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Close to home

From Purdue's campus to the United Center in Chicago, it's about 124 miles.

That's what getting a high seed can do.

The No. 3 seed Boilermakers landed close to home when the NCAA tournament draw was revealed on Sunday night.

Of the 15 players on Purdue's roster, 13 are from Indiana and Illinois. Ryne Smith is from Ohio, about 250 miles from the United Center. Sandi Marcius is from a bit farther: Croatia.

The last four seasons that Purdue has advanced to the NCAA tournament, it has played in Spokane, Wash., Portland, Phoenix, Houston, Washington D.C. and New Orleans.

The program hasn't played this close to its campus in the tournament since also playing in Chicago for the first two rounds in 1998.

"It's a good opportunity, just play with a big Purdue following in Chicago," JaJuan Johnson said. "It's easy for our family and friends to be able to come see us play. That's going to be huge for us."

But it would seem that Chicago offers mixed results.

Being closer to home could mean more ticket requests from family and friends -- players get six tickets apiece, Johnson said -- and the hassle that comes along with dealing with those distractions.

"I think if we went to a place like Tampa or Arizona or California, it'd be even more of a distraction because of where we are and it's more of a spring break," Ryne Smith said. "But if you have a distraction at the NCAA tournament, there's something wrong with you. We're just excited about being in it and playing because it's the greatest sporting event in the world."

And what about the talk about potential homecourt advantage playing in Chicago?

Well ...

"Obviously, we played in Indianapolis this past weekend and it didn't go up to its standards," sophomore Kelsey Barlow said of Purdue's early exit from the Big Ten tourament. "So, really, at this point, everybody is looking to survive and make their season a little bit longer. At the end of the day, it just comes down to playing."

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