Big Ten 2023, News.

Purdue 2111

Currently in a five-match winning streak, Purdue are strong candidates to earn one of the bids (Photo: Purdue)

The Big Ten women’s volleyball conference play will come to an end this week, but multiple teams from the division will continue in action after that as they chase the national title in Division I.

With 64 teams in action, the National Championship playoffs will begin on November 30 and will culminate with the Final Four, which will be held in Tampa, Florida, from December 14-17.

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As the Big Ten champions, Nebraska are the only team in the division officially guaranteed in the National Championship, alongside the other 31 conference winners. The 32 remaining spots will be awarded by the Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee and the announcement will be made on Sunday.

The teams’ win records, their results against the top teams in the nation and the star power of their players are some of the factors taken into consideration by the Committee and, as it happens every year, multiple Big Ten programs tend to be selected.

Only teams with a record of .500 or better can be selected and right now, with two more matches to be played, some Big Ten programs stand out as potential options. Let’s take a look at their cases:


The Badgers are not officially in, but they’re virtually guaranteed in the National Championship playoffs and are likely to have a very high seed entering it. Wisconsin are currently ranked third in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll and have appeared in each edition of the event since 2013, taking the title in 2021. Currently with a 24-3 record for the season (15-3 in Big Ten matches), they have one of the best teams in the country and will very likely be in the mix for the title. They play Nebraska and Iowa in the last week of the season.

Penn State

The seven-time national champions Nittany Lions are also very likely to earn one of the spots and continue as the only team in the country to appear in every edition of the National Championship since its inception, in 1981. Penn State are currently in 14th place in the AVCA poll and hold a 19-8 win record for the season (13-5 in Big Ten matches), which includes victories against four ranked teams, one of them against Wisconsin. They will complete their Big Ten schedule against Maryland and Ohio State and could further strengthen their case with a pair of triumphs.


The Boilermakers have the same record as Purdue, entering the final week of Big Ten play with 19 wins and eight losses (13-5 in Big Ten play) and rank right below them, in 16th place, in the AVCA poll. The team also has a strong tradition of National Championship appearances, having missed it just once since 2010. Set to play on the road against Michigan and Michigan State this week and extend their five-match winning streak, Purdue have six wins against ranked teams to show for, including two against Penn State and one against Wisconsin. The star power of freshman Chloe Chicoine, one of the most coveted players in this year’s recruiting class, also makes their case stronger.


The Golden Gophers have 15 wins and 11 losses this season, with 11 victories and seven losses in Big Ten play. They have been inside the AVCA top-25 during the season, but are not right now. Minnesota have appeared in each edition of the National Championship since 2015 and missed just one since 1996. Despite having a difficult start to the season, they have a big win over #6 Oregon to help strengthen their case. Good results against Illinois and Nebraska this week would push them closer to the National Championship.


The Fighting Illini are in a similar position to Minnesota, with a 16-12 record for the season (11-7 in Big Ten action). Because of that, the teams’ encounter on Friday could be critical – they also play Northwestern on Saturday. Illinois missed the National Championship in 2022 and are looking forward to returning and making their seventh appearance in the last ten years. The team had good moments in the season but the fact that they didn't defeat any ranked team could hurt their chances of being selected.