The No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (25-3 overall, 17-3 Big Ten) start their 2021 NCAA Tournament journey on Friday night at the UW Field House. Their first round opponent is the Colgate Red Raiders (18-9 overall, 13-3 Patriot League) who are the current Patriot League champions.
As one of the top-seeded teams, Wisconsin will host both the first and second round matches at the Field House which should provide a very nice homecourt advantage for the Badgers.
If you are looking for a full preview of the match, please click on the link directly above this as Bremen took a look at Colgate after the bracket was announced. The match isn’t on TV, but is streaming live in ESPN+ (which you have to pay for), but Bremen will be tweeting from the B5Q account if you want to follow along with the action there.
How to watch/listen
First serve: 7 p.m. CT
Streaming: ESPN+ on the ESPN app (this link SHOULD take you right to the volleyball portion of ESPN+, but if it doesn’t, you’ll just have to search for Wisconsin volleyball)
Radio: U100.9 FM, Jon Arias
Live stats: Here!
Arena: UW Field House, Madison, Wis.
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- The Badgers hold a 54-24 (.692) all-time record in the program’s 24 NCAA tournament appearances.
- UW is 26-8 under head coach Kelly Sheffield in eight years in the tournament, advancing to at least the Sweet 16 round of play each season, including three appearances in the Final Four.
- Wisconsin has been a top-four seed in the tournament four other times—No. 1 seed in 2020, No. 4 seed in 2019, No. 3 seed in 2016 and No. 4 seed in 2014.
- The Badgers lead the all-time series with Colgate 3-0. The two squads haven’t played since 2015, however, so this fact isn’t particularly relevant.
- Sydney Hilley was named the Big Ten Setter of the Year, becoming the first three-time honoree.
- Julia Orzoł was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous pick to the All-Freshman team.
- Hilley and Dana Rettke were named first-team All-Big Ten with Rettke becoming just one of two five-time first-team honorees. Lauren Barnes and Devyn Robinson were named to the second team.
- Hilley finished last weekend with 75 assists to bring her career total to 5,849 helpers, breaking the mark of 5,833 assists set by Laura Abbinante (1993-96), who was in attendance at the match to present Hilley with a ball in honor of her record.
- Wisconsin won its third-straight Big Ten Championship, becoming just the third program in conference history to win three straight and the first since 2010. The Badgers have won a total of eight conference titles, which is the second most of any Big Ten school.
- With two wins last weekend, Kelly Sheffield is 501-165 in his career, including 228-53 at Wisconsin. Sheffield has the highest winning percentage in Badger volleyball history at .811 and ranks second in wins, trailing only Pete Waite, who won 305 matches in 14 years.
- Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.289) and while ranking second in four categories, including kills per set (14.62), assists per set (13.43), hitting percentage allowed (.160) and digs allowed (13.06).
- Fifth-year Rettke ranks No. 5 in the nation with an individual hitting percentage of .442. The 6-foot-8 middle blocker also leads the Badgers with 3.48 kills per set.
- Freshman Orzoł ranks second on the team with 3.01 kills per set while Wisconsin has three other hitters that average 2.0-or-more kills per set—Grace Loberg (2.67), Robinson (2.44) and Jade Demps (2.03). Anna Smrek (1.47) also contributes offensively.
- The Badgers have sold out all of their regular-season matches this year and currently rank second nationally in total attendance and average attendance, surpassing 100,000 fans for the second time in program history. Only Wisconsin, Hawaii and Nebraska have drawn more than 100,000 fans in a season.
Potential Wisconsin starters
- Lauren Barnes, 5-foot-6, super senior, libero, No. 1
- Sydney Hilley, 6-foot, super senior, setter, No. 2
- Devyn Robinson, 6-foot-2, sophomore, middle blocker, No. 10
- Anna Smrek, 6-foot-9, freshman, right side, No. 14
- Dana Rettke, 6-foot-8, super senior, middle blocker, No. 16
- Grace Loberg, 6-foot-3, super senior, outside hitter, No. 21
- Julia Orzoł, 6-foot, freshman, outside hitter, No. 22