Penn State’s women’s basketball team will have to share the Big Ten regular-season title with just one team and will go into the Big Ten Tournament as the top seed for the third consecutive season.
The Lady Lions (22-6 overall, 13-3 Big Ten) can thank Purdue for the top seed in the conference tournament, which begins Thursday in Indianapolis. Penn State entered Sunday’s play tied with Nebraska and Michigan State with three conference losses, but the Boilermakers blasted the Cornhuskers 82-66. Nebraska (22-6, 12-4), which held the tiebreaker edge against the Lady Lions, dropped to third.
Michigan State (21-8, 13-3) whipped Indiana 76-56 to gain a share of the regular-season title with the Lady Lions. Penn State landed the top seed thanks to a 66-54 triumph in the the only head-to-head meeting with the Spartans this season.
Penn State will open the Big Ten Tournament at noon Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse against the winner between eighth-seeded Ohio State (15-17, 5-11) and ninth-seeded Northwestern (15-14, 5-11). The Lady Lions defeated each of those teams twice during the regular season. Penn State thumped the Buckeyes 66-41 and 74-54 and knocked off the Wildcats 79-75 and 82-73.
Penn State has not won the conference tournament since 1996. The Lady Lions have lost in the semifinals the past two seasons. They’ve been the tournament runner-up five times, the last time in 2011.
With the triumph, Purdue (21-7, 11-5) landed the fourth seed and final bye in the opening round. The Boilermakers are the two-time defending champions. Iowa (23-7, 11-5) is the fifth seed.
No team that has played on the opening day has ever won the tournament.