The end of March madness has the potential to be the most madding.
Two matches between teams ranked in the top 10 are the main features of tonight’s men’s volleyball schedule. Other matches around the nation, though, as provide some intrigue as No. 9 Penn State returns to place where it suffered one of its biggest upsets in program history and Hall of Fame coach Arnie Ball makes his third attempt at a career milestone.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.
1. No. 2 Ohio State (17-3, 10-0 MIVA) vs. No. 5 UC Irvine (12-11, 9-8 MPSF)
Match vitals: 6 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: Two days after both teams had their worst losses of the season, Ohio State and UC Irvine will play each in a non-conference match. In a match that Anteaters’ coach John Speraw called some of the worst volleyball he had seen in years, UC Irvine lost in three games to No. 7 UCLA. The Anteaters in the loss hit less than .200 in two of the three games and finished with a .183 attack percentage — well below their season average. Ohio State lost in four games to UC San Diego to end nation’s longest winning streak at 17 matches. All-American outside attacker Shawn Sangery did not start his fourth consecutive match because of an undisclosed injury and only came in to spot serve against UC San Diego. This will be the second time UC Irvine and Ohio State have played each other this season. The Buckeyes won the first match in five games in February.
2. No. 3 Stanford (15-5, 12-4 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Long Beach State (11-10, 9-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Stanford, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: With six conference matches left on each team’s schedule this match could have signature ramifications on the MPSF standings. Stanford is in second place in the MPSF and defeated Cal State Northridge in five games Friday to extend its conference winning streak to six matches. The Cardinal also need to win three more MPSF matches to be guaranteed a first-round home match in the conference tournament. Long Beach State defeated Pacific in four games Friday to snap its three match MPSF losing streak. The 49ers are in fourth place in the conference but a loss tonight could potential move them into seventh place.
3. No. 9 Penn State (18-5, 8-0 EIVA) vs. Rutgers-Newark (14-7, 4-4 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Newark, N.J.
Follow live: In-match Tweets
What to know: The last time Penn State traveled to Rutgers-Newark, the Scarlet Raiders pulled off one of the biggest upsets in EIVA history defeating the Nittany Lions in five games. If the Scarlet Raiders get another upset tonight it will likely start at the serving line. Rutgers-Newark has two players in the nation’s top 10 for aces per game average and as a team it leads the country averaging 1.83 aces per game. Penn State is undefeated in conference play and could clinch at a share of the EIVA regular season title with a victory tonight.
4. No. 7 UCLA (14-9, 7-8 MPSF) vs. UC San Diego (8-15, 4-12 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in San Diego
Follow live: Live stats, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: When UCLA defeated UC San Diego in its season opener at the Santa Barbara Invitational there were 50 people in attendance — one of the worst attendance for men’s volleyball match this season. UC San Diego has one of the worst home attendance averages in the MPSF, but there will likely be more people in the stands than the last time they played each other. UCLA enters tonight on a six match winning streak and middle attacker Wes Dunlap continues to lead the nation with a .486 attack percentage. Despite being in 11th place in the MPSF standings, the Tritons have pulled off several upsets this season, including beating No. 2 Ohio State on Thursday.
5. IPFW (11-9, 2-6 MIVA) vs. Carthage (19-9, 8-0 MVC)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed
What to know: The third attempt will be IPFW coach Arnie Ball’s best chance at reaching a career milestone. At 499 career wins Ball and IPFW will play a home match against Carthage, a Division III team it defeated earlier this season. This will be the first time the Hall of Fame coach will attempt to reach the milestone against an unranked team. IPFW lost its last two matches, including a conference loss against Loyola on Friday that likely secured the Mastodons being the No. 5 seed in MIVA Tournament.