indiana's Mackenzie Holmes (left) and Syndey Parrish celebrate during the Hoosiers' win against Ohio State. (Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Indiana women’s basketball just keeps getting better.

Since Teri Moren took over as coach in 2014, the Hoosiers have been on an upward trajectory. They’ve made back-to-back Sweet Sixteens. And despite losing key players to graduation, this year’s squad is Moren’s best yet.

Thursday’s 78-65 victory over No. 2 Ohio State put No. 6 Indiana atop the Big Ten with an 18-1 record and marked the program’s fourth win over a top-10 team this season. It also begged the question: Just how good is this IU squad?

Good enough for a No. 1 seed? Good enough for a Final Four?

Yes and yes.

The Hoosiers have plenty of challenges left in the Big Ten. Caitlin Clark and No. 10 Iowa – who beat them three times last season – are looming, with clashes set for Feb. 9 and the season finale on Feb. 26.

But if Indiana continues to play like it did against Ohio State, and against No. 13 Michigan days prior, it’s hard to imagine anyone else sitting atop the Big Ten when the season is over.

Indiana lost three key players from last season: Ali Patberg, Nicole Cardaño-Hillary and Aleksa Gulbe. So the immediate success of this year’s squad was somewhat surprising. But a closer look at the Hoosier personnel brings it all into focus. The makeup of this team is that of a title contender.

Whether or not Indiana can reach its potential in March remains to be seen. But right now, it’s easy to envision a path to the Final Four.

Success, for the Hoosiers, starts with Mackenzie Holmes.

The senior was a force last season, but she was hampered by injury as Indiana headed into the tournament. This year, she’s healthy and virtually unstoppable in the paint. Holmes is averaging 22.1 points per game (seventh in the country) and 8.1 rebounds per game, and she is shooting 68.2% from the field (third in the country).

She’s the centerpiece on which Indiana’s offense relies, and she opens the floor for the rest of her squad.

After Holmes, the Hoosiers start three guards who average around 12 points per game. Yarden Garzon, Sydney Parrish and Grace Berger make defending Indiana difficult because they are all scoring threats.

The trio is also versatile with the ball. Berger has perfected the mid-range jumper, but she can also go all the way to the hoop and is reliable from 3-point range (44.4%). Garzon is an exceptional long-range shooter at 49.5%, and transfer Parrish has developed from just a shooter at Oregon to a player who can attack and create off movement.

Meanwhile, fifth starter Chloe Moore-McNeil has developed into a skilled passer and floor general, leading Indiana with 5.3 assists per game.

The Hoosiers are likely to pick up a couple more losses before the season is out. The Big Ten is too good for any team to get through with just one loss. But that schedule will serve them well in March.

In 2021, the Hoosiers advanced to the Elite Eight. In 2022, it was the Sweet Sixteen.

As for 2023? It could be Indiana’s year.