Women take the court first 

Big 10 Conference begins this Thursday

Editors note: Andrew Roberts will be blogging about the Big 10 Conference on www.nuvo.net/nuvoBLOG/.

Chivalry is alive and well in the Big 10 Conference, as the ladies get first crack at the court this weekend to determine the Midwest’s elite squad. The women’s tournament begins at Conseco Fieldhouse Thursday and features 10 games to be played over four days, culminating with the title bout on Sunday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN 2.

An intrastate showdown looms for round two, as Indiana and Purdue will square off in a Friday matinee — provided that Indiana defeats 11th seeded Northwestern in round one Thursday. Meanwhile, the Boilers earned their traditional bye, having never suffered the nuisance of a first round since the tournament’s inception in 1995.

Purdue has won the tournament six times, meaning that if they were to win on Sunday at Conseco, they would match the championship total of the other 10 conference teams … combined. Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan State have also won titles, along with Indiana, who in 2002 tied Purdue’s record as the lowest seeded team (5) to best the annual win-or-go-home tourney.

This year’s top seed Ohio State will be cheering for the Hoosiers, anxiously hoping for a grudge match of last Monday’s game — which was awarded to IU in error, and then quietly swept under the rug; curiously forgotten like one of Bush’s corporate bail-outs. With 2:38 left in the game, the scorekeeper awarded IU with a free-throw point, which had been disqualified by the official. No one, apparently including the entire Buckeye bench or scorekeeper, noticed the error, and the game resulted in an overtime IU win. OSU is seeking its fourth consecutive Big 10 title, but will have a harder time of it without starting forward Star Allen, who was declared academically ineligible after first semester.

Tickets are $65 for access to all 10 games, and $12-$16 for single session tickets, which will be readily available at the box office throughout the weekend. Thursday’s games begin at noon, and the three games will be played consecutively, with 25-minute breaks in between. Friday’s action starts at 11:30 a.m., immediately followed by a potential Crimson and Gold Cup match between Purdue and IU. An evening double-header ensues at 6 p.m. The semi-finals tip-off at 6 p.m. Saturday, and the last bid for the finals will be decided 25 minutes after the final whistle. Finally, the nationally televised championship battle will be waged Sunday at 5:30 p.m. 

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