It’s the biggest week of March Madness for men’s basketball but men’s volleyball is in the doldrums tonight.
With most teams having a full or partial bye week, four of the top 10 teams are in action tonight and there is one match between two ranked teams in the media poll. However, tonight also features several intriguing individual match-ups as some of the blockers in the nation will go up against the best offensive players in the nation.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.
[Editor’s Note: All match start times are local times]
No. 6 Long Beach State (10-8, 8-5 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Hawai’i (10-9, 8-6 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Long Beach radio feed, Hawai’i radio feed,
What to know: There is a half-match difference between Hawai’i and Long Beach State in the MPSF standings, but both teams have been going in opposite directions in recent weeks. Long Beach State is 2-3 in its last five games with two conferences losses and a loss to unranked Lewis. Hawai’i went undefeated in its four-match home stand and has a winning record for the first time this season. However, the Warriors are 2-4 on the road — the worst road record for any top 10 ranked team. This match will also feature one of the best offensive and defensive players in the MPSF. Hawai’i outside attacker Jonas Umlauft is leading the nation with a 5.35 kills per game average, and Long Beach State middle attacker Antwain Aguillard is third in the MPSF with a 1.19 blocks per game average.
2. No. 9 Penn State (15-5, 7-0 EIVA) vs. Ball State (11-7, 3-4 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: Ball State was one of the last three teams to beat Penn State at home, but that win came in January 2006. The Nittany Lions since that loss are on a 10-match winning streak against the Cardinals, including a four-game victory in January. This also will be Penn State’s first match since going 1-2 on its West Coast road trip that included a victory against then-No. 6 UC Santa Barbara. Ball State is leading the nation with a 3.10 blocks per game average, and middle attacker Anders Nelson, who was not even a preseason all-conference selection, is leading the MIVA with a 1.43 blocks per game average.
3. No. 2 BYU (13-6, 9-5 MPSF) vs. Cal State Northridge (5-15, 3-10 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Northridge, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker,
What to know: BYU could not have asked for a better match-up coming off of a bye week and after losing two five-game matches to No. 1 USC. The Cougars and their conference-best 210 blocks will open a two-match series against the Matadors and their conference-worst .228 attack percentage. Prior to its matches against USC, BYU had won nine of its last 10 conference matches. Cal State Northridge has lost six consecutive MPSF matches but won a non-conference match against Harvard last week. This will also be the first time the two teams have played each other since Cal State Northridge defeated BYU in the 2010 MPSF Tournament semifinals to secure the at-large bid for the Final Four.
4. Loyola (13-5) vs. George Mason (12-6, 6-1 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: Loyola’s only home loss this season was against No. 3 Stanford and its 11-1 home record is the second best in the nation. Alumni Gym is also one of the most difficult environments for opposing teams because of the venue’s dim lights, low ceilings that are in play and fans that are on top of the court. George Mason has lost three of its last four matches and is 1-4 against MIVA teams this season.
5. Pacific (7-14, 3-12 MPSF) vs. NYU (12-6, 2-3 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Stockton, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: The most intriguing aspect of this match could be the play of NYU middle attacker Fran Hodgson. Hodgson is in the nation’s top five with a .455 attack percentage and a 1.34 blocks per game average. However, the Violets have not played a team in the top 15 coaches poll, and its toughest opponent so far this season was Rutgers-Newark. Pacific enters this match after losing two matches against Hawai’i last week but is 3-1 in non-conference play this season.