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Purdue University

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Big Ten women’s tournament
at Indianapolis
Today: First round
Friday: Quarterfinals
Saturday: Semifinals
Sunday: Finals

Women’s teams on different paths

Boilers cruising, Hoosiers reeling before tournament

The Purdue women’s basketball team will try to continue its dominance of the Big Ten tournament, which begins today at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Boilermakers have won it two years in a row and own nine of the past 16 championships, giving them the overall record in the event’s 19 seasons.

Fourth-seeded Purdue earned a first-round bye and will face either No. 5 seed Iowa or No. 12 seed Illinois at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

After finishing the regular season 21-7, including an 11-5 conference mark, No. 17 Purdue is considered a shoo-in for the NCAA tournament. But another deep run in Indianapolis figures to help for seeding purposes and momentum.

“The only way you perform well is if you are successful,” Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. “If you are successful, then all of a sudden it breeds more success. We’ll try to go as far as we can. We love the Big Ten tournament.”

The Boilermakers don’t lack for an emotional storyline.

Despite being scheduled for knee surgery Monday, second-team all-conference guard KK Houser may play spot minutes wearing a brace.

The Boilermakers have won six in a row since she tore an anterior cruciate ligament Feb. 2 in a loss at Michigan State.

“Ever since KK went down, she’s been positive energy,” guard Courtney Moses said. “Her spirit has increased even more. We had faith, but to actually do it and be saying we went 6-0 is a storybook ending.”

Versyp said she would allow Houser, a senior who played a few minutes in Purdue’s regular season finale, to decide whether she enters another game.

Meanwhile, unranked Indiana (18-11, 5-11) limps into this tournament on a 1-5 skid. The 10th-seeded Hoosiers drew seventh-seeded Michigan at 6:30 p.m. today.

Gunning to become the lowest seed to win the title, Indiana must make some serious noise to re-enter the NCAA tournament discussion.

“You never want to leave it up to committees and people,” Hoosiers coach Curt Miller said. “Good résumé for not only the WNIT but the (Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament). We still have games to go. We still have dreams of winning the Big Ten tournament and going to the NCAA tournament.”

After a 14-0 start, the Hoosiers seemed poised for more, but they still posted their best win total in five years and left Miller proud. The No. 10 seed is their highest since 2011.

“There’s no one – not one person that follows women’s basketball in the Big Ten – that thought we would be anything but 12th,” Miller said. “Two years ago, we completed a six-win season. For us to triple that win total in just two years, it’s perseverance to keep plugging away.”

Indiana is 14-18 all time in the conference tournament.

“We’re going to prepare hard not to be a one-and-done team up in Indy,” Miller said.

Penn State is the top seed for a third year in a row. The Nittany Lions finished tied for first place with No. 2 seed Michigan State. Nebraska is seeded third, meaning every team that earned a top-four seed last season did so again this year.

Penn State (11), Nebraska (16), Michigan State (19) and Iowa (23) are the other teams ranked in the Associated Press poll.

The event runs for four days, with the championship game played Sunday.

“The Big Ten is exceptionally tough,” Versyp said. “We’ve played the top teams in the country.

“We’re just going to keep having fun.”