Nilsson's Bulldogs open NCAA regional play today at home when they take on Alcorn State at 11 a.m. The other match will feature Baylor versus Memphis, and the winner of the two-day, four-team affair will draw a step closer to an NCAA championship.
That's Nilsson's goal for his No. 9-ranked squad.
"Any time you're entering a tournament, you're not entering just to win a few matches, and our guys definitely aren't," the fifth-year coach said. "So we're training to win it. Everything that we're doing is geared toward winning two matches this weekend and then making a run in that tournament in Athens.
"We're all going to be upset if we lose."
Rested and healthy
Three weeks ago, MSU hosted the SEC Tournament and was eliminated in the semifinals by Georgia, 4-3. Some of the Bulldogs were banged up or sick, although Nilsson thought they played a "decent match" against Georgia.
No. 1 singles player Artem Ilyushin lost his match that day, and Nilsson said it took the senior a couple of days to get past the disappointment. Ilyushin and his teammates - who are rested and healthy now - have a chance for redemption starting today, but it's a tough field.
No. 25 Baylor is annually one of the better teams - it won a national title in 2004 - and defeated SEC champ Kentucky on the road this season. Memphis is making its first NCAA appearance in program history, while Alcorn State won the SWAC title this year.
"They're going to be fired up," Nilsson said of Alcorn. "It's probably going to be their biggest match for them of the whole year. We have to be ready."