With three weeks left in the regular season, four teams are within striking distance of a Big Ten Conference championship.
Any way you look at it, the Big Ten title is up for grabs after Ohio State upset WIsconsin over the weekend.
“I think it puts everybody kind of in a group now,” Nebraska coach John Cook said. “Wisconsin was kind of separated. Now they’re kind of back in the group. It’s all going to shake out in the next few weeks. There are some huge matches coming up.”
No. 5 Minnesota and No. 7 Wisconsin are tied for the conference lead at 13-1. No. 6 Nebraska and No. 8 Penn State are just one win back at 12-2 while No. 23 Michigan is 10-4.
Nebraska, 20-3 overall, starts its stretch run with Michigan State (5-9, 14-10) Wednesday in East Lansing, then hosts Iowa on Saturday. The next week, the Huskers go on the road at Minnesota on Nov. 22 and at Wisconsin on Nov. 24.
Nebraska then ends its regular season at home against Maryland and Ohio State.
“There will be some great matches here in the next three weeks,” Cook said. “If you look where the top four or five teams are right now, everybody is playing everybody down the stretch.
“And then these other matches for us, Michigan State, Ohio State just knocked off Wisconsin. Iowa we’ll probably have them at full strength Saturday. We have to play Maryland again who has had some really great matches, plus Minnesota and Wisconsin.”
Minnesota’s toughest matches are Michigan and Nebraska at home and a regular season finale at Penn State.
Wisconsin also has that home match against Nebraska and a road test at Penn State.
The Nittany Lions have those two tough matches against Minnesota and Wisconsin, but both are at home.
“So it’s an exciting time,” Cook said. “A lot of big matches happening. I think that’s what you want at the end of the Big Ten. For you to win a championship, that’s hard to do. I’ve told you guys winning the Big Ten is harder than winning a national championship.”
Nebraska has now won four straight matches since a 3-2 loss at Purdue on Oct. 26. A win over then-No. 7 Penn State on Nov. 2 may have been a big confidence builder for the Huskers.
“I think Penn State was an eye opener not only for the fans but for us as a team,” junior Hayley Densberger said. “If we dig down deep, we can do anything. We can play at a really, really high level. It’s just every single night, every single day playing at a consistently high level, we’ll get there.”
The Huskers lead the Big Ten and are fourth nationally in opponent hitting percentage at .135.
Michigan State snapped a six-match losing streak with a 3-2 victory over Northwestern Saturday.
The two teams met Oct. 11 in Lincoln with the Huskers taking at 21-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-22 win.
Cook said there will be one huge key for whoever does end up winning the conference title.
“It’s going to come down to who can win close games, because there are going to be a lot of close games,” Cook said. “Who can be two points better.”