Record-Tying Eight Big Ten Softball Teams Selected For Postseason Play
Big Ten matches conference record with seven NCAA Tournament berths

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference will be well-represented in this year’s softball postseason, with a record-tying eight of its programs earning a spot in either the NCAA or National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) tournaments after the brackets for both events were announced Sunday night.

Highlighting the announcement, seven Big Ten schools were chosen for the NCAA Tournament, tying the conference record for the most bids in a single season (a mark originally set in 2003). Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin all earned NCAA Tournament berths, with Northwestern the No. 9 overall seed.

In addition, the NISC selected Rutgers to represent the Big Ten in this year’s tournament. The Scarlet Knights are one of three Big Ten schools who have competed in the NISC since that event debuted in 2017 (it resumes this season following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Sunday’s announcements tie for the most postseason softball qualifiers (8) the Big Ten has ever fielded, matching the total set in 2019, when the conference had six NCAA Tournament participants and two NISC qualifiers.

Illinois (34-20) will compete in its eighth NCAA Tournament, earning a berth for the fourth time in the past six full season (also 2016, 2017 and 2019). The Fighting Illini will head to the Columbia (Mo.) Regional and begin their postseason slate against Arizona at 4:30 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPN+.

Michigan (36-16) heads to the NCAA Tournament for the 29th time in program history and the 27th consecutive season, having advanced to the NCAA Women’s College World Series on 12 occasions and earning the 2005 national championship. The Wolverines will begin this year’s postseason journey at the Orlando Regional, taking on South Dakota State in a first-round game at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPN+.

Minnesota (26-24-1) secured an NCAA Tournament berth for the ninth consecutive season and the 16th time in program history. The Golden Gophers, who reached the Women’s College World Series in 2019, will start this year’s tournament at the Norman (Okla.) Regional with a first-round contest against Texas A&M at 5 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPN2.

Fresh off winning its first-ever Big Ten Tournament title on Saturday, Nebraska (40-14) will make its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance overall, but first since 2016. The Huskers, who have advanced to the Women’s College World Series seven times and finished in third place in both 1984 and 1987, will head to the Stillwater (Okla.) Regional where they will open against North Texas at 6 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPN+.

Northwestern (40-10), which won its first Big Ten title since 2008, earned a top-16 national seed and the right to host an NCAA regional for the second time in three seasons (also 2019, when the Wildcats were seeded 16th). Carrying its highest national seed since 2007 (when it was the No. 2 overall seed), NU will be competing in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in 10 seasons and the 20th time in program history. The Wildcats will start their postseason run at 4:30 p.m. (ET) by welcoming Oakland to Sharon J. Drysdale Field for a first-round Evanston Regional matchup that will be televised live on ESPN+.

Ohio State (35-15) earned its fifth NCAA Tournament berth in the past six seasons and 12th in program history. The Buckeyes are bound for the Knoxville (Tenn.) Regional and an opening-round matchup against Oregon State at 4 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPNU.

Wisconsin (28-19) returns to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons and the ninth time overall. The Badgers will head to the Gainesville (Fla.) Regional and begin their postseason slate against Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. (ET) Friday live on ESPNU.

The 64-team NCAA Tournament field is divided into 16, four-team double-elimination regionals, which begin Thursday. The 16 regional winners advance to best-of-three super regionals (to be played May 26-29 on the campus of the higher-seeded school), with the eight remaining schools competing June 2-9 (or 10) in the NCAA Women’s College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

Meanwhile, Rutgers (25-28) secured its fourth postseason bid and second in three seasons, having also competed in the NISC in 2019. RU is the No. 7 seed in this year’s 12-team tournament and will face UC San Diego in the opening round of the double-elimination event at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday. The tournament will take place May 20-26, with all games played at TC Colorado Field in Fort Collins, Colorado.