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Previewing Big 12 NCAA Volleyball Regionals
December 06, 2012
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.'s Mechelle Voepel previewed the NCAA volleyball regionals and here's what she had to say about the two involving Big 12 Conference teams.

Friday in Austin, Texas
No. 6 USC vs. Wichita State, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Texas vs. No. 14 Florida, 8 p.m.
Saturday's final: 9 p.m.

The Shockers are the surprise here, having finished third in the Missouri Valley Conference. But they upset No. 11 seed Kansas on the road in the second round to make it to the Sweet 16. Wichita State now must face a powerful USC squad that has won eight of its past nine matches, with the loss being at rival UCLA in the regular-season finale.

Regional host Texas won the Big 12 and Florida took the SEC, both teams losing just once in league play. Texas and Florida met Aug. 31 at a tournament held at Penn State, with the Lornghorns winning 3-0.

Florida has made it to the Final Four seven times -- most recently in 2003 -- but has never won a national championship. Texas also has been to Final Four seven times, most recently in 2010. The Longhorns won the 1988 NCAA title when coached by Mick Haley, who was at Texas for 16 years.

Haley then took a break to lead the U.S. women's national team in the Sydney Olympics and took over at USC in 2001, where he won NCAA titles in 2002 and '03. If seeding holds, he will be facing his former program with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

Friday in Berkeley, Calif.
Michigan vs. Michigan State, 8 p.m.
No. 2 Stanford vs. No. 15 Iowa State, 10 p.m.
Saturday's final: 11:30 p.m.

The teams will be far from home, but the Wolverines-Spartans rivalry should still be fierce. Michigan and Michigan State tied for sixth in the Big Ten at 11-9. But in November, they both beat Nebraska and Minnesota, who tied for second in the league.

Those victories showed they definitely had the ability to win big matches, and they proved that again in the NCAA early rounds, as they won on their respective opponent's home court. The Wolverines beat No. 10 seed Louisville, while the Spartans had the biggest upset of the tournament so far by eliminating No. 7 seed UCLA.

This season, Michigan and Michigan State split their meetings, with each winning on the other's home court. Now, they play on a neutral court for a berth in the Elite Eight.

Stanford, the Pac-12 champion, fills the role of de facto host at this regional, held at rival Cal's Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears lost to North Carolina in the first round.

The Cardinal have more NCAA titles than any other program, but their last came in 2004. Stanford will face an Iowa State squad that is on a 12-match winning streak but had to go the distance to win both its NCAA early-round matches in Ames, Iowa.

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