The No. 1 seeded Wisconsin Badgers (17-0 overall) are set to meet the No. 8 seeded Florida Gators (21-3 overall) in the Elite 8 on Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. CT in Omaha, Neb. Having watched the Badgers all season and just catching some of Florida’s win over Ohio State I can safely say that this match should be a real barn-burner.
In two of their last three NCAA Tournaments, the Gators have had their season ended by a team from the Big Ten and, since the Buckeyes couldn’t do the conference any favors on Sunday night, the Badgers will also be playing for conference pride! (Jk, conference pride is dumb, but fun to argue about)
The SEC played a split schedule this season, with some of their matches taking place in the fall like normal and the rest of the season finishing up in the spring with the rest of the country. While the Gators have three more losses than the Badgers, two of those losses came in the fall portion of the schedule and outside of a sweep at the hands of Kentucky, UF has only lost seven sets in the spring part of their schedule.
Wisconsin should be especially wary of T’ara Ceasar who is averaging 3.87 kills per set this year and Lauren Forte who sports an SEC best .483 hitting percentage.
How to watch/listen
TV: ESPNU, 5:30 p.m. CT
Radio/Satellite: 1310 AM, Jon Arias
Arena: CHI Health Center Convention Center, Omaha, Neb.
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Against BYU, Molly Haggerty recorded a season-high 14 kills to lead all hitters while freshman Devyn Robinson added 11 kills as the Badgers hit .333, more than doubling up the Cougars at .152.
- UW is the only undefeated team left in the nation this season at 17-0, the best opening in program history.
- The Badgers have also won their last 13 sets and, as you may know, have only lost three sets all season.
- This is Wisconsin’s fourth straight appearance in the Elite 8.
- So far in the NCAA Tournament, the Badgers are hitting an impressive .368, which is up .022 from their regular season mark.
- Lauren Barnes has had 10 or more digs in six straight matches, averaging 5.75 digs per set.
- Wisconsin is averaging an impressive 2.17 service aces per set in NCAA play while giving up only 0.50 aces per set.
- Gio Civita has four while Izzy Asburn and Barnes each have three.
- The Badgers have out-blocked their first two Tournament opponents by a total of 20-9. This will be an important stat because the Gators led the SEC in blocks per set (2.80) this year.
- The Gators have two players currently ranked in the Top-10 in the league in blocks per set. Lauren Dooley is first with 1.43 blocks per set and Holly Carlton is ninth with 0.97 blocks per set
- The Badgers have never beaten the Gators in program history, sporting an 0-5 record (including 0-2 in NCAA Tournament matches). However, the teams haven’t met since 2015 so none of that history particularly applies to any of the players.
- It will be important for UW to get off to a quick start as the Gators are 19-0 this season when winning the first set and 2-3 when they lose it.