Ball State may have case to get at-large bid to NCAA Tournament

If Ball State can’t win the MIVA Tournament, it may have a case to earn the lone at-large bid to the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament.

An inside look at the criteria used by the NCAA selection committee shows that No. 10 Ball State leads No. 2 UC Irvine and No. 3 Long Beach State in the majority of criteria categories that determine what team receives the at-large bid.


The selection committee uses eight criteria pieces to determine the at-large bid and seeding for the four-team NCAA Tournament field, which will be announced Sunday afternoon. Among the criteria includes various categories such as overall record, non-conference record record against common opponents and record against teams under also being considered for the NCAA Tournament.

Some selection committees in the past have placed a greater emphasis on a certain categories. For instance, the 2010 committee said they placed a greater emphasis on head-to-head results and a team’s record against other teams being considered, while the committee last season said it weighed every category equally.

Ball State (21-5, 9-5 MIVA) solely based on numbers projected to be used by the selection committee leads two of the likely at-large front-runners Long Beach State (23-7, 18-6 MPSF) and UC Irvine (24-7, 18-6 MPSF). The Cardinals finished the regular season on a nation-best 12-match winning streak, and swept its in-state rival IPFW on Saturday to advance to the MIVA Tournament semifinals against Loyola on Wednesday.

It is rare for a non-West Coast team to earn the at-large bid but has happened before.

IPFW in 1994 remains the only non-West Coast to receive the at-large bid in the 43-year history of the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament. In addition, a non-West Coast team has won the men’s volleyball NCAA championship three times since 1970.

There also may be several others obstacles to Ball State earning the at-large bid.


For Ball State to get the at-large bid, it would need help in both MPSF and EIVA conference tournaments — two of the three men’s volleyball conferences that get automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. No. 1 BYU, which based on Off the Block’s latest projects has secured the at-large bid if it loses in its conference tournament, would have to win MPSF Tournament. Penn State would also have to win the EIVA Tournament to improve Ball State’s status in the “record vs. teams qualified or under consideration” criteria category.

Most of all, the Cardinals would need the three-person selection committee to overlook something not factored into the criteria: strength of schedule.

Ball State has played seven matches this season against teams currently ranked in the top 15 national coaches poll. Both UC Irvine and Long Beach State have played more than 20 matches against currently ranked teams.

The postseason continues this week with conference tournament semifinal matches on Wednesday and Thursday before the three conference tournament championship matches Saturday to determine the automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament.

While Ball State is attempting to get its first MIVA title in more than 10 years, UC Irvine will play Long Beach State in the MPSF Tournament semifinals on Thursday in Provo, Utah. The winner of that match will play the winner of the BYU-UCLA semifinal match.

Below is a current look at how Ball State fares head-to-head against UC Irvine and Long Beach State for the at-large bid using the selection committee’s criteria categories. In addition, projected scenarios have been included to show the numbers if Ball State loses in the MIVA Tournament semifinals and Long Beach State or UC Irvine lose to BYU in the MPSF Tournament championship matches.

[Editor’s note: Teams projected to qualify or be under consideration are BYU, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UCLA, Penn State and the MIVA Tournament winner. For the current numbers, Ball Stats has been projected Ball State as the MIVA Tournament winner, but for the other scenarios Lewis, Loyola or Grand Canyon have been projected as the MIVA Tournament winner.]

UC Irvine vs. Ball State (At-large bid current numbers)
Won-lost results:
UC Irvine 23-6; Ball State 21-5. Edge: Ball State
Head-to-head competition: Have not played each other this season. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: UC Irvine 4-0; Ball State 11-0. Edge: Ball State
Home record: UC Irvine 12-3; Ball State 12-2. Edge: Ball State
Road record: UC Irvine 8-3; Ball State 9-3. Edge: Ball State
Record vs. common opponents: UC Irvine 1-0; Ball State 1-0. Edge: Push
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: UC Irvine 6-3; Ball State 1-0. Edge: Ball State
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: Ball State

UC Irvine vs. Ball State (If UC Irvine loses in MPSF finals to BYU and Ball State loses in semifinals)
Won-lost results:
UC Irvine 24-7; Ball State 21-6. Edge: Ball State
Head-to-head competition: Have not played each other this season. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: UC Irvine 4-0; Ball State 11-0. Edge: Ball State
Home record: UC Irvine 12-3; Ball State 12-2. Edge: Ball State
Road record: UC Irvine 8-4; Ball State 9-4. Edge: Ball State
Record vs. common opponents: UC Irvine 1-0; Ball State 1-0. Edge: Push
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: UC Irvine 7-4; Ball State 1-2. Edge: UC Irvine
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: Ball State

Long Beach State vs. Ball State (At-large bid current numbers)
Won-lost results:
Long Beach State 23-7; Ball State 21-5. Edge: Ball State
Head-to-head competition: Have not played each other this season. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: Long Beach State 4-1; Ball State 11-0. Edge: Ball State
Home record: Long Beach State 12-4; Ball State 12-2. Edge: Ball State
Road record: Long Beach State 9-2; Ball State 9-3 Edge: Long Beach State
Record vs. common opponents: Long Beach State 2-0; Ball State 3-2. Edge: Long Beach State
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: Long Beach State 2-5; Ball State 1-0. Edge: Ball State
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: Ball State

Long Beach State vs. Ball State (If Long Beach State loses in MPSF finals to BYU and Ball State loses in semifinals)
Won-lost results:
Long Beach State 24-8; Ball State 21-6. Edge: Ball State
Head-to-head competition: Have not played each other this season. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: Long Beach State 4-1; Ball State 11-0. Edge: Ball State
Home record: Long Beach State 12-4; Ball State 12-2. Edge: Ball State
Road record: Long Beach State 9-3; Ball State 9-4 Edge: Long Beach State
Record vs. common opponents: Long Beach State 2-0; Ball State 3-3. Edge: Long Beach State
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: Long Beach State 3-6; Ball State 1-2. Edge: Push
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: Ball State

3 Replies to “Ball State may have case to get at-large bid to NCAA Tournament”

  1. In the Irvine vs. Ball State breakdown, how can Ball St. have the edge in this category?
    “Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: UC Irvine 6-3; Ball State 1-0. Edge: Ball State”.
    In my opinion, this is clearly an Irvine advantage. While there is no specific strength of schedule category, this “Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration” is masked as one.
    The home record and road record should be a push. There is no significant advantage with only a 1 win/lose difference in both categories, again in my opinion.

  2. I know you went to school there but you are reaching a bit 🙂 Nonetheless, I think the ramblers will make this a moot point tomorrow night. Thanks for working so hard on this great blog!

  3. C’mon folks….Vinnie is just being a midwestern homer. Or maybe David Letterman is helping fund this site!! 😉

    Look, we all know that IPFW’s admission in ’94 was a total sham based on venue. You’d have to be a total homer to see 11-0 non-conference as an “advantage” — that’s a clear case of beating up on sub-par teams! Ball State isn’t going to make it. There would be too much outrage.

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