Nov. 22, 2010
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Heading into the final weekend of play, Penn State has separated itself and is the lone team atop the standings in the race for the Big Ten Championship. Eyeing their eighth straight conference crown, the Nittany Lions boast a 15-3 Big Ten record, one win better than Illinois, who is second at 14-4. Both Illinois and Penn State are on the road this weekend, as the Illini make trips to Indiana and Purdue, while Penn State visits Iowa and Minnesota. Illinois’ match against Purdue and Penn State’s battles with Iowa and Minnesota will be televised on the Big Ten Network with both still in the running for the Big Ten title.
Where We Rank
Seven Big Ten teams are mentioned in the latest AVCA Division I Coaches Poll, including four that are ranked among the top 25 in the nation. Penn State and Illinois appear in the top 10 this week, with Penn State remaining at No. 7 and Illinois appearing at No. 10. Minnesota jumped four spots from last week to No. 15, while Michigan moved up one spot to No. 20. Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue are among the other squads receiving votes this week.
Up in the RPI
The Big Ten is a national leader in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, as eight conference teams rank among the top 43 in the national rankings. Five Big Ten teams appear in the top 23, the most of any conference in the nation, including three in the top nine. Penn State checks in at No. 3, Illinois appears at No. 4 and Minnesota is No. 9. Purdue is ranked 16th, while Northwestern is rated 23rd, followed by No. 29 Michigan and No. 33 Ohio State. Indiana rounds out the conference squads among the top 50, appearing at No. 43.
Five Teams at 20 Wins; Three More Eye Mark
The Big Ten boasts five squads that have reached the 20-win mark, and three others have a chance to join the club with two matches to play. Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State notched their 20th victories earlier this season, while Indiana (19), Northwestern (18) and Purdue (19) still have opportunities to reach the landmark. Both the Hoosiers and Boilermakers host Illinois and Wisconsin, while Northwestern hosts Michigan and Michigan State this weekend.
This season, each conference squad has recorded at least one victory over a team ranked in the AVCA coaches poll this season. Eight Big Ten teams have at least two wins over a top-25 team, while seven have won three or more matches against ranked opponents. Penn State boasts the conference’s best mark against ranked teams, holding a 7-2 mark against top-25 squads.
Get Your Bracket Ready
With the conclusion of the regular season this weekend, the field of 64 for the NCAA Women’s Division I Volleyball Championship will be revealed during the NCAA Selection Show between 3 and 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday on ESPNews. A year ago, six conference teams were chosen into the field that culminated with Penn State claiming its third straight national championship. This year’s semifinals and finals will take place on Dec. 16 and 18 in Kansas City, Mo.
Three Big Ten volleyball student-athletes were named finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for volleyball. The award is given annually to outstanding seniors who have demonstrated excellence in four areas – community, classroom, character and competition. Illinois’ Laura DeBruler, Minnesota’s Lauren Gibbemeyer and Penn State’s Arielle Wilson are among this year’s finalists. Fans can log on to www.seniorclassaward.com and vote once a day through Nov. 23, as one-third of fans’ votes will be used, along with votes from national media and coaches, to determine this year’s winner, which will be announced during the 2010 NCAA Championship.
Thank you Big Ten Fans
Big Ten fans continue to be some of the most dedicated in the nation with six conference squads ranking among the nation’s top 17 teams in average home attendance this season. Additionally, nine of the top 30 schools in home attendance hail from the Big Ten, and five conference schools average 2,000 or more fans per contest. Wisconsin ranks third nationally with 3,737 fans per contest, followed immediately by Penn State (3,333), while Minnesota (2,987) is sixth with Illinois at No. 12 (2,171) and Purdue at No. 14 (2,039).
Got You Covered
This season, Big Ten women’s volleyball is enjoying extensive television coverage, with 25 matches being broadcast nationally. The Big Ten Network is televising 22 conference volleyball matchups, while ESPN2 will showcase three contests this season. Additionally, the Big Ten Network will stream numerous matches online at www.bigtennetwork.com.
Also, for up to the minute news and notes on Big Ten volleyball, log on to the Big Ten Volleyball Blog at http://www.bigten.org/blog/volleyball/ or follow on Twitter at @BigTenDan.