Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Five Big Ten teams in NCAA softball field, but only U opens at home

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Sports Updated: May 12, 2014 - 11:14 PM

Well, the Gophers slipped in there. They were seeded No. 16 --  out of 16 seeded teams -- for the NCAA softball tournament, meaning they get to host a four-team regional this weekend.

Friday's schedule at Jane Cowles Stadium:

Auburn (39-17-1) vs. North Dakota St. (35-16), 4 pm

Gophers (41-9) vs. Wis-Green Bay (27-12), 6:30 pm

The most formidable opponent there seems to be Auburn, one of 11 -- that's not a typo -- SEC teams in the tournament. The Big Ten has five, the most since 2009. The Pac-12 also has five.

The U is 33-3 all-time against the Phoenix, their first foe in the double-elimination regional, 19-1 vs. NDSU and 1-1 vs. Auburn.

This is the Gophers ninth NCAA tournament, including last year. This is the second time they have hosted a regional, the other time was in 2002. That year they beat Princeton but lost two two-run games to DePaul.

None of the other five Big Ten teams were seeded, so none are hosts.

Nebraska, the regular-season co-champion with Michigan, seems to have gotten the best draw. The Huskers are in a region with No. 15 seed Missouri in Columbia. This is Nebraska's 22nd NCAA tournament, including 18 in the past 20 years. The Huskers, who open with Kansas, played in the Softball World Series a year ago.

As you have probably figured out by now, the NCAA selection committee, once it seeds 16 teams, tries to group teams in regions geographically as much as possible.

Northwestern is making its 14th NCAA appearance, The Wildcats open against BYU. They are in a regional with No. 12 Washington.

Michigan is making is 22nd NCAA trip and 20th in a row -- the Wolverines have advanced every year since 1995. The blue and maize have appeared in 10 World Series. They play San Diego State first and are in a region in Tempe with No. 9 Arizona St.

Wisconsin has the toughest challenge. The Badgers are in the same region as No. 1 seed Oregon (49-7-1). The Badgers play Albany first. They were in the NCAAs a year ago as well and this is their fifth appearance.

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