Almost as if by plan, Wisconsin’s Sarah Franklin was named B1G Player of the Week last week. And Nebraska’s Lexi Rodriguez was named Defensive Player of the Week. On Saturday night, #1 Wisconsin and #2 Nebraska (that’s nationally, mind you) will face off in Lincoln. Don’t be surprised if the matchup is framed as a battle of UW’s firepower vs. Nebraska’s defense. There’s plenty of truth to the framing. Wisconsin has a seemingly endless supply of giant frontline players while Nebraska, led by Rodriguez, contests every point.
But these are the top two teams in the nation. They both do almost everything well (each has the occasional service issue, and UW can get a little loose receiving serves, though not so much lately). Nebraska is especially young, but neither will be rebuilding next year, so this is unlikely to be the last big time showdown among these powerhouses.
That said, Saturday night IS the next showdown, and you really ought to do yourself a favor and watch (7:00 CDT, BTN)
- Wisconsin still hasn’t dropped a set in conference play. The sweep of Rutgers included a 25-4 second set where UW hit .700 (14 kills on 20 chances with 0 errors) and Rutgers hit in the negative. Oof.
- Nebraska swept PSU. The first two sets were close, and the Huskers erased a sizable early lead in the second, but there is a clear gap between the two teams. PSU bears watching, though. They’re coming together.
- Indiana went 2-0 including a win over Purdue. The Hoosiers are tied for fourth (with Purdue) and are receiving votes for the top 25. Big week upcoming for Indiana as they head to West Lafayette and host Ohio State.
- Purdue bounced back from the loss to Indiana with a gutty four-set road win in Columbus. The Boilers are sitting at 25 in the RPI. Gotta get the closer to 16 if they hope to host the first weekend. A win @PSU this weekend would certainly help.
- Minnesota needed five sets to beat Northwestern at home, but the Gophers can’t argue with a 2-0 week. The RPI (38) is healthy enough (given recalibrated expectations), and this week—hosting Rutgers and MSU—should see Minnesota back above .500 in conference play. It gets real after next week, though. Minnesota will be an intriguing team to watch in November.
- Ohio State is in some trouble. The home loss to Purdue was a missed opportunity, the 7-10 record looks bad, and even though the losses are all to quality competition, the RPI (#56) suggests a team on the wrong side of the bubble right now. Losing Mac Podraza to the portal didn’t help, but the Buckeyes still have Emily Londot and Rylee Rader. They need to make a move. This week: @Wisconsin, @Indiana. Oh boy.
- #1 Wisconsin: 17-0/8-0 (Last Week: W vs. Rut. (3 sets), W vs. MD (3); next: vs. OSU, @Neb.)
- #2 Nebraska: 17-0/8-0 (LW: W vs. MSU (4), W vs. PSU (3); next: @NW, vs. Wisc.)
- #11 Penn State: 13-4/7-1 (LW: W @Iowa (3), L @Neb. (3); next: vs. Iowa, vs. Pur.)
- #19 Purdue: 11-6/5-3 (LW: L @Ind. (4), W @OSU (4); next: vs. Ind., @PSU)
- Indiana: 15-6/5-3 (LW: W vs. Pur. (4), W vs. Mich. (3); next: @Pur., vs. OSU)
- Michigan State: 12-7/4-4 (LW: L @Neb. (4), W @Iowa (4); next: vs. Mich., @Minn.)
- Ohio State: 7-10/4-4 (LW: W vs. Ill. (4), L vs. Pur. (4); next: @Wisc., @Ind.)
- Minnesota: 8-8/4-4 (LW: W @Mich. (3), W vs. NW (5); next: vs. Rut., vs. MSU)
- Maryland: 13-7/3-5 (LW: L @NW (4), L @Wisc. (3); next: vs. Ill., vs. Iowa)
- Illinois: 8-10/3-5 (LW: L @OSU (4), W vs. Rut. (4); next: @MD, @Rut.)
- Northwestern: 9-9/3-5 (LW: W vs. MD (4), L @Minn. (5); next: vs. Neb., vs. Mich.)
- Rutgers: 9-9/1-7 (LW: L @Wisc. (3), L @Ill. (4); next: @Minn., vs. Ill.)
- Michigan: 3-14/1-7 (LW: L vs. Minn. (3), L @Ind. (3); next: @MSU, @NW)
- Iowa: 9-9/0-8 (LW: L vs. PSU (3), L vs. MSU (4); next: @PSU, @MD)
ON TV THIS WEEK
Michigan @ MSU (5:00, CDT), BTN
Indiana @ Purdue (6:00), BTN+: Sorry. I don’t usually put BTN+ games in the TV listings, but want to point out the missed opportunity here. These two are tied for fourth in the conference. Both on target for an NCAA bid. It really should be the BTN game and Mich/MSU relegated to BTN+.
Ohio State @ Wisconsin (7:00), BTN
Wisconsin @ Nebraska (7:00), BTN: See above; there’s no night football game (ed.—I know, I know...), this is what you should be watching.
Purdue @ Penn State (1:00) FS1: Don’t overlook this. Splendid battle on a non-BTN network. Well worth checking out.