Six Big Ten Softball Teams Bound For Postseason Play
Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin earn NCAA Tournament berths, while Michigan State to play in inaugural NISC tournament
ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference had six of its softball programs selected for postseason play on Sunday night, with five schools — Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin — earning berths in the NCAA Tournament, while Michigan State will compete in the inaugural National Invitational Softball Championships (NISC).
Illinois (37-18) will compete in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time and the second consecutive season. The Fighting Illini will travel to Lexington (Kentucky) Regional this weekend, opening against Marshall at noon (ET) Friday live on ESPN2.
Michigan (41-11-1), the Big Ten runner-up, heads to the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time in program history, having advanced to the NCAA Women’s College World Series on 12 occasions and earning the 2005 national championship. The Wolverines will begin this year’s postseason journey at the Seattle (Washington) Regional on Friday, taking on Fresno State at 9 p.m. (ET) live on ESPN2.
Minnesota (54-3), the Big Ten Champion and two-time defending Big Ten Tournament Champion, makes its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance and fifth in a row. The Golden Gophers will compete in the Tuscaloosa (Alabama) Regional this weekend, opening against Louisiana Tech at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPNU.
Ohio State (35-16), which reached the Big Ten Tournament championship game, earned its ninth NCAA Tournament berth and second in as many seasons. The Buckeyes are bound for the Knoxville (Tennessee) Regional and an opening-round matchup against USC Upstate at 4:30 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPN3.
Wisconsin (33-15) received its fifth NCAA Tournament bid and first since 2014. The Badgers will head to the Eugene (Oregon) Regional and begin their postseason slate against Missouri at 9 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPN.
The 64-team NCAA Tournament field is divided into 16, four-team double-elimination regionals, which begin Thursday. The 16 regional winners advance to best-of-three super regionals (to be played May 25-28 on the campus of the higher-seeded school), with the eight remaining schools competing June 1-7 at the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Michigan State (31-22) will represent the Big Ten in the first edition of the NISC, a 26-team postseason tournament created by Triple Crown Sports, which also operates a similar postseason championship in women’s basketball (the Women’s National Invitation Tournament or WNIT), as well as numerous other events. MSU will compete in Region 3 (hosted by Illinois State University), opening its first postseason appearance since 2004 and the fifth in school history on Tuesday with a matchup against Murray State at 5 p.m. (ET).
The NISC is comprised of six regionals (four with four teams, two with five teams) that are contested at campus sites in a double elimination format. The six advancing schools will compete on the campus of one of the participants in the NISC Championship Round, also double elimination, from May 21-24.