The Concordia (St. Paul) Golden Bears are the Division II version of Penn State. The Nittany Lions are the two-time defending D-I champions and have won six titles in eight years under coach Russ Rose.
Concordia? The won seven D-II titles in a row from 2007-13 before that run was stopped last year by Southwest Minnesota State which finished as the national runner-up.
Now those two strong programs are shooting for a spot in another national tournament as are six other teams in the Central Regional which will be held Thursday through Saturday at Concordia's Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul.
The quarterfinal pairings:
Southwest Minnesota State (25-5) vs. Washburn (28-5). noon
Central Missouri (30-4) vs. Wayne State (24-7), 2:30 pm
Central Oklahoma (30-4) vs. Nebraska Kearney (29-6), 5 pm
Concordia (27-4) vs. Southwest Oklahoma State (22-11), 7:30 pm
The Golden Bears, after winning the NSIC regular-season and tournament titles are the No. 1 seed. SW Minnesota State, another NSIC team, is seeded third behind Central Missouri.
The Golden Bears have won 13 consecutive matches and 21 of their past 22.
Two of the nine Big Ten teams in the NCAA tournament play their first-round marches Thursday.
Wisconsin, the No. 6 overall seed, plays Oregon at 7:30 pm in Madison in UW Fieldhouse. ... Badgers finished regular season 24-6, 16-4 in Big Ten, which put them third behind Gophers and Nebraska. ....Led by two all-conference picks, setter Lauren Carlini, named Big Ten's setter of year as junior and 6-4 middle blocker Haleight Nelson ... UW No. 10 in AVCA rankings this week ... have won 12 matches in a row, last loss to Gophers
Oregon Ducks come in 16-13, 10-10 in Pac-12, which puts them in sixth but are 4-1 in last five matches, losing to co-champion Washington ... Sr. Marteen Bettendorf averages a team-high 3.5 kills per set
Iowa and Miami play at 5 p.m. in first match in Madison.
Unseeded Purdue faces SMU in Austin in its first round match at 4:30 p.m. ... No. 17 ranked Boilermakers are 22-9 overall, 13-7 in Big Ten after losing last two matches to Michigan State and Wisconsin to finish fifth in league. Outside hitter Annie Drews leads team with 4.26 kills per set. This is first time Purdue and SMU are meeting.
Mustangs (27-5, 17-3) won American Athletic Conference for first NCAA tournament trip. ... Winner of this match will probably get Texas, No. 3 overall seed, next. Longhorns play Fairfield at 7 p.m. Thursday.