Nov. 12, 2008
The 2008 Big Ten Men's Soccer Championship is set to kickoff this week as all seven conference programs converge on the University of Wisconsin campus. The 18th annual event begins on Thursday, Nov. 13 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 16. This year’s bracket looks to be very competitive as it is loaded with talent. Four Big Ten student-athletes have earned National Player of the Week honors this season, tied for most out of all conferences. Also, four Big Ten squads rank in the RPI’s top-15, most among all conferences.
Top-seeded Michigan State claimed its first ever Big Ten regular season crown with a 5-1-0 record. The Spartans are led by a quartet of offensive talents in Doug DeMartin, Zac Scaffidi, Louis Stephens III and Spencer Thompson. DeMartin pilots MSU as he leads the conference in total points and goals scored with 33 and 15, respectively. Michigan State will square off against the winner of game 1 as it receives a first round bye.
No. 2 Michigan earns its highest seed since the 2003 championship and produced one of the best turnarounds in conference history finishing 4-1-1 after ending last year 0-4-2. Guiding the Wolverines in 2008 has been Mauro Fuzetti, Michael Holody and Peri Marosevic. Holody's defensive prowess combined with Fuzzetti and Marosevic's offensive abilities have compiled the Big Ten's best goal differential at plus-18. Michigan is set to face No. 7 Wisconsin in the opening round on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. CT.
Indiana garners the No. 3 seed in this year's event, having earned one of the top three slots in every single championship since the competition's inception in 1991. The Hoosiers have compiled a 4-0-2 mark against top 25 teams. Facing the Cream and Crimson will be No. 6 Ohio State in a rematch of last year's title game. This game will commence at 1:00 p.m. CT on Thursday afternoon.
No. 4 Northwestern will battle No. 5 Penn State in one of the more intriguing matchups of the championship. The Wildcats have been consistently ranked in the top-10 nationally all season long, allowing only nine scores in 17 games. Penn State recently limited No. 2 Akron, one of the nation's most high-powered offenses, to a single goal in a recent 1-1 tie. The Nittany Lions also shut out then No. 17 Indiana, claiming a 1-0 victory on Nov 1. These two teams will meet on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. CT in the first game of the championship.