With the conference season hitting the home stretch, each game is going to get more important for postseason play. So, each week until the end of the season, NCAA.com will highlight the games to keep an eye on each weekend.
Two national championship favorites have huge road matchups this weekend against top-15 teams and the Big East has a de-facto championship match to highlight the women’s volleyball action this weekend.
Here are the five matchups you won’t want to miss in Week 10.
No. 7 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan, 8 p.m. ET, Friday, Big Ten Network/BTN2Go
The Wisconsin Badgers (14-4, 7-3 Big Ten) had a monumental win in front of a raucous crowd last week against then-No. 5 Nebraska. Now its mettle will be tested once again on the road against a Michigan team that is fighting, like many other teams in the conference, to stay within arms length of first place Minnesota.
The Wolverines (18-3, 7-3) have lost just one game at home this season — to Penn State — and lost only two last year. Wisconsin is loaded with hitters Dana Rettke, Madison Duello and Molly Haggerty. Michigan’s lone All-American last year Carly Skjodt will have to be outstanding to take down the Badgers.
No. 2 Stanford at No. 15 Southern California, 10 p.m. ET, Friday, Pac-12 Network
The Stanford Cardinal (18-1, 10-0 Pac-12) are the runaway favorite in the Pac-12. With a three-game lead in the conference and four straight home games after this weekend, this might be the only chance the Trojans (15-6, 7-3) can gain any ground in the conference.
What else can be said about the Cardinal? The junior class of national player of the year Kathryn Plummer, Jenna Gray, Morgan Hentz and Audriana Fitzmorris will go down as one of the most decorated classes as any class in the history of the college volleyball. For Southern Cal to complete this massive upset, All-American Khalia Lanier and fellow outside Brooke Botkin will need to be nothing short of spectacular.
No. 10 Creighton at No. 18 Marquette, 8 p.m. ET, Friday, FoxSportsGo
Creighton (18-4, 10-0) is undefeated in the Big East and Marquette’s (19-4, 9-1) lone loss in conference was to the Bluejays. This game has everything you want with fast-paced action and a conference championship on the line.
Taryn Kloth and Jaali Winters are one of the best hitting duos in America for Creighton while Marquette is full of talented youth, but are led by junior Allie Barber and redshirt senior Jenna Rosenthal. Both are hitting more than .300. If Marquette wins, the Golden Eagles could be in contention for a national seed.
No. 6 Illinois at No. 9 Nebraska, 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, Big Ten Network/BTN2Go
Another week, another top-10 matchup in the Big Ten. Well, I suppose that’s bound to happen when more than one-third of the league is in the top 10. This week’s edition features an Illinois squad that hopes to continue rolling and a Nebraska team looking for a bounceback with a current three-game losing streak against top-10 teams.
The Fighting Illini (18-3, 8-3) lost to Nebraska earlier this year in Champaign, but that was the same case against Wisconsin and Illinois then went to Madison and knocked off the Badgers. The Cornhuskers (16-5, 7-4) have lost to Penn State, Minnesota and Wisconsin all on the road in the past two weeks. Nebraska’s outsides Mikaela Foecke and Lexi Sun and middle Lauren Stivrins going against Illinois’ setter Jordyn Poulter, outside Jacqueline Quade and middle Ali Bastianelli will be the best entertainment this weekend.
No. 3 Minnesota at No. 12 Michigan, 7 p.m. ET, Saturday, BTNPlus
If you haven’t watched the Minnesota Golden Gophers yet, you absolutely should because there’s something special going on in Minneapolis this year that Hugh McCutcheon’s hoping to ride to the national championship in their city.
Minnesota (16-2, 10-0 Big Ten) is battle tested and has proven its ability to beat great teams on the road with a win at Nebraska. That said, this game in Ann Arbor will be another test for the title contender. The front row of first-team All-American Stephanie Samedy and potential freshman of the year Adanna Rollins lead the Gophers.
Other notable matchups: No. 17 Purdue at No. 4 Penn State (Sat.), No. 16 Oregon at No. 23 Arizona (Sun.), No. 2 Stanford at No. 20 UCLA (Sun.), Kansas at Baylor (Sat.).