Seven weeks are down and we are inching closer to November, the last push of the regular season.
Note: It’s impossible to get to every match and every team for the sake of you not getting bored on this page or my fingers falling off from typing, so we try to cut it down a bit.
Minnesota is the class of the Big Ten, but there are still plenty of hurdles
The meeting between Minnesota and Nebraska was among top four teams nationally and for squads that were undefeated in the Big Ten. That meant whoever won would be in sole possession of first through three weeks. And in a league where so many top teams look like they can win the title, it feels like an indication of who the favorite should be moving forward.
That distinction now goes to Minnesota after winning at Nebraska. It actually would have been a bigger deal for Nebraska to win than Minnesota too, since it was in Lincoln and the Gophers would still have a chance at home to win. But now that they did earn that road victory, it’s not just a step up on the competition in terms of conference record, but also in that they’ve played maybe their toughest match already – and one that others will probably lose.
Of course, even with that out of the way the schedule never sleeps in the Big Ten. They’ll host a top-10 Illinois bunch this week, have to play Nebraska at home in a few weeks and have a multitude of road matches that include Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State. As for now though, the Golden Gophers look like the team to beat in the conference.
Kansas might just be the second best team in the Big 12
The Jayhawks were the last team to knock Texas off the top of the Big 12 back in 2016, but this year it appeared to be Baylor’s shot. However, the Bears have been up and down to start, and things have been wide open in regards to finding who the Longhorns’ top contender is.
Sure enough, adding to the Bears’ woes and maybe answering that question came the result from Lawrence on Saturday in which the Jayhawks downed Baylor 3-1. Now, Kansas is undefeated in Big 12 play with a home match against Texas on Wednesday. They’ve been surging of late as some youngsters have progressed and they’ve improved in different areas.
Additionally, Kansas State and Iowa State (due to injuries) have plummeted after promising showings early. Texas Tech has been a nice surprise, and TCU has shown flashes but is very young. Oklahoma and West Virginia have been competitive too, but neither appears to be at the point of Big 12 title contention. So unless Baylor turns it around and gets hot – which they did in 2017 – there may not be another team on Texas’ level.
All that said, Kansas might be the closest to the Longhorns, and with some young contributors pitching in, will be gaining valuable experience towards the future as well as a strong 2018 Big 12 season.
Florida still looks like the class of the SEC, but it won’t be a walk in the park
The Gators are still undefeated in SEC play, but got a pair of home scares this past week that forced them to squeak things out in five sets. It’s an indication of both that last year’s Florida is gone and also that this year there are more competitive teams in the middle of the league.
That creates a more challenging schedule on a night-in, night-out basis. And considering that this Florida team has been good, but not as elite as last year’s National Championship runner-up, the gap is narrowed between competition. The Gators are still the favorite for the league, but the number of potential matches they could lose along the way have gone up.
That said, maybe Kentucky could fall in this category as well, but they still don’t have a ranked victory. Things could very well end up Florida and Kentucky at the top battling it out once again, but it definitely feels like other teams such as Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri will all have a say on who wins the league based on who can trip up who.