Bracketology: Latest men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament projections

It is simply now bedlam in the college men’s volleyball bracketology because of all the upsets this postseason — making NCAA Tournament projections incredibly difficult.

Off the Block each week during the rest of the regular season and throughout each round of the postseason will unveil its latest projections to the NCAA Tournament.

The men’s volleyball Division I-II NCAA Tournament is comprised of six teams. Automatic bids are awarded to the winners of the Conference Carolinas, EIVA, MIVA and MPSF conference tournaments, and the NCAA men’s volleyball committee selects two teams for at-large bids.

The three-person selection committee meets following all of the conference tournaments to decide the at-large teams and the tournament seeding. For an in-depth look at the criteria used by the selection committee and the Off the Block bracketology projections, check out this breakdown.


The field for the NCAA Tournament is scheduled to be released on Sunday.

The NCAA Tournament will begin with the two play-in matches and the two-top seeds earning byes to the NCAA Tournament semifinals that will played Thursday, May 5 in University Park, Pennsylvania.

Off the Block is in its sixth season of college men’s volleyball bracketology. It has in previous seasons accurately projected 96 percent of the teams in the NCAA Tournament field.


Long Beach State (24-7)
Loyola (20-8)
UC Santa Barbara (22-10)
Ball State (20-9)

Quick breakdown: This is one of the closest race for the final at-large bid in the recent history of the NCAA Tournament. No. 4/5 Long Beach State and No. 5/4 Stanford when compared head-to-head using the NCAA Tournament selection committee criteria each hold advantages in several categories. This race entering the final days before Selection Saturday is too close to call. However, Stanford is now projected to hold the advantage in the historically critical criteria categories of RPI ranking and record versus teams under NCAA Tournament consideration. Long Beach State started the conference tournament semifinals holding an edge in both categories, but its loss to No. 3/3 UCLA and No. 9/10 Penn State getting upset in the EIVA Tournament now gives Stanford the narrow edge. The Cardinal projected lead in the final RPI ranking, though, is slim and could be a few thousandth percentage points. The only thing preventing this uncertain at-large bid race from playing out on Selection Sunday is if No. 12 Lewis upsets No. 2/2 Ohio State in the MIVA Tournament finals. No. 1/1 BYU, Ohio State and UCLA are all projected to make the NCAA Tournament regardless of how they fare in the conference tournament finals. Along with Penn State’s upset loss changing the at-large bid race, it has changed the bottom-third of the bracket. The winner St. Francis and George Mason in the EIVA Tournament finals is likely locked into the No. 6 seed. The only chance it can move up to the No. 5 seed is if Belmont Abbey or Pfeiffer wins the Conference Carolinas Tournament. Both Erskine and Barton hold the edge in the majority of selection committee categories against the two EIVA teams.

3 Replies to “Bracketology: Latest men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament projections”

  1. Vinnie,

    I think you do a great job and promoting collegiate men’s volleyball across the country and your blog gives a lot of insight into many of the inner workings and behind the scenes in the game.

    However, I do have a couple of questions regarding the NCAA Criteria and the Committee selection.

    No doubt if it comes down to Long Beach State vs Stanford, it is a close call, as you said perhaps the closest call in years.

    Question 1 – In one of your previous blogs you listed the criteria of LBSU and Stanford – head to head and after identifying the NCAA Criteria previously in the story, you added in Strength of Schedule as one of the criteria, which it is not.

    Question 2 – In Record Against Teams Outside the Conference, LBSU is 6-1 and Stanford is 2-0 so based on “winning pct” LBSU is 0.857 Stanford is 1.000. But it seems to me that playing 5 more matches outside the conference should be given some credit here. In the criteria Won- Lost Results, LBSU got the nod since it played those same extra 5 matches, so it seems that following the same logic, Stanford choosing NOT to play a full schedule (28 dates, only playing 24) shouldn’t work for them out of conference.

    Question 3 – Head to Head Comparison – Yes, both teams are 1-1 against each other, but in a year where it is a close as this, the tiebreaker went to LBSU based on points which is why LBSU was the 3 seed and Stanford the 4. So it is really a “push” or is it “slight edge LBSU”.

    Question 4 – Record Against Teams Already Qualified or Under Consideration – What determines being “Under Consideration”? What is that criteria? Perhaps how is Lewis, a team in the MIVA finals not under consideration?

    There is no doubt, if the committee has to choose between LBSU and Stanford they will have to split hairs, one team excited they got in, one team feeling they got robbed.

    Most important, your analysis of all of Collegiate Men’s Volleyball is no doubt a labor of love for the sport and the athletes, coaches and fans involved.

    Thank you for the opportunity to write you on this subject.

    1. Andy,

      Thanks so much for the kind words. You raise some very valid points.

      1. For the Stanford vs. Long Beach State series with it being so close, you are correct I added strength of schedule. This was posted after an interview with selection committee chairman Ron Shayka on Friday morning when he said with RPI so close they would look at SOS. SOS based on the NCAA manuel is a criteria the committee can use. However, SOS also accounts for 50 percent of the RPI formula.

      2. You are actually right. For our projects we use simply winning percentage for consistency sake. However, the compete can look at non-conference record a variety of ways. The amount of non-conference matches a team plays was also a question we asked Shayka in our interview we posted on OTB on Friday.

      3. That is a great question on how deep the committee wants to take the head-to-head and factor in tiebreakers. For us using the simple winning percentage it was a push. However, you are correct the committee could very well say LBSU wins that category because of the tiebreaker.

      4. Great question on the teams under consideration. We should not that this part of our breakdown is a projection on what teams will be under consideration. Lewis is No. 13 in the RPI so it is very unlikely they would be among teams under consideration, despite reaching the MIVA finals. It’s a very vague criteria of what is a team are under consideration. So, our projections could differ from the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

      1. Vinnie..

        Like I said you do a great job and promoting collegiate men’s volleyball… no one before and no one now does as good a job as you do. You analysis, reaching out to coaches is awesome.
        I feel fortunate for our guys that we were selected for an at large in no doubt a very close decision.

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