Nov. 2, 2004
For the third time in the 11th-year history of the event, Northwestern University will serve as the host for the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament from November 5-7 at the Leonard B. Thomas Sports Complex in Evanston, Ill. NU becomes only the second institution to host on three occasions as Ohio State also served as Tournament hosts in 1994, 1999 and 2002.
For the first time in Conference history three teams claimed the Big Ten regular season title with Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State finishing tied atop the final regular season standings. With the three top teams all splitting their two games between each other, Michigan was awarded the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye based on the next tiebreaker of total goal differential in all Conference games. The Wolverines, ranked eighth in the latest STX/NFHCA National Coaches Poll, enter the Tournament winning 11 of their last 13 matches. Michigan opened the season with losses against two of the nation's top-ranked teams - No. 1 Wake Forest and No. 2 North Carolina, but rallied back to compile a 14-5 overall mark. The Wolverines claimed the Big Ten Tournament title on two occasions, producing back-to-back crowns in 1999 and 2000. The school has also advanced to the championship match in five of the last seven events.
Second-seeded Iowa is ranked 14th in the country after winning eight of its last 10 matches, including a 4-3 overtime victory over the Wolverines, while also claiming a share of the Big Ten title. Four of the Hawkeyes' losses have been at the hands of three of the nation's top five teams (No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 2 North Carolina and No. 5 MIchigan State). Iowa, which won the first Big Ten Tournament title in 1994, will look to return to the championship game since falling to Ohio State in the 2001 finals.
No. 3 seed Michigan State is the defending Big Ten Tournament champion as the Spartans have collected the last two tourney titles in 2002 and 2003. They will look to become only the second school to claim the crown in three consecutive years as Penn State notched four straight titles from 1995 through 1998. Michigan State, which is rated No. 5 nationally, has boasted a record of 15-2 this season, falling to both No. 1 Wake Forest and in-state rival Michigan in overtime.
Penn State, rated 18th nationally, is the fourth seed and has racked up 10 wins this season. The Nittany Lions lead all Big Ten squads with 14 tourney wins overall and four Conference Tournament titles, earning four straight from 1995 through 1998. Last season, PSU advanced to the championship game but fell to MSU, 5-3, marking only the second time in six Tournament finals that the Nittany Lions did not claim the crown. Penn State will face fifth-seeded Ohio State in the first round, as the Buckeyes boast an all-time record of 11-9 in Conference Tournament play, including winning their first tourney crown in 2001.
Indiana and host Northwestern round out the field as the sixth and seventh seeds, respectively. After dropping their first five Conference games, the Hoosiers rallied against Ohio State to claim a 3-1 victory on Oct. 29, and finish regular season play with a 1-5 League mark. The Wildcats also posted a 1-5 Conference record, claiming their only win against Indiana, 2-1, in overtime. NU will look for some homefield magic as the Wildcats have posted a 3-10 Tournament mark, while Indiana will be seeking its first Big Ten Tournament victory.
The championship game is set for Sunday, November 7, at 1 p.m., and will be televised by College Sports Television on a tape-delayed basis. CSTV will broadcast the championship game on Monday, November 8 at 8 p.m. CST.