The Minnesota Golden Gophers volleyball team released their 2018 schedule on Wednesday morning, and once again it will be one of the toughest in the nation. Minnesota will start the season where it hopes to end it. The Gophers will host the Wisconsin Badgers, North Carolina Tar Heels and Florida State Seminoles in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at the Target Center on August 24 and 25. This will be a warm up for the big event when Target Center hosts the 2018 NCAA Volleyball Final Four December 13-15.
The Gophers will host two additional home tournaments at the Pav in the non-conference portion of the schedule. The annual Diet Coke Classic will be held August 31st and September 1st with Arkansas, Georgia Southern and North Dakota State all participating in the round-robin tournament. Two weeks later the Minnesota will host the Gopher Fall Classic September 13-15 which will see the Gophers, Kansas State and Green Bay in a round-robin three team weekend.
In between the two tournaments at the Pav the Gophers will get their toughest test of the non-conference season when they head to Palo Alto, California for the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge. The Gophers will play both Stanford and Oregon over the course of the weekend. Stanford was a Final Four participant in 2017 and with only one senior on the roster last season will be one of the favorites to win the NCAA Championship this season.
Of course as we all know by now, the Big Ten schedule will be absolutely brutal once again The Gophers will play the defending NCAA Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Wisconsin Badgers, and Michigan State Spartans all home and away in the Big Ten schedule. All four of those teams along with the Gophers made it to the Sweet 16 last season. Minnesota will get a bit of a break as they will only see Big Ten contenders Illinois and Purdue at the Pav this season along with Iowa while the Gophers will just face Michigan , Ohio State and Rutgers on the road.
The toughest stretch of the season for Minnesota appears to be at the end of October where they will play at Michigan State on Friday October 26th, then at Michigan on Saturday October 27th, then at Wisconsin on Wednesday night October 31st before hosting the Spartans for their return trip Saturday November 3rd.
if the Gophers can have a season of their dreams and end up with one of the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament, they could play their entire postseason in Minneapolis. The First two rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be hosted by the top 16 seeds on November 30 and December 1. The Round of 16 and 8 will be held at the top remaining seed in each region on December 7th and 8th. And the Final Four will be played at Target Center from December 13th-15th.
It could be a fun and historic season for the Gophers...and they appear ready to get it started.
121 days...— Samantha Swenson (@samjoswens) April 25, 2018
The countdown is real. https://t.co/5o66US0zwZ
The full schedule is below: