Ohio State earns fifth consecutive No. 1 seed
PARK RIDGE, Ill. On Sunday, the Big Ten Conference office revealed the bracket for the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, held March 5-8 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Ohio State earned the tournament’s top seed for the fifth straight year after finishing the conference slate with a 15-3 record.
The Big Ten Championship is the Buckeyes’ 12th overall and fifth consecutive, making this Ohio State team the second in conference history to win five straight titles. The last program to do it was Ohio State from 1983-87. This year’s title marks the Buckeyes’ sixth outright crown overall and their third in the last four years. With the No. 1 seed, Ohio State earns its seventh consecutive first-round bye and will play in the first game of Session 3 on Friday at 6 p.m. ET.
Michigan State earned the No. 2 spot with a two-point victory over Purdue on the final day of the regular season. The Spartans ended the Big Ten slate with a 13-5 record and in a three-way tie for second with the Boilermakers and Iowa. With a 2-0 record over Purdue and a 1-0 mark against the Hawkeyes, Michigan State earned its highest seed since the 2005 tournament. The Spartans will open play on Friday in the first game of Session 2 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Purdue earned a top-three seed for the fourth consecutive year after finishing the conference schedule with a 13-5 record. The Boilermakers play their first tournament game during Friday’s first session at approximately 2 p.m. ET. Purdue has never played on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament.
With the No. 4 spot, Iowa earns a top-five seed for the third time in four years, finishing the Big Ten schedule with a 13-5 record. The Hawkeyes’ first tournament game will take place on Friday at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET. Iowa will face off against Minnesota, the No. 5 seed, who is playing in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 game for the second consecutive year. The Golden Gophers concluded the conference slate with an 11-7 record and tied with Indiana in the standings, but earned the tiebreaker by virtue of head-to-head competition.
Indiana will fill the No. 6 seed for the second consecutive year and for the third time in the last four tournaments. The Hoosiers finished the Big Ten slate with an 11-7 record and will play in the tournament’s second game on Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET. Indiana will play No. 11 Michigan, the team against whom the Hoosiers concluded the regular season. The Wolverines ended the season with a 3-15 conference mark and last held the No. 11 slot in 2006.
Wisconsin earned the No. 7 seed after finishing 6-12 in conference, in a tie with Penn State. The Badgers earned the tiebreaker by virtue of a 54-51 win over second-place Michigan State in the team’s home finale. Wisconsin will play No. 10 Northwestern in the first game of the tournament on Thursday at Noon ET. The Wildcats take the No. 10 seed after finishing the conference slate 3-15, in a tie with Michigan. Northwestern had the tiebreak advantage with a win over Minnesota.
The No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup will feature Penn State, who concluded the season with a 6-12 record, vs. 5-13 Illinois. The game will be played at approximately 5 p.m. ET on Thursday in the final game of Session 1. In the No. 9 spot last year, Illinois stormed through the bracket to become the first No. 9 seed in Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament history to advance to the championship game.
Since the first Big Ten Tournament in 1995, six teams have captured postseason titles with Purdue’s seven tournament titles (1998-99-2000-03-04-07-08) setting the Big Ten record. Iowa (1997-2001) and Penn State (1995-96) have each won the tournament twice, while Michigan State and Ohio State earned their first Big Ten Tournament title in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Indiana tied Purdue’s 1998 squad as the lowest seed to win the event when the No. 5 Hoosiers defeated Penn State in the 2002 final for their lone title.
Last year’s Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament set a record for Session 1 attendance and was the fourth-highest attended event in history. The 2008 tournament set records on the court as well as in the stands as Illinois became the first No. 9 seed in history to knock off a No. 1 seed and advance to the title game. Purdue won the championship on a last-second shot by Lakisha Freeman in a 58-56 decision.
All-session ($65) and single-session ($12-16) tickets for the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament are still available and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster charge-by-phone numbers and www.ticketmaster.com.