PARK RIDGE, Ill. The Big Ten Conference office revealed on Sunday the bracket for the 2008 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament presented by Xbox 360 Live, which will be held March 6-9 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. For the fourth consecutive season, Ohio State (22-7, 13-5) earned the No. 1 seed after finishing tied with Iowa (20-9, 13-5) for first in the final conference standings. The Buckeyes earned the top spot by virtue of a 2-0 record against the Hawkeyes.
Ohio State’s No. 1 seed marks the first time in Big Ten history a team has captured four straight top billings. Last year, the Buckeyes became the first conference squad to accomplish the feat in three consecutive seasons. The conference championship marks the Buckeyes’ 11th overall and fourth straight as Ohio State and Michigan State were named co-champions in 2005 before the Buckeyes earned outright titles in 2006 and 2007. The Big Ten championship is Iowa’s ninth overall and first since 1998. The Hawkeyes are seeded second in this year’s tournament, marking the team’s highest slot since 2001 when the team went on to win the tournament title.
Ohio State receives a first-round bye for the sixth consecutive year and will play in the first game of Session 3 on Friday at 6 p.m. ET. The first-round bye is Iowa’s first since 2006. The Hawkeyes will play in the first game of Session 2 on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Earning the No. 3 seed in this year’s bracket, Purdue (15-14, 11-7) maintains its streak of never having played on the first day in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Boilermakers finished the regular season standings tied with Minnesota (20-10, 11-7) in Big Ten play, but earned the No. 3 spot by virtue of a tiebreaker. The Boilermakers and Golden Gophers went 1-1 in head-to-head competition, but Purdue boasted the better record against the top two conference teams. Purdue has earned a seeding within the top three in all but two Big Ten Tournaments.
Minnesota earned the No. 4 seed and will open tournament play against No. 5 Michigan State (18-12, 10-8) in the second game of Session 3 on Friday. The Spartans finished the regular season tied with Indiana (17-13, 10-8) in Big Ten play, but earned the first-round bye on a tiebreaker. This is the sixth consecutive first-round bye for Michigan State. As the No. 6 seed, Indiana will face No. 11 Northwestern (5-25, 1-17) in the second game of Session 1 on Thursday.
The No. 7 seed was also determined by a tiebreaker as Michigan (16-12, 9-9) and Wisconsin (16-12, 9-9) each finished with 9-9 marks in Big Ten action with the Wolverines earning the tiebreak advantage. The No. 7 seed is the highest for Michigan since 2004 when it also captured the No. 7 slot. The Wolverines will play the first game of the 2008 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament presented by Xbox 360 against No. 10 Penn State (13-17, 4-14) at Noon ET on Thursday. The Badgers will take on No. 9 Illinois (16-13, 8-10) in Thursday’s third and final game.
Overall, the bracket for the 2008 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament presented by Xbox 360 Live featured four ties among the top eight teams as the first, third, fifth and seventh seeds were decided by tiebreakers. Three of the four tiebreakers went beyond head-to-head competition and were decided by the teams’ record against the top two conference teams Iowa and Ohio State.
Since the first Big Ten Tournament in 1995, six teams have captured postseason titles with Purdue’s six tournament titles (1998-99-2000-03-04-07) 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.
In 2006, the last year both the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments were held in Indianapolis, the women’s tournament set several attendance records, including for overall and session average. That year, a record 38,638 fans passed through the turnstiles at Conseco Fieldhouse for a record average of 7,728 fans per session. The 2006 tournament also set attendance records for Session 1 (6,015), Session 2 (7,493), Session 3 (7,681) and Session 4 (8,780). The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament has welcomed over 25,000 fans in each event since 1998, and has averaged over 5,000 fans per session each year since 1998.
All-session ($65) and single-session ($12-16) tickets for the 2008 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament presented by Xbox 360 Live 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.