Of the top 11 teams in this week's AVCA coaches' poll, only #7 Hawaii and #10 Washington are not playing at least one ranked team. (The Huskies face Arizona State tonight and Arizona Sunday.)
The weekend's biggest showdowns are in the Bay Area, where #2 Cal and #5 Stanford look for revenge against #6 UCLA and #4 USC. The SoCal schools went 4-0 against the NorCal schools in LA last month, with USC earning two sweeps. My prediction is that USC goes 2-0, Stanford goes 0-2, and Cal beats UCLA leaving both 1-1 for the weekend.
Nebraska rose to #1 after knocking off Illinois; it now heads on the road to face #23 Ohio State and #8 Penn State. I expect Nebraska to win both.
Illinois, now #3, is home against unranked Wisconsin and #15 Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have a lot of losses for a Top 20 team, but that's because they've knocked off some bigger opponents. They could do it again.
#9 Texas hosts #14 Iowa State; in an otherwise weak conference, they are the two leaders. I give the nod to the Longhorns, but only because they're at home.
#11 Purdue could struggle on the road against #22 Michigan; #13 Florida faces a rare weekend of two road matches against ranked teams: #20 Tennessee and #24 Kentucky. One of the Gators' earlier losses this season was to the Volunteers, and that was in Tallahassee. I think Florida will go 1-1.
All season long, San Diego has been one of my favorite under-appreciated teams. Earlier this week, they made me look bad, with losses to #18 Pepperdine and unranked Saint Mary's.
Let the games begin!
|[Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann]|