CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois women’s basketball team is into its stretch run of the regular season with just five games remaining before postseason play starts. And for the first time in a long time, the Illini (18-6, 8-5 B1G) are in position to make some noise in March.

Illinois currently sits in sixth place in the Big Ten standings with the team poised enter the conference tournament in Minneapolis March 1-5 as a single digit seed for the first time since 2013. It’s been quite the turnaround for the Orange and Blue in head coach Shauna Green’s first year with the program, with the players bought in.

“Just staying mentally locked in and as coach says, ‘Just go 1-0,'” Illinois junior forward Kendall Bostic said about the squad’s approach. “So not looking too far into the future but also knowing that these games can impact that so just staying in the present, being where we are and focusing on the team at hand and being able to learn from mistakes and celebrate a win so I think it’s all just a mental process.”

Illinois hasn’t qualified for the NCAA tournament since 2003 but in ESPN’s latest mock bracket, the Illini a No. 9 seed, taking on Alabama in the first round with top seed UConn hosting.

Illinois ends the regular season playing three out of its five games on the road, starting with back-to-back match-ups away from home Thursday at Nebraska and Sunday at Maryland.