Sunderland: 6 can win; Purdue upsets Minnesota, NCAA bids on the line today

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Paul Sunderland says six teams can win the NCAA women’s championship, and Sunderland is never one to not have or hold back his opinion. We caught up Friday night at LSU after he called Florida’s sweep.  But that was before Saturday’s upset in Lafayette, Ind. More on Sunderland in a big.

In the meantime, repeat the mantra: It’s hard to play on the road.

And so it was Saturday night for Minnesota, as the No. 3 Gophers saw their 15-match win streak snapped at No. 15 Purdue. And it was a doozy, especially because Purdue won the first two sets and then had match point nine — NINE! — times before losing the third set 34-32.

The final was 25-22, 25-19, 32-34, 19-25, 15-9. Here’s the Minnesota recap, and here’s the Purdue recap.

It all adds up to what should be an unpredictable December.

Sunderland’s take on the tournament

OK, back to Sunderland. He pegged Minnesota as one of those teams to beat, and who could blame him?

Here’s our interview:

Nashville: volleyball capital of the world

Lipscomb won the Atlantic Sun title and the NCAA bid that goes with it by sweeping Kennesaw State. Here’s the story.

And crosstown Belmont also is in after winning the Ohio Valley Conference by beating the home team, Murray State, in four. Here’s the story of the OVC tourney final.

Seven in a row for Colorado State: The Rams (24-3, 17-0) won the Mountain West with a sweep of Fresno. This is perennially a remarkable program. Here’s the recap of Saturday’s victory.

Also Saturday, No. 8 Hawaii completed a 16-0 Big West Conference season by sweeping UCSB. Going unbeaten in any league is no small thing. Here’s the Hawaii recap.

Big Sunday matchups

I get to see No. 19 Kentucky today at LSU, but the big SEC match is at No. 25 Texas A&M where No. 14 Florida plays the Aggies.

Among the matches worth noting today, No. 11 UCLA plays at No. 23 Arizona and No. 16  Ohio State goes to No. 10 Wisconsin

In the Atlantic 10 final today, Saint Louis plays Dayton with an NCAA bid on the line. Here’s a preview.

Also today, in the MAC final, Northern Illinois plays Ohio with an NCAA bid at stake. Here’s a link to the MAC update.

Among the other leagues deciding bids today:

In the Big South, upstart and No. 7 seed Campbell (the Fighting Camels) play the No. 1 seed, Coastal Carolina. And in the Sun Belt, where Arkansas State can actually lose and still get an NCAA bid, the Redwolves play second=seeded Appalachian State, which they beat twice this month in regular-season play.

Jackson State plays Alabama State for the SWAC title.

Missouri Valley field set

I’m a sucker for the Valley, especially since I went to Southern Illinois. But the Salukis got swept at Missouri State on Saturday, setting up a possible rematch in the MVC semifinals. Here’s link to the Valley story as SIU pursues its first NCAA bid ever. The tournament starts next week.

Cal Lutheran wins DIII

We have our first champion.

Cal Lutheran defeated Wittenberg 3-0 on Saturday to capture the school’s first national championship at the 2015 NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Tournament at Calvin College.

Here’s the NCAA.com recap.

Also Saturday, Southern Idaho won the National Junior College Division I title. Here’s a summary.

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