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NCAA tournament preview

What: First- and second-round action.

Where: Maturi Sports Pavilion, U of M campus.

When: First-round matches on Friday, and second-round match Saturday at 8 p.m.

At stake: The team that emerges from the four-team pod advances to the Sweet 16.

Minnesota pod: Friday schedule

Northern Iowa vs. Louisville, 4:30 p.m.

No. 7 Gophers vs. North Dakota, 7 p.m. (TV: BTN Plus)

Gophers outlook

Friday vs. North Dakota: The Gophers (26-5) are matching up with North Dakota (30-7) for the third time in two years, after the Gophers beat the Fighting Hawks in four sets in September 2016 and in three sets in last season’s first round of the NCAA tournament. The Gophers have three All-Big Ten selections in Alexis Hart, Stephanie Samedy and Samantha Seliger-Swenson. The Fighting Hawks have never won against the Gophers in four meetings. Mia Tabberson was a former setter with the Gophers in coach Hugh McCutcheon’s first season in 2012 and is now an assistant coach at North Dakota.

– McCutcheon on the postseason atmosphere.

Saturday outlook: Northern Iowa (26-8) takes on Louisville (24-6) on Friday, and the winner of that match will face the Gophers-North Dakota winner at 8 p.m. (the match time was originally 6 p.m., but it was moved back an hour so it could be televised on Big Ten Network). Louisville, whom the Gophers beat 3-1 earlier in the season, sports the ACC Setter of the Year in Wilma Rivera and Defensive Player of the Year in Molly Sauer. Northern Iowa has three players with 400 or more kills this season: Piper Thomas with 495, Karlie Taylor with 475 and Bri Weber with 406.

After this weekend

Regionals take place Dec. 8 and 9 at four to-be-determined campus sites. The highest seeds remaining have the opportunity to host. If No. 2 Florida and Minnesota both advance, the Gophers would travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the regional. The four regional winners then advance to the national semifinals.

MEGAN RYAN