Who? The Boilermakers of Purdue.
What? The name was born as a pejorative, actually. They were mocked for being a bit more blue-collar than their neighbors (well, not in those words, but you get the idea). The official mascot is a full-fledged locomotive, which is awesome but impractical, so Purdue Pete was born.
Where? West Lafayette, Indiana.
When? Sunday at 2:30, versus Kansas State.
Why? I've always felt that 8 and 9 seeds get the worst of it from the committee. "Welcome to the tournament! Your first mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to play a team that's exactly as good as you! If you make it through that battle, you get to play your region's number 1 seed! Enjoy your stay! ^_^!" Purdue is no exception... with the added bonus of playing that second round in Storrs.
How? As an at-large bid from the Big Ten.Surprise? Not really, but it did take me by surprise; Purdue was one of only two at-large teams I didn't have any background information ready for before I got started. (I kept thinking "this file is 34 pages, but there are only 32 teams- who am I missing?!")
Who's driving this thing, anyway? Sharon Versyp, since 2006. I keep thinking she has Playmobil hair.
Record: 20-11 (9-7 Big Ten)
Best win: DePaul (H)
Worst loss: Wisconsin (H)
Notable results: Maryland (L, H, 56-55), Penn State (W, A, 51-49)
There's a lot of height spread around this team, with only two active players (and KK Houser, felled four minutes into the season by an ACL) under six feet tall. You'd think that would result in a better rebounding margin, but it really doesn't. Junior guard Brittany Rayburn leads the team in scoring with 14.4 per game, buttressed by the 12.1 of freshman Courtney Moses and the 11.9 of junior Drey Mingo. You'll be hearing a lot about Mingo during the game, not just for her play, but for her bout with meningitis. (I'd prefer to focus on her 5.9 rebounds per game and solid shooting numbers, myself.) If their Big Three can get the ball at the end of a close game, they'll advance, with their top three scorers all shooting over 80% from the line.