The four highest seeds in the Madison Regional advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, which will be held at the UW Field House in Wisconsin. Play starts Thursday with No. 5 Baylor vs. No. 12 Minnesota (2 p.m., ESPNU), followed by the host and No. 4 Badgers vs. No. 13 UCLA (4 p.m., ESPNU). Semifinal winners will play the regional final on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPNU).
There will be some familiarity as three of the four teams — Baylor, Minnesota and Wisconsin — played in Madison in the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge in August, when Baylor defeated Minnesota and Wisconsin defeated Baylor.
Wisconsin | 27-3 | Big Ten
The Big Ten regular-season champions were outstanding all season, with eight wins over Top 25 opponents, including two against Minnesota and one against Baylor. They have reached two of the past three Final Fours. Middle blocker Dana Rettke was just named the AVCA Northeast Regional Player of the Year after leading the Big Ten with 1.40 blocks per set while also leading the Badgers in kills with 361. Sydney Hilley was named Big Ten Setter of the Year after leading the country with 12.04 assists per set.
Baylor | 22-5 | Big 12
This is the third straight regional semifinal appearance for the Bears under coach Ryan McGuyre. After starting the season 1-3, they've gone 21-2, including handing No. 2 overall seed Texas its only loss of the season. They bring an athletic, veteran roster to Madison, with Yossiana Pressley leading the way. The 2019 AVCA National Player of the Year and two-time first-team All-America led the Big 12 in kills this season. The team also brings Big 12 Setter of the Year Hannah Sedwick and first-team all-conference selections Avery Skinner and Lauren Harrison.
Minnesota | 21-8 | Big Ten
Minnesota has reached the Final Four in three of the past six seasons — most recently advancing out of the regionals in 2019 when it won two matches in Austin, Texas. Minnesota lost its season opener to Baylor and both matches to Wisconsin in Big Ten play. The Gophers have won 10 of their past 12 matches, losing only to the Badgers and Purdue, and swept through their tournament victories over South Dakota and Stanford without losing a set.
UCLA | 25-5 | Pac-12
The Bruins finished second in the Pac-12, behind Washington, posting a 16-4 record in conference. They needed five sets to oust Central Florida in the second round of the tournament. The team is led by Mac May, who received her second Pac-12 Player of the Year honor this season. She led the team with 541 kills and 44 service aces. Zoe Fleck was named the conference Libero of the Year, and middle blocker Anna Dodson also made the All-Pac-12 team.