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The scenarios for how Nebraska volleyball can win the Big Ten title, and more notes

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For the second year in a row, Nebraska and Wisconsin will play what will likely end up being the unofficial Big Ten championship match during the final week of the regular season.

The Huskers and Badgers also played during the final week of the conference season last year — Wisconsin won, edging Nebraska by one match in the race for the Big Ten crown.

Of course, almost anything can happen in the Big Ten — the latest example coming just last week when Ohio State went from the league frontrunner to being on the outside looking in after two losses against teams in the bottom part of the standings (Maryland and Indiana).

But Friday’s Nebraska-Wisconsin match pits the No. 1 and No. 2 team in the standings against each other and may decide who wins the Big Ten championship, or at least a share. The 7 p.m. match is on Big Ten Network.

After that, Nebraska hosts Minnesota on Saturday.

Nebraska’s best chance to win a Big Ten title is to beat Wisconsin on Friday in Lincoln. The Badgers play at Ohio State on Saturday.

Nebraska controls its own destiny to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title if it can beat both Wisconsin and Minnesota. To do so, Nebraska will have to end a nine-match losing streak against the Badgers, which includes a sweep in Madison last month.

Wisconsin leads the conference standings at 17-1, Nebraska is second at 16-2 and Ohio State is third at 15-3.

And the Big Ten got a monster final weekend, with all of the matches to determine the Big Ten title being matchups of top-10 teams.

Nebraska is aiming to win the Big Ten title for the first time since 2017. There is no tiebreaker for first place, so there could be co-champions.

Here are the scenarios for Nebraska this weekend to win a Big Ten title:

Champion: Beat Wisconsin and Ohio State, and then have Ohio State beat Wisconsin on Saturday. That puts the Huskers at 18-2 and the Badgers at 17-3.

Co-champions: Nebraska wins both of its matches, and Wisconsin beats Ohio State. Then Nebraska and Wisconsin each finish 18-2.

Co-champions: Nebraska beats Wisconsin but loses to Minnesota. Then Nebraska would be left hoping Ohio State would give the Badgers their third league loss. In that case, Nebraska and Wisconsin each finish 17-3 and share the title.

Texas already wins league title: While the Big Ten champion won’t be decided until Saturday, the Longhorns have already won the Big 12.

It's the sixth straight season Texas has either won the league outright or clinched a share.

Texas has one match left — against West Virginia on Wednesday — but wrapped up the title with a win against Baylor on Saturday. Texas has a 14-1 league record, and Baylor is second at 11-4. There are only two Big 12 teams ranked — No. 1 Texas and No. 17 Baylor.

Former Nebraska player Keonilei Akana, now at Texas, plays a similar defensive specialist role she had with the Huskers. She ranks second on the Longhorns in ace serves with 24. And former Husker Kayla Caffey has started in 13 of the 22 matches and ranks second on the team in hitting percentage (.404).

Large crowds: College volleyball has drawn some large crowds this season when moving special matches into larger arenas. In October Louisville moved its match against Notre Dame from campus downtown to the KFC Yum! Center and had a school-record crowd of 9,058.

Earlier this season, Wisconsin set the NCAA regular-season attendance record with a sold-out crowd of 16,833 at the Kohl Center. And Creighton had 15,797 spectators for its match against Nebraska in September.

Nebraska will still likely lead the NCAA in attendance (averaging 8,185 spectators this season). Wisconsin ranks second (7,913).

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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