It’s the last week of the Big Ten volleyball regular season and three teams have a chance at winning a piece of the Big Ten title. With two matches left, let’s map out some of the scenarios — first with the two teams “In the Driver’s Seat” and one who “Needs Some Help”
In the Driver’s Seat:
No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers (T-1st, 15-3 Big Ten record); Next games: at Wisconsin, at Purdue
No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (T-1st, 15-3 Big Ten record); Next games: Nebraska, Indiana
Nebraska took care of business against Penn State on Friday and got a win via forfeit from Rutgers, meaning they have a bit of extra rest. Meanwhile Wisconsin beat Michigan State before outlasting Minnesota in a thrilling, five-set win that set up a huge matchup this Friday at the Field House.
If Wisconsin beats Nebraska, then they take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten (and obviously vice versa, but this is a Wisconsin blog soooo). Earlier this year, the Badgers swept the Huskers in Lincoln and looked quite dominant.
If either of these teams win the rest of their matches, they win the Big Ten title outright. Full stop. After the Huskers, the Badgers will play the Indiana Hoosiers (4-10 Big Ten, 10-20 overall). That’s a much easier test than Nebraska’s next opponent, Purdue. Speaking of…
Need Some Help
No. 6 Purdue Boilermakers (3rd, 14-4 Big Ten record); Next games: Indiana, Nebraska
Purdue has the ability to force their way into the Big Ten title for the first time since the 1980’s, but need Nebraska’s cooperation. Purdue needs to beat Indiana and Nebraska, then hope that Nebraska can beat the Badgers (granted, UW just needs to lose a match but this seems more likely than the Badgers beating Nebraska and then falling flat against the Hoosiers). If that happens, then those three teams will have a piece of the Big Ten pie after Thanksgiving.
Purdue is the hottest team in the country, but they’re on the outside looking in for the moment.
Good Luck Next Year!
No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes (T-4th, 13-5 Big Ten record); Next games: at Rutgers, at Maryland
No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers (T-4th, 13-5 Big Ten record); Next games: at Penn State, at Maryland
No. 15 Penn State Nittany Lions (6th, 12-6 Big Ten record); Next games: Minnesota, Iowa
Hypothetically, Ohio State and Minnesota’s records would allow them to share the conference title. There are two games left and they are only behind by two losses. However, since it’s basically a three-way triangle of death between Nebraska, Wisconsin and Purdue in the final week, there is no way that all three of those teams can reach five losses.
I have Penn State listed here because I need to get something off my chest.
In the second set of their recent match against Nebraska, the Nittany Lions had a 22-15 lead and all the momentum on their side. So Nebraska’s head coach John Cook called timeout to try and help his team.
Suddenly, the Huskers respond and began to mount a comeback. They chip away the lead to 22-19 and got the home crowd back on their side and loud. After seeing how Nebraska got a big lead and energy back, you’d think a national title winning coach who has been at the helm of Penn State for 43 years — like say, their head coach Russ Rose — would call timeout.
Nope, he just sat on the bench with his arms crossed as the Huskers stormed back on an 8-1 run to tie the set and eventually win it 25-23. HE HAD BOTH HIS TIMEOUTS! THIS WAS AFTER PSU HAD LOST THE FIRST SET 25-14.
Believe it or not, the Nittany Lions were swept after that, and they were out of the Big Ten title race. But hey, I’m not a national title winning coach, I’m just a sucker who blogs about volleyball and was thinking as soon as the Huskers chopped the lead to five that “y’all need a timeout.”
Also, Minnesota could have been in the “Needs Help” category but they couldn’t stop the overpowering and wonderful Wisconsin Badgers for a set point. Sorry Gophers, especially since you won’t be getting the Axe anyways.