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MSU set to face tough opponents

March 2, 2011

The bracket is set for the 2011 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, and for the first time in school history, the Spartans were awarded the top seed.

Having locked up the conference title outright for the first time, the Spartans (25-4 overall, 13-3 Big Ten) now will attempt to battle their way to another championship.

Penn State (22-8, 11-5) — which came up just short of grabbing a share of the title — avoided the chaos that lies beneath them and were able to secure the No. 2 seed.

There was a four-way tie for third place with conference records of 10-6. Having gone 5-0 against the other three teams, the Wolverines grabbed the No. 3 seed.

Iowa took No. 4 and Ohio State took No. 5, the two teams receive a first-round bye, but play each other Friday.

No. 7-seed Purdue will open the tournament against No. 10-seed Indiana for a shot to knock off Penn State.

Wisconsin falls to No. 6 and will play last-place Illinois, the winner going to take on Michigan.

Finally, No. 8-seed Northwestern faces No. 9-seed Minnesota for a shot at MSU in the second round.

For the Spartans, despite the first-round bye they seem to have drawn the short end of the stick. In the teams’ regular-season meetings, the Spartans struggled with both teams before going on late-game runs to win.

If MSU manages to win in the second round, they would face Iowa or Ohio State — teams that handed MSU all three conference losses.

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