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Looking Back — And Looking Ahead — to Indiana's New Rivalry With N.C. State

Last season, Indiana knocked out No. 1-seed N.C. State in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Wolfpack head to Bloomington for what coach Teri Moren thinks will be a thrilling game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Thursday night.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — They're back, and they want redemption. And they're as angry as, well, a pack of wolves.

No. 2-ranked N.C. State is in Bloomington for a Thursday night matchup with No. 6 Indiana, the team that knocked the No. 1-seeded Wolfpack out of the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet Sixteen a year ago. N.C. State had visions of winning a national title in 2021, but it was Indiana that crushed those dreams.

The stakes aren't nearly as high on Thursday night, but it's a big early-December game anyway. It's two of the best teams in the country battling it out at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.

"This is a different team," Indiana coach Teri Moren said of N.C. State. "They're better than they were a year ago. They're more explosive offensively than they were a year ago."

That's saying a lot, because last year's team was pretty good, too. Let's first rehash who N.C. State was last season. 

The Wolfpack were the top seed in the Mercado Region of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but the loss sent them packing and moved the Hoosiers to their first Elite Eight in school history.

On March 27 in San Antonio, Texas, N.C. State was up by seven in the first quarter. The Hoosiers caught up, but then fell behind once more as the Wolfpack went on a 15-2 run. An Ali Patberg three-pointer at the halftime buzzer brought the Hoosiers back up to speed.

The second half belonged to Indiana, as it went on a 9-0 run and eventually took its lead to 10 points. N.C. State fought back, but Indiana snapped the Wolfpack's 11-game winning streak, beating them 73-70.

All five Hoosier starters scored in double figures. Aleksa Gulbe and Grace Berger had double-doubles, the first pair to record double-doubles in an NCAA tournament game since 2016.

Indiana forced 17 turnovers and outrebounded the Wolfpack, 35-31. The Hoosiers tallied 18 points from fast break opportunities. The Hoosiers shot 47.7% from the field compared to the Wolfpacks's 50%.

After the upset win, the Hoosiers faced then-ranked-No. 3 Arizona in the Elite Eight, but the Wildcats defeated the Hoosiers 66-53 to advance to the Final Four. Arizona won its national semifinal, but lost to Stanford in the NCAA title game.

Back in present time, No. 2-ranked N.C. State (6-1) returns all five starters and adds even more depth to its roster with Rutgers transfer Diamond Johnson.

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N.C. State is led by preseason ACC Player of the Year Elissa Cunane, a 6-foot-5 senior averaging 14.4 points per game. Moren says Cunane will be a problem for the Hoosiers. 

Although the Wolfpack have some height advantages on Indiana, Moren isn't too worried about that and emphasized her squad has ways to work around it.

The 5-1 Hoosiers got the luxury of watching N.C. State while in the Bahamas at the Pink Flamingo Classic. The Wolfpack easily won both of their games on the trip against Maryland and Washington State. Indiana's lone loss came on the trip, losing to Stanford on Nov. 25.

N.C. State is averaging 80.3 points per game and shooting 48.6% from the floor, a close comparison to Indiana averaging 72 points per game and shooting 46.4% from the field.

"They're (N.C. State) outstanding from beyond the arc, so we're going to have to try and run every one of them off the three-point line," Moren said.

One thing Moren wants to work on in general is rebounding. The shots are falling, for the most part, and the defense has been good enough. But rebounding is still an issue for the Hoosiers.

"In general, rebounding for us as a team right now, we've done a poor job," Moren said. "It's something we emphasize every day. We have to be more relentless than them."

Indiana's assistant coach Ashley Williams has some insight on the Wolfpack. She played for N.C. State and knows head coach Wes Moore like the back of her hand. 

Moore is in his 33rd season of coaching and his ninth year as N.C. State's head coach. He is 196-66 with the Wolfpack.

Moren and her team did take a look at last year's game on film, but concluded that the film will loosely serve as a tool to help the Hoosiers determine what worked for them against the top seed. N.C. State has evolved leaving the film as more of a fond Indiana memory.

"We're going to have to play and be much better Thursday night than what we were down in the Bahamas, without a doubt," Moren said.

How to watch NC State at Indiana

  • Who: N.C. State Wolfpack (6-1) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (5-1)
  • When: 7 p.m. ET, Thursday, Dec. 2
  • Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Radio: WHCC 105.1 FM
  • INDIANA RANKS NO. 6 IN AP POLL: After its 69-66 loss to defending national champion Stanford on Thursday, Indiana fell in the weekly Associated Press top-25 poll, but only to No. 6 from No. 4. CLICK HERE.
  • HOOSIERS BEAT MIAMI IN A THRILLING MATCHUP: Indiana ended its sunny trip to the Bahamas with a 53-51 win over the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night. Hoosiers coach Teri Moren said it wasn't a pretty game, and her team got lucky in the end. She said they're all guilty of trying to do the right thing, starting with Mackenzie Holmes, who led the team with 14 points and 11 rebounds. CLICK HERE.
  • INDIANA FALLS TO STANFORD FOR FIRST LOSS: No. 4-ranked Indiana suffered it first loss of the season on Thursday, falling to Stanford 69-66 in the Bahamas. If there's anything to be thankful for in this defeat, Indiana proved it can hang with the champs even on a day when shots weren't falling for the Hoosiers.