The Minnesota Golden Gophers volleyball team released their 2019 schedule on Thursday, and it once again combines a very tough non-conference schedule with the always tough Big Ten schedule. Minnesota will once again have one of the toughest schedules in the nation to try and prepare them to make a run through the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Minnesota will play 28 total matches against 22 total teams. Out of those 22, 11 qualified for the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota will play eight non-conference games with only three at home at Maturi Pavillion. The Gophers will once again start off the season with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. while Target Center hosted the event a year ago, this year it will be back on ACC turf hosted by North Carolina. The Gophers will play the host Tar Heels on August 30 and then will face Florida State on August 31st. Minnesota then plays another tough road game the following week heading to Austin for a match against the Texas Longhorns on September 4th.
The Gophers will open the newly updated and air conditioned Maturi Pavillion with a huge match against the Florida Gators on September 7th. The next weekend Minnesota hits the road again to Penn State—but not to face the Nittany Lions. Penn State will host the Big Ten/Pac12 Challenge this fall which will see Minnesota take on the defending NCAA Champion Stanford Cardinal, and the team that ended the Gophers season a year ago the Oregon Ducks. The Gophers will look for revenge against the teams that accounted for three of Minnesota’s four losses in 2018.
Then Minnesota begins the epic slog that is the Big Ten schedule. The schedule sets up will for Minnesota to defend it’s 2018 Big Ten Championship. The Gophers will only face two of the conference’s other top teams once each. Minnesota play host to NCAA runner up Nebraska, while they only go to Penn State. Additionally the Gophers will only play Michigan State and Maryland once, both on the road, and Indiana just once at home.
The Gophers will face two additional top tier teams twice with both Illinois and Wisconsin both coming to the Pav and Minnesota returning to Madison and Champaign. In fact the Gophers will play the Illini and Badgers in back to back matches on the road in October.
Minnesota will have one four game homestand near the end of the regular season when they host Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska and Iowa to end the home season. They close out the Big Ten schedule on a trip out east playing at Rutgers and Penn State.
Unlike a season ago where Minnesota could have played their way at home the entire NCAA Tournament with the Final Four being hosted at the Target Center, that obviously won’t be an option in 2019. This year the NCAA Final Four will be in Pittsburgh, PA. Hopefully, the Gophers will be there as well.