By: Dane Massey
Ball State Sports Link
After winning a back-and-forth match against Bowling Green to win the Mid-American Conference Championship, Ball State punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament, beginning on Friday, December 3.
The Cardinals will head to Louisville for a first-round meeting with the Michigan Wolverines. The winner of that match will go on to play the winner of the No. 1 seed Louisville Cardinals and the University of Illinois Chicago Flames.
Ball State has come out firing on all cylinders this season, entering the post season with 29-3 record and a .944 winning percentage. On top of that, the Cardinals are riding a 19-game win streak, with their last loss coming against Kent State in September.
“In 2019 we were in the middle of the draw, so it definitely was a lot more anxious to go through all the teams and seeing number one go and then number two go and seeing which teams we were going to get and tonight we were one of the first ones,” junior outside hitter Natalie Risi said.
The Cardinals drew Michigan as their opponents who has made the big dance 14 out of the last 16 seasons. The Wolverines had an up-and-down season finishing the year 18-11 with an 11-9 record in conference play finishing eighth in the Big 10.
Coming off a three-game win streak, the Wolverines have the advantage in strength of schedule, playing 10 ranked opponents compared to Ball State not playing any the entire season. The Cardinals did play three Power Five opponents, going 1-2 with a win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. A team Michigan has beaten twice, taking all three sets in both matches.
The Cardinals currently are 0-3 against the Wolverines all-time. However, if the Cardinals have a chance of beating Michigan for the first time ever, this is truly the year to do so. The Cardinals are riding their best record going in this matchup with the Wolverines by a land slide. Their last meeting was in 2017 in which Michigan beat Ball State three sets to one.
Ball State and Michigan will take the court this Friday, beginning at 4 p.m. Follow along with @bsusportslink for more updates.