Senior center Renee Bennett attempts to shoot the ball during the game against Toledo on March 4 at Worthen Arena. Toledo beat Ball State in overtime 76-66. Emma Rogers // DN
PREVIEW: Ball State women's basketball takes on Indiana in WNIT
Ball State women's basketball continues its season in the Women's National Invitation Tournament with a marquee matchup against Indiana.
The Cardinals (21-10, 14-4 MAC) and Hoosiers (20-10, 10-6 Big Ten) haven't played against each other since Nov. 12, 2010.
"We're excited with the draw," head coach Brady Sallee said. "I think our kids will be pumped up to play IU, clearly there's an in-state rivalry there. It doesn't really matter a whole lot to me to be honest with you, but I get the fan part of it."
IU won that matchup 81-66, but Ball State was in the midst of a 9-21 season. Since Sallee took over in 2013, the Cardinals have posted five consecutive winning seasons, making the WNIT each year.
The Hoosiers are the fourth Big Ten team the Cardinals have been matched up with in the WNIT in the last five seasons. In 2013, the Cardinals beat Minnesota 54-51 in the first round and in 2016 Ball State went on the road and beat Iowa 77-72 in the first round.
"This time of year can be tough when your expectations were to play in a different tournament and you know you were good enough to play in that other tournament," Sallee said. "So when you get a draw like a Big Ten team like Indiana, well, it piques your interest level a little bit."
Ball State is 3-25 all-time against IU, and IU is 12-2 at home this season.
IU is led by junior guard Tyra Buss, who finished 10th in the Big Ten with 18.5 points per game.
"She's just dynamic," Sallee said. "She plays with a flair and a swagger and it can get frustrating a little bit when she gets going."
Hoosiers junior guard Amanda Cahill also had a strong season with 15 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, the latter being fifth in the Big Ten.
IU, though, had the second-worst shooting percentage against in the Big Ten (42.6 percent), while Ball State led the Mid-American Conference by making 44.8 percent of their shots. The Hoosiers also allowed opponents to make 47.5 percent of their two-pointers, and the Cardinals boast first-team All-MAC center Renee Bennett, a senior who scored 17.2 points and hauls in 7.9 rebounds per game.
Sallee said he expects more fans to make the drive down to Bloomington given its proximity to both Muncie and Indianapolis.
"We've been trying to play IU, so now they tell us we have to so that's what we're going to go do," Sallee said. "Hopefully that materializes into maybe playing them a little more down the road, but right now our focus is preparing for a good basketball team."
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Assembly Hall in Bloomington.