INDIANAPOLIS – The No. 21 and fourth-seeded Purdue women's basketball team has worked its way through the Big Ten Tournament bracket, and today will face No. 24 and sixth seed Nebraska in the final game.
The championship game will be played at 4 this afternoon and will be televised by ESPN2.
"When you get to the final it's going to be tough," Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing."
Purdue and Nebraska played only once during the season – in triple overtime. After three extra periods of play on Feb. 2 – the first triple overtime in either program's history – the Cornhuskers came out on top, 93-89.
According to Versyp, Purdue has seen everything the Cornhuskers can offer, and vice versa. Thus, she anticiaptes today's matchup will come down to basics.
"They gave us everything and we played an exceptional game in three overtimes so we just go back to the basics and play a team," Versyp said.
Nebraska's 6-seed position in the tournament may be deceiving. The Cornhuskers were just one game away from a four-way tie for second place. However, ended in the sixth-seeded slot.
Both the Boilers and the Cornhuskers underwent similar mid-season difficulties, going through tough losing stretches during conference play. Purdue dropped five-of-six decisions in February and Nebraska four-of-five in the same month.
In light of the teams' similarities and their past history, Versyp doesn't there facing a lower seed is an advantage.
"Nebraska had a bump like we did in February," Versyp said. "They went on a losing streak and so did we. We turned it around at the right time and they're playing really good basketball and so are we. I think our depth is going to come in (to our advantage). But they're a great basketball team and have been a great addition to the Big Ten."
Nebraska knocked out 11-seed Northwestern, 3-seed Iowa and 2-seed Ohio State on its way to the championship game.
Against Ohio State, Nebraska's offense was evenly distributed among starters and bench players as they took the semifinal game, 77-62, Saturday evening.
The Purdue program has won the tournament seven times during its 17-year history, the most of any conference team. However, the current team has yet to get a win. The last Purdue Big Ten Tournament champions were in 2008.
"As a senior it's a goal when you come in as a freshman," senior guard Brittany Rayburn said. "We've had a lot of fun with this group, it's a great young group of women and we've been through a lot of things in our time here ... It's something that we've worked extremely hard for and it would be a great way to finish our season (before the NCAA Tournament)."
Purdue will spend the morning scouting and re-familiarizing itself with Nebraska. Versyp said the key will be to play Purdue's tough-nosed defense and contain Nebraska's offense.
"The biggest thing is just playing good, solid defense. Matching their intensity, they're a great offensive team and a defensive team as well."
The championship game will be played in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.