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Volleyball!!! B1G Schools make up a quarter of the Sweet 16

TV Listings, previews, witty conversation below!

A young Boilermaker squad is better quicker than most thought. Eva Hudson and co. will try to knock off 2-seed Oregon tonight.

Hey everybody, the B1G had a pretty good opening weekend, going 9-1, and sending four of five teams through to the Sweet 16. Because of how the bracket was populated, no more than two B1G teams can make the Final Four, which means one, and maybe two, B1G vs. B1G matchups the next couple of days. More shortly. For now a quick recap.

LAST WEEK

(1) Nebraska Cornhuskers over Long Island: 25-13, 25-16, 25-22; over (8) Missouri: 25-14, 25-19, 25-21

Nebraska might have let their foot off of the gas a bit in the third set vs. LIU. And I’m sure somebody’s shoelaces were a little crooked too. The Huskers took care of business and were never in any sort of danger. They’re healthy. They’re the #1 overall seed. And their postseason essentially starts today.

(1) Wisconsin Badgers over Jackson State: 25-18, 25-9, 25-18; over Miami (FL): 25-23, 25-15, 25-17

The second rounder with Miami was a rematch from the regular season (also won by UW in three), and Miami came out quick grabbing 14-9 lead in the first. However, the Badgers settled in and asserted themselves. The second set saw UW close on a 10-2 run after finding themselves tied at 13.

(3) Purdue Boilermakers over Fairfield: 25-17, 25-13, 25-12; over (6) Marquette: 25-21, 25-23, 24-26, 26-24

True to the scoreline, this was a taut, exciting match. Marquette held a set point in the fourth, but Purdue won three straight points to take the match. Marquette is a good team. They split the Big East title with Creighton, who is still alive. But Purdue hit better and was better in the big moments. They’re probably a slight underdog to Oregon Thursday night, but they’ll be playing in Madison and it should be an exceptional match.

(5) Penn State Nittany Lions over Yale: 25-17, 23-25, 25-22, 25-16; over (4) Kansas: 25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 13-25, 15-13

Yale gave PSU a solid fight, actually jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the third, but PSU found their footing and advanced. The second round match with Kansas was one of the best of the opening weekend. After being blown out in the fourth, PSU played a thrilling fifth set. Kansas’s 10-8 lead was the only two-point lead until PSU notched match point. PSU’s balanced attack—four players with 10 or more kills—was just enough to edge an amazing performance from Reagan Cooper (29 kills, 3 errors, .464%). Great road victory for the Nittany Lions.

Minnesota Golden Gophers over (6) Utah State: 25-17, 25-14, 25-23; defeated by (3) Creighton 21-25, 20-25, 27-29

Beating Utah State was an upset that really wasn’t an upset and the Gophers had plenty of chances against Creighton, holding three set points in the third, but the Bluejays were just a bit too tough. Overall, Minnesota fell a bit short of expectations this year, but there’s no doubt they were playing their best down the stretch, and bringing Taylor Landfair back next year will go a long way toward Minnesota being better next year.

THIS WEEK

  • All Sweet 16 games Thursday

Pittsburgh Regional

11:00 CST: (2) Louisville vs. (3) Creighton (ESPN2)

1:30 CST: (1) Pittsburgh vs. (4) Washington State (ESPNU)

Nebraska Regional

1:00 CST: (1) Nebraska vs. (5) Georgia Tech (ESPN2)

3:30 CST: (2) Kentucky vs. (3) Arkansas (ESPNU)

Wisconsin Regional

6:00 CST: (1) Wisconsin vs. (5) Penn State (ESPN2)

8:30 CST: (2) Oregon vs. (3) Purdue (ESPNU)

Stanford Regional

8:00 CST: (2) Texas vs. (3) Tennessee (ESPN2)

10:30 CST: (1) Stanford vs. (5) Arizona State (ESPNU)

  • Regional Finals will be Saturday at 3:00, 5:00, 7:00, and 9:00 CST on ESPNU

Let’s break this down a bit more:

Nebraska’s chances? Georgia Tech boasts a win over Louisville and is a formidable Round of 16 opponent, but the match is in Lincoln, the Huskers are the better team, and it would take a pretty amazing performance for the Yellowjackets to take down Nebraska. Kentucky won it all in 2020 and is a fairly established program. They’re a favorite over relative upstart Arkansas. Those two finished 1-2 in the SEC, with the difference being Kentucky’s sweep of the Razorbacks. A Nebraska/Kentucky regional final would be appointment viewing, with the Huskers favored.

