After several long months of waiting the Minnesota Golden Gophers volleyball team finally got their long awaited 2021 schedule on Tuesday. Minnesota and the rest of the Big Ten will play a 22-match schedule against 11 conference opponents beginning January 22 through April 3rd before a 48-team NCAA Tournament will kick off April 8th.
The Gophers will begin their season at home in Maturi Pavillion against the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday January 23rd before facing them again the next day on the 24th. The Big Ten is doing for volleyball what several mid-major conferences have done for basketball this season and moved to a similar schedule to college hockey. Minnesota will play ten of their 11 opponents twice in one weekend either at home or on the road. The lone exception is that each team will have one home and home series against an opponent who is closest to them in mileage and can easily be bussed to. Thus, Minnesota will play a home and home series against Wisconsin in mid-March.
The Gophers will play all of their matches on either a Friday, Saturday or Sunday except for the series against Wisconsin where they will play in Madison on Wednesday March 17th and then return home to host the Badgers at the Pav that following Sunday. It will be an 11 week straight schedule, two games a week/weekend with no byes.
It is a mixed bag of a schedule for the Gophers who once again are expected to be one of the Big Ten’s and the nation’s best teams. Minnesota will not play two conference bottom-dwellers in Indiana and Rutgers, and have a fairly even split of home and road series against other top teams. The Gopher will host Penn State the two Michigan schools, Illinois and Iowa while playing Nebraska, Purdue, Ohio State, Maryland, and Northwestern on the road along with the home and home against the Badgers.
Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State and Minnesota are expected to be the four best teams in the conference once again, so to have a 3-3 home/road split against those teams is nice. However some of those schools do have easier schedules. Nebraska will play four of the six games against top opponents at home, and avoids a series against the next toughest team in the conference in Purdue, Wisconsin also has a 3-3 home/road split against the top teams and will miss Ohio State and Maryland on their schedule. Penn State avoids Northwestern and Iowa but has to play at Minnesota and Nebraska and only host Wisconsin of the top four.
Just like all other sports for the U of M as of now no fans will be allowed into the Pav for home games. TV and game times will be announced at a later date. We will have a full preview of the Gopher volleyball team as the season nears. The full Big Ten schedule is below: