Seven Big Ten teams are headed to the postseason, tied for the most of any conference in the country. Three teams will host first and second round play this weekend including the number one overall seed, the Penn State Nittany Lions. It has been a grueling schedule for every conference team and now we get a chance to see if the parity of the Big Ten has prepared these squads to make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament.
With the Big Ten Title reclaimed by Penn State this past weekend what remains to be decided in the regular season’s final week is whether or not an eighth Big Ten team is headed to the postseason and which conference members will be hosting the first two rounds of the tournament.
The Big Ten will once again be well represented in the postseason with seven teams having virtually locked up their spots in next month’s NCAA Tournament. With two weeks remaining in the regular season two conference members are fighting for their postseason hopes as Northwestern and Wisconsin both remain in the chase.
The second-ranked Penn State volleyball team, led by Ariel Scott and Deja McClendon, improved to 24-2 overall and 14-1 in the Big Ten with a straight set win over Illinois on Thursday night.
There is little doubt that the Big Ten has the most passionate and largest fan bases of any conference in the nation. Six of the top ten teams nationally in average attendance this season reside in the Big Ten, including four of the top five. Nebraska has the most dedicated fan base in the country with 175 consecutive sell outs of the NU Coliseum, the longest sell-out streak of any women’s collegiate sport.
The difference 48 hours can make is striking. Late Friday night, Nebraska’s Big Ten Title chances seemed distant and the message boards were offering scenario after unlikely scenario for why the No. 4 Huskers had fallen to No. 20 Ohio State in four sets. On Alumni Night in front of more than 60 former Husker players, Nebraska saw their 39-match regular season home winning streak come to an end in part because of a tentative effort by the home team and a season-defining display by the visitors.