One person not complaining about the seeding for the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament is UC Santa Barbara coach Rick McLaughlin.
McLaughlin said Monday on The Net Live podcast that despite some fans wanting UC Santa Barbara to be seeded higher he prefers the No. 4 seed because he wants to play to the No. 1 seed USC in the semifinals.
“UC is going to be better and we know that. They have been a great team all year, but this not a politically correct answer, I wanted to play them first,” McLaughlin said. “I think the best chance we have at beating them is try to get them right away again before they have time to work on a lot of stuff.”
UC Santa Barbara (17-14, 11-11 MPSF) upset the top-ranked USC (23-3, 20-2 MPSF) in five games Saturday to win the MPSF Tournament and receive the conference’s automatic bid to the Final Four. The Gauchos defeated three top-five ranked teams in the conference tournament to become the first No. 7 seed to win the MPSF title.
UC Santa Barbara is making its first Final Four appearance in 23 years and is the first MPSF school to receive the lowest seed for the four-team NCAA Tournament.
The EIVA champions Penn State (24-6, 10-0 EIVA) at No. 2 and the MIVA champions Ohio State (24-6, 11-1 MIVA) at No. 3 were seeded ahead of UC Santa Barbara
“We’ve been a Jekyll and Hyde team all year so I have no problems with it,” McLaughlin said.
This is the second time in the last 10 years two West Coast schools have been paired against each other in the NCAA semifinals.
Selection committee chairman Bob Krimmel said Sunday after the brackets were release that the limited field prevents the committee from trying to avoid pairing two teams from the same conference against each other in the semifinals.
“It’s something we can’t consider when you only have four schools that you are sending. There is nothing in the criteria about conferences,” Krimmel said. “It hasn’t happened often but it’s not like it hasn’t happened and it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It is the one of challenges when having a four-team tournament.”
The NCAA Tournament will be Thursday and Saturday at Penn State.
UC Santa Barbara and USC will play their semifinals match at 7 p.m. Thursday. Penn State and Ohio State will play in the other semifinals match at 9 p.m. Thursday.
McLauglin was one of the four head coaches in the NCAA Tournament interviewed Monday on The Net Live. The volleyball podcast that airs every Monday on thevolleyballnetwork.com and is hosted by former U.S. Olympians Reid Priddy and Kevin Barnett.