Nov. 20, 2008
The 2008 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship is set to begin this weekend with 48 teams from across the country competing for the national title, including five from the Big Ten. Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State received first-round byes and will begin action on Nov. 25. Northwestern and Ohio State kickoff on Friday and Saturday, respectively. In the NCAA's latest RPI, the Big Ten houses four of the top 14 teams, tops among all conferences. The Big Ten received four National Player of the Week honors this season which ties with the Big East for most awards of all conferences.
Michigan State, fresh off its second Big Ten Championship title in program history and earning an NCAA automatic bid, will host the winner of Dayton and Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 25. The Spartans went 5-1-0 in conference play this year to win their school's first regular-season crown. Big Ten Player of the Year Doug DeMartin enters the NCAA event with 17 goals and 37 total points, leading the Big Ten in both categories. Conference Coach of the Year Joe Baum pilots the MSU squad in his 32nd year at the helm.
The Big Ten's most storied program Indiana, makes its 33rd overall NCAA appearance and 22nd consecutive. The Hoosiers hold an all-time postseason winning percentage of .753 (70-22-3) and touts seven national titles. With a 5-1-2 record against top 25 teams and a RPI rank of No. 3, Indiana has proven itself as one of the nation's best in 2008. The Hoosiers will take on the winner of Drake versus St. Louis on Tuesday, Nov. 25.
Michigan enters the Championship for the third time in school history and first since 2004. The Wolverines have a wealth of talent with four student-athletes being named first-team All-Big Ten honorees. Michigan is led by the offensive tandem of Mauro Fuzetti and Peri Marosevic. These two have combined for 21 scores this season, piloting the highest scoring offense in the conference. The winner of Denver and UC Davis will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a 2 p.m. ET kickoff on Tuesday, Nov. 25.
Northwestern will host Loyola (Ill.) on Friday for an opening-round match up at 7 p.m. ET. The Wildcats boast the Big Ten's best winning percentage at .737 (13-4-2) and have allowed only 11 goals all season which ties for fourth best in the country.
2007 National Runner-Up Ohio State, looks to repeat last year's magic as they begin play on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET against Oakland.