March 25, 2009
All seven Big Ten squads have been awarded bids to the 2008 NCAA Regionals which will take place on Saturday, April 4, with a chance to compete for a berth in the NCAA Championships.
Michigan is coming off its 11th Big Ten Championship in 12 seasons and 17th overall and will be the No. 3 seed in the South Central Region in Fayetteville, Ark. The Wolverines have advanced to the NCAA Championships in each of their last 16 seasons where they have posted a top 10 finish in 15 such appearances, tying for eighth in last year’s event.
Third-seeded Illinois, runner-up in last week’s Big Ten Championships, will compete in the West Region in Seattle, Wash., vying for its first trip to the NCAA Championships. Penn State earned a second seed in this year’s Southeast Region and will head to Raleigh, N.C. where the team hopes to garner its first NCAA Championships berth since 2005, and seventh overall since joining the conference.
Minnesota and Iowa will return to the North Central Region for the second consecutive year as the third and sixth seeds, respectively. The Gophers will hand over hosting duties from last year’s competition to the Hawkeyes, with the event slated to take place in Iowa City, Iowa. Both teams will look to return to the NCAA Championships for the third time in program history.
The Central Region will also feature two Big Ten squads in third-seeded Ohio State and sixth-seeded Michigan State as the Buckeyes prepare to play host in Columbus, Ohio. OSU will compete for its seventh berth in the national championships while the Spartans vie for their second NCAA Championships appearance, and their first since 1988.
Each of the six regionals is made up of three seeded teams that are ranked among the top 18 in the nation. The remaining three spots in each regional are then filled in by the No. 19 to No. 36 squads in the nation.
The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships on April 16-18 in Lincoln, Neb., hosted by the University of Nebraska. In addition, the event winners at the regional championships will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not a part of a qualifying team or the all-around qualifiers.