In the biggest news of the past week, Nebraska took down Wisconsin in five thrilling sets Saturday night. With the win, the Huskers are the only undefeated major program left (the Citadel is unbeaten but receiving no top 25 votes), have ascended to #1 nationally, and are in sole possession of first place in the B1G (these accomplishments tend to go together).
The match itself is subject to differing descriptions that actually can both be right. There were plenty of errors...and a very high level of play. Wisconsin was the better team through much of the match...and Nebraska played the bigger points better. Nebraska won without their best offensive player...and with a huge assist from the home crowd. At the end of the day, as cliched as it sounds, Nebraska was incredibly resilient and emerged victorious in a match that either team could’ve won.
There are enough good teams out there—Stanford, Louisville, Texas (winners of nine straight)—that is would be foolish to just assume UW and Nebraska are on a collision course for the NCAA title, but we can at least hope they’re placed on opposite sides of the bracket. In the meantime, mark November 24 on your calendar. That’s Black Friday and, immediately following the Iowa @ Nebraska football game (which Wisconsin fans may well have a vested interest in), Nebraska will visit Wisconsin in the rematch. Great scheduling decision, B1G!
ELSEWHERE LAST WEEK
- Purdue is your team of the week. They avenged their previous loss to Indiana with a four set victory, then went to Happy Valley and beat the Nittany Lions in four sets. That sent their RPI zooming from 25 to 15. Hosting a sub-regional the first weekend is now a reasonable goal. For their part, PSU is still in third in the B1G and 13 in RPI, so not a devastating loss.
- Indiana salvaged the week with a tough five set win over OSU. The Hoosiers are sitting at 46 in the RPI. Keep winning, Indiana. You can’t feel comfortable. Tricky match @Illinois tonight (on BTN!).
- Minnesota went 2-0 last week defeating Rutgers and Michigan State. Those don’t move the needle much, but 6-4 in conference play and 39 in the RPI suggests they Gophers may be righting the ship.
- Ohio State is at 54 in the RPI, but the losses to Wisconsin and Indiana mean the record (7-12/4-6) is getting to be an eyesore. Beating NW and Michigan this week is an absolute must.
- Illinois is at 95 in the RPI, which is probably too far gone, but a 2-0 week in home matches vs. Indiana and Purdue this week might, just might, be cause for re-assessment. Let’s see if they can pull if off.
- #1 Nebraska: 19-0/10-0 (Last Week: W @NW (3 sets), W vs. Wisc. (5); next: vs. MD, vs. Rut.)
- #2 Wisconsin: 18-1/9-1 (LW: W vs. OSU (3), L @Neb. (5); next: @MSU, vs. Minn.)
- #13 Penn State: 14-5/8-2 (LW: W vs. Iowa (3), L vs. Pur. (4); next: @Mich., @MSU)
- #16 Purdue: 13-6/7-3 (LW: W vs. Ind. (4), W @PSU (4); next: vs. Minn., @Ill.)
- (RV-29) Indiana: 16-7/6-4 (LW: L @Pur. (4), W vs. OSU (5); next: @Ill., @NW)
- (RV-26) Minnesota: 10-8/6-4 (LW: W vs. Rut. (3), W vs. MSU (4); next: @Pur., @Wisc.)
- Illinois: 10-10/5-5 (LW: W @MD (5), W @Rut. (5); next: vs. Ind., vs. Pur.)
- Michigan State: 13-8/5-5 (LW: W vs. Mich. (4), L @Minn. (4); next: vs. Wisc., vs. PSU)
- (RV-31) Ohio State: 7-12/4-6 (LW: L @Wisc. (3), L @Ind. (5); next: vs. NW, @Mich.)
- Maryland: 14-8/4-6 (LW: L vs. Ill. (5), W vs. Iowa (4); next: @Neb., @Iowa)
- Northwestern: 10-10/4-6 (LW: L vs. Neb. (3), W vs. Mich. (5); next: @OSU, vs. Ind.)
- Rutgers: 9-11/1-9 (LW: L @Minn. (3), L vs. Ill. (5); next: @Iowa, @Neb.)
- Michigan: 3-16/1-9 (LW: L @MSU (4), L @NW (5); next: vs. PSU, vs. OSU)
- Iowa: 8-14/0-10 (LW: L @PSU (3), L @MD (4); next: vs. Rut., vs. MD)
ON TV THIS WEEK
This is a sneaky important week. Lotta good matches in terms of positioning. And plenty of options for your viewing pleasure:
Northwestern at Ohio State (5:00 CDT, BTN): An absolute must-win for the Buckeyes.
Indiana at Illinois (7:00 CDT, BTN): Illinois basically has an inside-straight draw’s chance of getting a tournament bid. Indiana is looking solid at the moment. Whoever loses will have greatly harmed their prospects despite losing to a quality opponent.
Minnesota at Purdue (6:00 CDT, BTN): Our first Thursday night match in over a month, and a damn fine one at that. A win would vault the Gophers into a fourth place tie and really announce that their troubles are behind them. A Purdue win would solidify their top 16 ranking, and their hopes of hosting the first weekend of the tournament. [Stay tuned for #15 Wisconsin at #1 Minnesota in men’s hockey after the match!]
Penn State at Michigan (6:00 CDT, BTN): Not the most scintillating match, but a good chance to take in Penn State’s rebuild, which, so far, has been pretty successful. [Like Thursday night, stay tuned for #15 Wisconsin at #1 Minnesota in men’s hockey after the match!]
Penn State at Michigan State (6:00 CDT, BTN): Hey, you get to see Penn State on back-to-back nights. Michigan State has been more competitive than expected this year. That’s about all I can muster.
Maryland at Iowa (8:00 CDT, BTN): Iowa is 0-10. Please don’t expect me to try to sell this one.
Minnesota @ Wisconsin (3:45 CDT, Fox): That’s right. Fox. Just Fox. Not FSN. Fox. A B1G volleyball match on a major network on Sunday afternoon. On the one hand, yes, it would make more sense to feature Nebraska. The whole state would tune in. On the other hand, this is airing right after the Vikings/Packers game, which is really smart scheduling. Let’s keep growing this sport!!!