Yesterday concluded the first round while simultaneously beginning the second round. We’ve still got 12 second round matches to go on this full slate before we move on to the regionals. Here’s the picks for today.
NCAA Tournament Second Round (Day Two – Saturday):
VM Prediction Record: 31-5 (picked exact number of sets in 20)
- First Round: 27-5 (picked exact number of sets in 17)
- Second Round: 4-0 (picked exact number of sets in 3)
7 p.m. ET – (#10) #10 Kentucky def. (VM#15) Purdue 3-2
- The SEC champs have a tough matchup for the second round against a team who could’ve hosted themselves. This should be a doozy, and Purdue has taken out Penn State, so they’ve got experience knocking off a top-notch team. Overall though, playing at home, the Wildcats and Leah Edmond squeak by the Boilers.
7 p.m. ET – (VM#7) #8 Penn State def. (VM RV) Syracuse 3-1
- The Nittany Lions will have more talent across the board and are playing at home. Syracuse did take a set off of Marquette and Pittsburgh this year though and won two sets against USC, so they’ll be feisty in the match with an older group.
7 p.m. ET – (VM#11) #12 Pittsburgh def. (VM#21) Michigan 3-2
- In another Big Ten-ACC matchup, Pittsburgh will have their hands full with a solid Michigan bunch. After falling in the second round the last two seasons to a Big Ten foe in Penn State, home court advantage finally helps push the experienced and balanced Panthers to the Sweet 16, though Michigan comes close to an upset.
8 p.m. ET – (VM#9) #9 Creighton def. (VM#19) Washington 3-1
- The Bluejays were upended in the second round in a similar spot last season – hosting a team who just missed out on hosting as the nine seed. This time though they have the pin advantage, and it should come down to if they can at least come close to matching Washington’s strong service game.
8 p.m. ET – (VM#3) #3 Illinois def. Louisville 3-0
- The Fighting Illini are looking to go back to the Sweet 16 for the second season – although this time it wouldn’t be as an unseeded squad. Louisville has an older bunch, but Illinois’ physicality should be too much for the Cardinals to handle.
8 p.m. ET – (VM#22) #14 Marquette def. (VM RV) Cincinnati 3-2
- The Golden Eagles get a chance to host against a former Big East foe in Cincinnati with a shot at the Sweet 16 on the line. This may be the best star player vs. star player matchup of the day, with Allie Barber for Marquette against Jordan Thompson for Cincinnati.
8 p.m. ET – (VM#2) #2 Minnesota def. (VM RV) South Carolina 3-0
- The Golden Gophers rolled in the first round and should do more of the same against South Carolina. That said, the Gamecocks should put up a good fight after getting by Colorado in five, but Minnesota is a whole different challenge.
8 p.m. ET – (VM#6) #7 Nebraska def. (VM RV) Missouri 3-1
- The Huskers should have too many pins to win this game and keep putting down points. Missouri has been solid enough to at least keep some sets close and maybe even nab one away, but Nebraska has too much.
9 p.m. ET – (VM#4) #4 BYU def. (VM#25) Utah 3-1
- Earlier this season, BYU took down Utah at home in straight sets and 75-51 in points. This time though, no McKenna Miller, who had 8 kills (.353) and two aces in that match. That should make this a closer match, though the Cougars still should have enough to move on and host the regionals.
9 p.m. ET – (VM#1) #1 Stanford def. Loyola Marymount 3-0
- Back in 2015, these two met in the second round and it actually went Loyola Marymount’s way as Sarah Sponcil and company pulled off a huge upset. This time things should be different and Stanford should be able to dominate across the board and earn the victory.
9 p.m. ET – (VM#14) #16 Washington State def. (VM#16) Tennessee 3-1
- In terms of our VolleyMob rankings, this is the best matchup of the day. It should be a tight in every set, though the more battle tested side is the team that’s hosting, so we project the Cougars to advance.
10 p.m. ET – (VM#13) #11 USC def. San Diego 3-1
- San Diego gets here after upending Cal Poly, but Torrey Van Winden missed that match with injury. They won’t be as fortunate to miss out on elite pins in this one, as USC should be able to move on at home.