Gophers volleyball team lands No. 2 seed and a stay at home in NCAA tournament
Before the volleyball season began, the Gophers assembled a list of grand goals: a Big Ten championship, a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament, a berth in the Final Four at Target Center. With the league title already crossed off the to-do list, the Gophers got the seeding they wished for Sunday, when the 64-team tournament field was announced.
The third-ranked Gophers (25-3, 19-1 Big Ten) were named the overall No. 2 seed and will host the first and second rounds this weekend, opening the tournament Friday against Bryant at Maturi Pavilion. South Carolina will play Colorado in the other first-round matchup at the Pavilion. The winners will play a second-round match Saturday, with the victor moving on to the Sweet 16.
Should the Gophers advance, they would host the regional semifinals and finals Dec. 7-8. All matches throughout the tournament will be televised on one of the ESPN networks.
The national semifinals are Dec. 13 at Target Center, with the NCAA championship match on Dec. 15.
In the most recent NCAA Ratings Percentage Index rankings, the Gophers were No. 2, trailing only top-ranked Stanford. That put them in strong position to earn a top-four seed in the tournament, despite last Fridays five-set loss at Penn State. The defeat ended a 19-match win streak and was the first for the Gophers since they fell 3-1 to Stanford on Sept. 9.
Saturday, the Gophers finished the regular season with a sweep at Rutgers to end the Big Ten season with a 19-1 record. They already had clinched the league title, the third in program history, with victories at Maryland and Ohio State on Nov. 16-17.
Their 18 consecutive Big Ten victories broke the program record of 15, established in 2015. The Gophers also won Big Ten titles in 2002 and 2015.
This season, the Gophers are 14-0 at Maturi Pavilion, earning a perfect regular-season record on their home court for the third time in the past four years. They are 59-2 at home since the start of the 2015 season. The Gophers opened the season at Target Center with victories over Florida State and North Carolina.