6-Banner Sunday: Women fall to South Carolina, Bryson Tucker commits and Mackenzie Mgbako is back

  • 03/31/2024 8:01 am in

Welcome to another edition of 6-Banner Sunday, a joint production between The Assembly Call and Inside the Hall, and presented by our friends at Trueblood Real Estate, where we highlight the five most essential IU basketball stories of the past week, plus take a look at how the other IU sports programs are doing.

The women’s team’s successful 2023-2024 season ended in the Sweet Sixteen in a thriller against undefeated South Carolina. Also, the men had a really good week when it came to putting together next year’s roster with a recruit and two returnees.

Besides this, other results from March Madness and weekly shows. We will, as usual, conclude with a look at other IU sports, led by swimming and diving at the national championships.

Here is what’s in this week’s edition:

• Women fall to South Carolina in Sweet Sixteen
• Bryson Tucker commits; Mackenzie Mgbako will return for sophomore season
• Kel’el Ware declares for the 2024 NBA draft
• NCAA tournament results
• Podcast on the Brink and Back Home Network shows
• Hoosier Roundup

Banner #1 – Women fall to South Carolina in Sweet Sixteen

The NCAA tournament produced a couple of nail-biting games for the women’s team this week. It started with a win over Oklahoma that saw the Hoosiers rally from a late 64-60 deficit to advance to the second weekend by a count of 75-68.

However, the successful year ended against undefeated and top-ranked South Carolina. IU faced a 61-40 disadvantage near the midway point of the third quarter. However, they pulled off a 20-4 run to get back in the game and kept it close the rest of the way. It was only a 74-72 deficit in the final minute for the Cream and Crimson. However, the Gamecocks hit a three-pointer that sealed the deal as they held on 79-75.

The loss ended the greatest four-year run in program history at 99-25. It included three Sweet Sixteens, an Elite Eight and a Big Ten championship.

This season finished at 26-6 overall with a 17-0 record at home. The non-conference saw signature wins over Tennessee and Princeton on a neutral site and triumphs on the road against Maryland and Nebraska once league play began. The victory over the Terps in College Park was the first one there in program history. However, the top moment was an 86-69 domination of Iowa in a sold-out and raucous Assembly Hall. This full arena led the way as Indiana averaged over 10,000 fans for the first time and was one of just five schools to do so in 2023-2024.

The common link of these strong results is All-American post-player Mackenzie Holmes. She leaves as the all-time leading scorer in program history and ahead of every Hoosier basketball player not named Calbert Cheaney. After spending just four weeks ranked before her arrival on campus, IU never spent a week outside the top 25 once she set foot in Bloomington. The other departure is Sara Scalia, who spent two seasons on campus after transferring from Minnesota. She was instrumental from long range as part of an attack that saw the Hoosiers lead the country in three-point percentage this year at 40 percent.

The rest of the starters are likely back with a strong culture built. This recent run of success should lead to continued postseason appearances and more winning results moving forward. Under head coach Teri Moren, a winning program has been established after little success before her arrival.

Banner #2 – Bryson Tucker commits; Mackenzie Mgbako will return for sophomore season

While the men’s team roster remains in flux as the offseason continues, a few more things are now known. The biggest was the announcement that 5-star recruit Bryson Tucker pledged to the Hoosiers, marking the fourth straight year of a top commit in the spring.

Also, Mackenzie Mgbako and Gabe Cupps will return to the team for the 2024-2025 season. They join Trey Galloway, Anthony Leal, Jakai Newton, and Malik Reneau, who have also said they will be back. Other than these players, Indiana must turn to the transfer portal to fill the rest of the open scholarships.

Banner #3 – Kel’el Ware declares for the 2024 NBA draft

While the roster for next season is still far from set with six spots open, a big-name Hoosier will not be back. As expected, starting center Kel’el Ware announced he is headed to the NBA.

Ware goes to the professional ranks after a huge leap forward in Bloomington following a struggling freshman year at Oregon. In 2023-2024, he was IU’s leading scorer, averaging nearly 16 points per game. He was also instrumental in the five-game winning streak near the end of the season.

Banner #4 – NCAA tournament results

While the Hoosiers are not in March Madness, two other Big Ten teams remained heading into this weekend. However, Illinois succumbed to Connecticut in an Elite Eight blowout that saw a 30-0 run for the Huskies at one point. However, it was the first time since 2005 that the Illini made it out of the second round and they then defeated Iowa State.

Meanwhile, Purdue remains alive after beating Gonzaga to advance to the final eight for the second time in the Matt Painter era. They face Tennessee today at 2:20 p.m. ET on CBS, seeking their first Final Four since 1980.

Outside of the conference, Alabama made the Final Four for the first time. The last spot there will be taken today at 5:05 p.m. ET on CBS by an ACC squad as Duke and North Carolina State face off.

Also, Indiana State continues to grab headlines locally. They advanced to the NIT Final Four at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, just an hour from their campus.

Banner #5 – Podcast on the Brink and Back Home Network shows

Inside the Hall and the Back Home Network had several new shows in the last few days. ITH’s Podcast on the Brink had Tony Adragna on to discuss Tucker’s commitment.

Assembly Call had its Thursday radio program. Meanwhile, Doing The Work did episodes after the Oklahoma and South Carolina contests.

Also, Crimson Cast had a watch party during the contest with the Sooners as well as two additional episodes. Finally, X’s and Joe’s discussed March Madness this week.

Banner #6 – Hoosier Roundup

• Men’s swimming and diving finished fourth at the NCAA Championships.

• Baseball lost a series against Illinois last Sunday. After that, they defeated Middle Tennessee and split a fourgame weekend with Butler.

• Softball’s struggles continued as they were swept by Penn State and lost their first two against Michigan. This was sandwiched by a midweek victory over Louisville.

• Men’s tennis fell to Cornell but rebounded with a win over Penn State. They also rescheduled their upcoming match against Butler.

• Women’s tennis fell to Penn State and Michigan.

• Water polo lost to USC.

• Track and Field opened their outdoor season in Baton Rouge and Raleigh.

Now go enjoy yourself a 6-banner Sunday.

Aaron (Ari) Shifron
Assembly Call Contributor

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