MINNEAPOLIS — The No. 2-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers (20-8, 15-5 Big Ten) are set to participate in their 27th NCAA Tournament in school history this weekend. The Gophers will host SE Louisiana (25-7, 13-5 Southland) on Friday night at 7 p.m. Central time. Minnesota will play the winner of No. 7 Florida State and Northern Iowa on Saturday night at 7 p.m. if they defeat SEL. All matches will be shown on ESPN+, which is a subscription-only streaming service.
GAME 1 BROADCAST INFORMATION
No. 2 Minnesota vs. SE Louisiana | 7 p.m. CT | ESPN+
Friday, Dec. 2
Broadcasters: Connor O’Neal (Play-By-Play), Meredith Nelson-Uram (Analyst) and Maya Aflakpi (Sideline)
Radio: KFAN+ (96.7FM); Tanner Hoops (PBP)
GAME 2 BROADCAST INFORMATION
Winner of Minnesota/SE Louisiana vs. Winner of Florida State/Northern Iowa | 7 p.m. CT | ESPN+
Saturday, Dec. 3
Broadcasters: Emma Carpenter (Play-By-Play), Meredith Nelson-Uram (Analyst) and Maya Aflakpi (Sideline)
Radio: KFAN+ (96.7FM); Tanner Hoops (PBP)
NUMBERS TO KNOW:
275 — Minnesota head coach Hugh McCutcheon holds a 275-73 (.788) collegiate coaching record and has led Minnesota to two Big Ten Championships, three Final Fours, nine trips to the Sweet 16 and five to the Elite Eight. He joins Mike Hebert (1996-2011; 381-136 (.737)) as the second coach in Minnesota history to win 270 matches. Hebert also led the ‘U’ to three Final Fours.
17 — Times this year Minnesota has tallied over 10 blocks in a match. The Gophers are 13-4 in those matches.
14 — Minnesota’s Taylor Landfair ranks 17th nationally in kills per set at 4.43. She leads the B1G in kills and points (4.99) per set.
15 — Of Minnesota’s 28 regular season matches were versus ranked opponents. The Gophers are 8-7 in those contests.
8 — Minnesota’s rank in both the AVCA poll. It had been six straight weeks ranked at No. 9 before the Gophers moved up one spot this week after two top-10 ranked road wins.
8 — The Gophers are hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the eighth straight year.
8 — Melani Shaffmaster now ranks 8th all-time in Minnesota history with 2,936 career assists.
8 — For the first time in program history, all of the Gophers non-conference opponents made the NCAA Tournament. Baylor, Florida, Oregon, Pepperdine, Stanford, TCU, Texas and Washington State are in.
6 — Of the past eight Big Ten Players of the Year have been Minnesota Golden Gophers. Taylor Landfair (2022) joins Stephanie Samedy (2020, 21), Sam Seliger-Swenson (2018), Sarah Wilhite (2016) and Daly Santana (2015) as award winners under Hugh.
5 — Minnesota ranks 5th nationally with 2.82 blocks per set.
4 — Graduate libero CC McGraw now ranks No. 3 all-time at Minnesota with 1,886 career digs. She passed Dalianliz Rosado (1,870) for the No. 3 spot last weekend at Ohio State. Christine Tan ranks No. 2 in Gophers history with 1,927. CC has played in 130 career games, which despite being a fifth-year doesn’t rank in the top-25 all-time at Minnesota.
2 — Hugh McCutcheon became the second winningest coach in Minnesota history with the Oct. 9 win over Michigan State, his 264th win at the helm of Minnesota.
2 — Minnesota ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in hitting percentage at .260. In Big Ten matches, the ‘U’ is hitting .266, which also comes in at No. 1 in the league.
LAST TIME OUT
• The Gophers had a monumental weekend, taking down No. 8 Ohio State in four sets on Friday and No. 5 Nebraska in a sweep on Saturday. It was the first time Minnesota had taken down top-10 opponents in consecutive games on the road this season.
• Taylor Landfair paced the Gophers with 25 kills and nine digs Friday and 16 kills and five blocks Saturday. Carter Booth paced the defense, garnering 15 blocks, including a game-high eight Saturday at Nebraska.
SCOUTING SE LOUISIANA
• The SE Louisiana Lions (25-7, 13-5 Southland) will be making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history this weekend in Minneapolis. The program won its first Southland Conference Tournament Championship last weekend under fourth-year head coach Jeremy White.
• SE Louisiana delivered its first 20-win season in more than two decades this year. The fourth-year head coach took over a program that finished 2-27 the season before he arrived in Hammond.
• The Lions were led by Kailin Newsome, who tallied 4.17 kills per set this season. Ansley Tullis paces the backcourt with 3.93 digs per set while Hannah Brewer adds 0.99 blocks per set.
HISTORY VERSUS SE LOUISIANA
• This will be the first matchup between the two programs.
TAYLOR LANDFAIR NAMED BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
• For the sixth time in the last eight seasons, Minnesota will have the Big Ten Player of the Year. Redshirt sophomore outside Taylor Landfair comes home with the award after a big time season in which she led the conference in kills (4.43) and points (4.99) per set. Her 26 double-figure kill matches led the league and ranked in the top-five nationally. She also had three matches with 25-or-more kills, a league best.
MINNESOTA’S NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
• Minnesota is making its 27th appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2022. The ‘U’ will have made the tournament in 10/11 seasons under Hugh and 23 of the last 24 overall.
• The Gophers all-time record in NCAA Tournaments is 59-26. Under Hugh McCutcheon, Minnesota is 26-9 in the tournament, including a perfect 17-0 record in first and second round matches. All of those have come at Maturi Pavilion besides the spring of 2021, when they played in the bubble in Omaha, Neb.
• All-time, Minnesota has made the Final Four six times (2003, 2004, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2019), including three times under Hugh McCutcheon. The Gophers made the national title match in 2004, losing in three sets to Stanford.
• As a program, the Gophers have made the Sweet 16 on 19 occasions and the Elite Eight on 10 occasions. Under Hugh McCutcheon, Minnesota has made the Elite Eight five times, posting a 3-2 record thus far.
• Playing at home in the NCAA Tournament, Minnesota is 16-1 under Hugh McCutcheon. The only loss came in the 2018 Sweet 16 to Oregon. Minnesota came into the 2018 NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 overall seed, hosting the first and second rounds in additon to regionals.
• 2008 was the last time that Minnesota made the NCAA Tournament but didn’t at least make the Sweet 16.
FIVE GOPHERS HONORED FOR ALL-BIG TEN AWARDS
• Joining Landfair on the All-Big Ten First Team is junior setter Melani Shaffmaster and freshman middle Carter Booth. Landfair made first team all-league in her freshman spring season but it’s the first All-Big Ten honor for both Shaffmaster and Booth.
• Graduate libero CC McGraw earns her third career All-Big Ten honor, making Second Team All-Big Ten.
• Booth joins fellow freshman Mckenna Wucherer on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
Gopher head coach Hugh McCutcheon spoke with MNN sports director Mike Grimm:
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)