The state of Minnesota will become Loper country. The Nebraska-Kearney football, volleyball and men’s & women’s basketball teams will all be in Minnesota this weekend and three of those teams will face Minnesota-Duluth in three different Minnesota cities in three different days.
First, the 7th-ranked volleyball team hopes to make its first Elite Eight since 2005 when it takes part in the Central Regional in St. Paul on Thursday opening against Minnesota-Duluth. Then on Friday, the men’s basketball team will play the Bulldogs in Mankato apart of the Minnesota State tip-off. The women will also be at that same tournament. Saturday, the football team will take on Minnesota-Duluth on their home field for the second round of the Division II football playoffs. The Bulldogs are the reigning D-II champions.
To reach the national quarterfinals, the volleyball team will have to beat the 15th-ranked Bulldogs, either 13th-ranked SW Minnesota State or 20th-ranked Metro State and, then two-time defending national champion Concordia-St. Paul. The Golden Bears haven’t lost since its 2008 opener, a string of 68 straight matches.
The football Lopers are in their first 2nd round postseason action since the 1980 Kearney State squad hosted Northeastern State in an NAIA playoff game. The UMD Bulldogs have been on a roll of late, winning 25 of its last 26 games.
The Loper men’s basketball team will face Duluth, ranked 8th in the preseason NSIC poll, on Friday (3:00 p.m.) and then the MSU Mavericks on Saturday (8:00 p.m.).