The regular season is over and race for a spot in the NCAA Tournament remains as open as at the start of the season.
With the Selection Sunday less than two weeks away, Off the Block released its latest projected NCAA Tournament bracket on Monday.
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 and the tournament seeding. For an in-depth look at the criteria used by the selection committee, check out this breakdown.
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 3-5 in Los Angeles.
PROJECTED FINAL FOUR
No. 1 seed USC (22-4) vs. No. 4 seed Ohio State (20-8)
No. 2 seed UC Irvine (21-5)* vs. No. 3 seed Penn State (20-5)
Last four out
For the third consecutive week, there is no changes to the four-team tournament field. However, the race for the at-large bid continues to tighten and an early exit for UC Irvine or USC in the MPSF Tournament could result in both teams getting surpassed for the at-large bid. Stanford following its victory against UCLA on Saturday made the biggest jump in the at-large race as the Cardinal moved ahead of the Bruins and closed the gap on the Cougars. Along with the at-large bid, Penn State remains in the No. 3 seed as long as Lewis doesn’t win the MIVA Tournament. Penn State holds the advantage over Ohio State but would drop to the No. 4 seed if Lewis reaches the NCAA Tournament.
IF NCAA TOURNAMENT EXPANDED TO 8 TEAMS
No. 1 seed USC (22-4) vs. No. 8 seed Pfeiffer (19-6)
No. 2 seed UC Irvine (21-5)* vs. No. 7 UCLA (22-7)*
No. 3 seed BYU (23-6)* vs. No. 6 seed Ohio State (20-8)
No. 4 seed Stanford (20-6)* vs. No. 5 seed Penn State (20-5)
Last four out
Long Beach State (15-14)
Pfeiffer could be the first team to clinch a spot in the expanded field as it plays Mount Olive in the Conference Carolinas championship match on Wednesday. The biggest change with this week’s eight-team tournament is Stanford’s rise to the No. 5 seed. Stanford was on the bubble last week. Its victory against UCLA, though, was enough to move it into the tournament and knock Lewis out of the final at-large spot. The Flyers, though, could move back into the tournament if the Bruins lose in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.
*Indicates at-large bid