With the men’s volleyball Final Four less than two months away, Off the Block each week for the rest of the season will release its projected NCAA Tournament bracket.
The men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament is comprised of four teams. Automatic bids are awarded to the winners of the EIVA, MIVA and MPSF conference tournaments, and the NCAA Men’s Volleyball National Committee chooses one team for an at-large bid.
The three-person men’s volleyball committee typically meets following all of the conference tournaments to select the at-large team. While the committee evaluates multiple factors, the 2010 committee chairman Brian Summers said last year that two factors usually carrying the most weight are head-to-head results among the teams in contention and results against common opponents.
The men’s volleyball championship tournament has remained a four-team field since the sport became NCAA sanctioned in 1970.
In recent years, though, there has been a growing possibility of the NCAA Tournament expanding to eight teams. This also might become more likely with the Conference Carolinas qualifying for an automatic bid to the tournament starting in 2014.
As a result of this potential tournament format change, Off the Block will also project this year’s NCAA Tournament if it expanded to eight teams with four automatic conference bids and four at-large bids.
The men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament will take place May 5-7 in University Park, Pa.
Projected Final Four
No. 1 seed USC (16-1) vs. No. 4 seed Penn State (19-5)
No. 2 seed Stanford (14-6)* vs. No. 3 seed Ohio State (17-4)
Last four out
Long Beach State (12-10)
UC Irvine (13-11)
There isn’t any change this week to the Final Four, but the gap between No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 BYU for the one at-large significant closed after the weekend. BYU completed a two-match series sweep against No. 6 Hawai’i, while Stanford lost in five games at home to No. 10 Long Beach State. The Cardinal still has the edge over the Cougars because it won both head-to-head matches. Long Beach State and UCLA both moved into the last four out this week. With its win against Stanford, Long Beach State is 6-5 against teams in contention for the at-large bid — the third best record among teams in contention. UCLA defeated UC Irvine in its lone head-to-head match so far this season and has the fourth fewest overall losses in the MPSF.
If the NCAA Tournament expanded to 8 teams
No. 1 seed USC (15-1) vs. No. 8 seed Lees-McRae (15-8)
No. 2 seed Stanford (15-6)* vs. No. 7 seed Long Beach State (12-10)*
No. 3 seed BYU (16-7)* vs. No. 6 seed UCLA (15-9)*
No. 4 seed Ohio State (17-4) vs. No. 5 seed Penn State (19-5)
Last four out
UC Irvine (13-11)
UC Santa Barbara (12-10)
UCLA and Long Beach State move into the final two at-large spots after both teams picked up signature victories this weekend. This jump in the at-large rankings was also aided with Hawai’i losing both matches at BYU. Ohio State dropped a spot to No. 4 in the tournament seeding following its two non-conference losses last week, including a bad loss against unranked UC San Diego. Lees-McRae is one match out of first place in the Conference Carolinas and has won seven of its last eight matches, including an upset victory against Ball State on Sunday. Loyola and UC Santa Barbara both slid in the race for the at-large bids. It’s nothing they did wrong, it is a more a result of UCLA and Long Beach State picking up signature wins.
*Indicates at-large bid