What about Wisconsin/Penn State/Purdue? Obviously this won’t be a cakewalk for the Badgers since they’ve already lost to both Purdue and Penn State. However, being in Madison is a big advantage and, frankly, I kind of like that Wisconsin will have the chance to avenge a couple of defeats. Of course, UW and PSU matched up last year in the Sweet 16, in Madison, and UW needed to go to five sets after winning the first two, so be careful what you wish for and all that. PSU is perfectly capable of ruining Wisconsin’s season, but the Badgers were a bit banged up when they met up in State College, and looked really looked in in their sweep of Nebraska. We’ll see if “tournament mindset” is a thing for Wisconsin, or if Penn State simply is good enough to take down Wisconsin twice.

As for Purdue, they’ve really come on. Their nine-match winning streak includes wins over Penn State and Wisconsin, so they have every reason to think a Final Four trip is possible. And the future is bright as the 1-2 tandem of Eva Hudson (soph) and Chloe Chicoine (frosh) have combined to register over 60% of the Boilermakers’ total number of kills. But forget the future. I think they have a 50/50 shot of beating Oregon and advancing to a regional final against a team they’ve already beaten this year, whether UW or PSU.

BRT: I haven’t been able to watch as much of the right side of the bracket yet, but since the games in Madison are at an actually convenient evening time tonight, I look forward to rectifying that tonight. Nebraska is playing smack in the middle of the work day, which is so annoying, but I’ve already convinced a colleague that he is about to become a massive volleyball fan and we’ve made viewing arrangements (we’re playing it on a TV in the department common room and calling it a student social, lol.) I’m nervous about Georgia Tech after watching the fifth set of their last round against Florida. I’m hoping that the Husker home crowd - even on a Thursday afternoon - is able to help rally the ‘skers to a big win.

I don’t want to look ahead to Kentucky too much (assuming Kentucky wins, which I think they will do), because I have seen enough vulnerabilities in the Huskers in this tournament (though reportedly, they were battling loads of illness last week - hopefully everyone’s colds are done now) that I’m not getting ahead of myself. However, a re-match with Kentucky would be fascinating stuff, and a very tough match for Nebraska. I’ll be very glad that one’s in Lincoln, should the Huskers pull through.

On the other side, I’m pulling for Purdue! In general, Purdue is a school in the Big Ten that I have no real ill-will towards, and I’ve really liked how their team has developed this season. I’d love to see them make it to the Elite 8 - and, dare to dream, to pull off a really incredible upset when they get there!

I like Wisconsin to win against PSU, though I’ve been impressed with PSU’s late-season game play. However, I think the home court advantage (and Sheffield’s experience coaching in these situations) spells victory for Wisconsin. I also agree with Kind of... that coming in with a chance to avenge in the tourney is a better position for the Badgers. I’m hoping I get to watch five sets of absolutely crazy volleyball as someone who is relatively emotionally un-invested in the outcome.

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    Nebraska finds post-season gear!
    (49 votes)
  • 5%
    Georgia Tech in a big upset!
    (3 votes)
52 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How go the Boilermakers?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Purdue rushes toward more Big Ten play!
    (33 votes)
  • 37%
    Ducks derail the Trains!
    (20 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Oh boy.

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Badgers simply can’t be beat this time of year!
    (48 votes)
  • 27%
    PSU gets the better of the Badgers for the second time this year!
    (18 votes)
66 votes total Vote Now