Nation-Leading Four Big Ten Teams to Compete in NCAA Regional Play
Dec. 8, 2004
A nation-leading four Big Ten volleyball squads have advanced to the 2004 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Regional Semifinals this weekend, December 10-11, at three different locations. Big Ten champion Penn State, the third-ranked team in the nation, has advanced to the Seattle, Washington Regional, while Wisconsin is set to compete in the Green Bay, Wisconsin Regional. Fourth-ranked Minnesota and No. 7 Ohio State will battle in the Minneapolis, Minnesota Regional on the Golden Gophers' home court.
Of the 16 seeded teams in the NCAA Championship, 14 have advanced. The four Big Ten squads are among the top-15 seeds, with three Conference teams seeded in the top-five. The Nittany Lions earned the second seed overall, followed by No. 4 Minnesota and No. 5 Ohio State. Penn State is one of just four teams (Pacific, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara) to have earned bids to all 24 championships.
As the No. 2 seed, Penn State (29-2, 18-2 Big Ten) will take on No. 13 UCLA on Friday, December 10, at 5 p.m. PT, in Seattle, Washington. The host Washington Huskies, who are ranked No. 5 after competing as the nation's top-ranked team for the second half of the season, plays No. 12 St. Mary's (Calif.) in the 7:30 p.m. match. While there will be no television for the Penn State-UCLA match, the regional final will be televised live on CSTV. The winners of each semifinal match will battle on Saturday at the Bank of America Arena at 7 p.m. The Nittany Lions are currently playing with their highest seed since it was ranked No. 1 in 1999. Penn State reached the National Championship match in three consecutive tournaments, from 1997-1999, and captured the Big Ten's only national title in 1999.
No. 4 seed Minnesota (30-4, 17-3), who is the top-seeded team in the region, will take on Georgia Tech on Friday at 7 p.m. CT. The winner will vie for the Minneapolis Regional title on Saturday at 7 p.m., which will be televised live on CSTV. Georgia Tech upset the No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara in three games in Atlanta, Georgia. The Yellow Jackets defeated Georgia in three games in the first round. Georgia Tech will enter the NCAA Regionals with a 27-6 overall record. Minnesota's matchup with Georgia Tech is a rematch of the second round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament at the Sports Pavilion. In that match, the Golden Gophers won a hard fought four-game second round match to advance to the NCAA Regionals. Minnesota, in its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance, has advanced to the regional semifinals in five of the last six seasons, including the first national semifinal appearance in school history last season.
Prior to the Minnesota match, fifth-seeded Ohio State (29-3, 17-3) will play No. 3 Tennessee at 5 p.m. Ohio State defeated Ohio in three games after sweeping Dayton in the first round of the tournament. The seventh-ranked Buckeyes, who were last in the tournament in 2002, are in their 13th overall NCAA appearance. OSU has now advanced to regional play 10 times and was a participant in the national semifinals in 1991 and 1994. Ohio State's opponent, Tennessee, defeated Texas A&M in four games to advance to Minneapolis. The Lady Vols had defeated Eastern Kentucky in three games in the first round. Tennessee enters regional play with a 32-2 overall record.
NCAA REGIONAL NOTES
This season marked the fifth time in League history the Big Ten has had seven or more teams selected to the NCAA Championship. The League sent a record eight teams to the NCAAs in 1999 and 2002 and boasted seven NCAA participants in 1995 and 2003.
The League is 35-17 (.673) when seven teams participate in the tournament. In addition, the Big Ten is 51-30 (.630) with six participants and 22-15 (.595) when eight teams advance to postseason play.
The Big Ten holds an overall NCAA Championship record of 166-104 (.615), dating back to 1981. The Conference has boasted a combined winning percentage of .600 or higher in 10 of the last 12 years and a .500 or better record in each of the past 13 tournaments.
In NCAA Regional Semifinal action, the Big Ten is 21-28 overall, with a winning percentage of .429.
In NCAA Regional Finals, however, the League is 12-10 for a .545 percentage.
Should Minnesota and Ohio State win their respective regional semifinal matches, the two League teams will square off for the third time this season. Each team has protected its home court this season with 3-1 wins. Saturday night's regional match takes place at Sports Pavilion -- home of the Golden Gophers.
If Minnesota and Ohio State meet in the regional finals, it would mark the 10th time two Conference teams battled angainst each other in the history of the NCAA Championship. Ohio State has been involved in five of the nine matches and holds a 2-3 record. The last time the Buckeyes faced a League foe was against Penn State (L, 0-3) in the 1996 regional semifinal. Minnesota has faced a Big Ten opponent in NCAA action just once, losing to Penn State (L, 0-3) in 1999 regional semifinal.
During the two years in which the Big Ten fielded seven teams, Wisconsin claimed the National Intercollegiate Volleyball Championship (NIVC) in 1995 with a win over CSU-Sacramento and Minnesota earned the school's first-ever national semifinal appearance in 2003, before falling to eventual two-time defending champion USC.
In 1999, Penn State (36-1) became the lone school in the League to win the NCAA Championship.
Of the four remaining Big Ten squads in the NCAA field, all have a .600 winning percentage or better, led by Minnesota in its 10th appearance at 18-9 record (.667), followed closely by Penn State at .662 (43-22) over 23 years. Wisconsin has a 12-year mark of 22-12 (.647), while Ohio State's record of 22-14 (.611) spans 14 years.
Should Penn State (29-2) and Ohio State (29-3) capture wins in their respective regional semifinal matches, the Big Ten would have three teams with 30 or more wins for just the second time in League history. Minnesota is currently 30-4. The only other time three teams won 30 or more games was in 2000 when Wisconsin was 34-3, Minnesota was 31-3 and Penn State was 30-6. Since the Big Ten's official inception of women's volleyball in 1983, at least one team has won 30 games in 16 of the 21 seasons.
The Big Ten has sent six different League teams to the NCAA National Semifinals and has recorded a combined all-time record of 5-7 (.417). Penn State leads all Conference squads with five appearances, while Illinois (1987, 1988) and Ohio State (1991, 1994) have both participated twice. Michigan State (1995), Minnesota (2003) and Wisconsin (2000) have all made the national semifinals once.
In the history of the NCAA Championship, the Big Ten has been represented in the tournament's final match on five occassions - four by Penn State and once by Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions are 1-3 in the championship match, having finished second in 1993, 1997 and 1998, while defeating Stanford for the NCAA title in 1999. Wisconsin fell to Nebraska in the final match of the 2000 season.
BIG TEN SEASON NOTES
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Three Conference Teams Rank Among Top 10
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Record Five Top-10 Meetings Highlight 2004-05 Season
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Michigan State's Erbe Announces Retirement After 24 Total Years