Bracketology numbers and notes to know for this weekend

The final big weekend of non-conference play has arrived as Selection Sunday continues to loom in the nearby distance.

With the second half of the season underway, the matches this weekend could have big implications on the bracketology and the selection committee determining the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season.

Check out everything you need to know about the college men’s volleyball bracketology so far this season and for the upcoming matches this weekend.

Selection committee criteria categories

The three-person NCAA men’s volleyball committee uses nine criteria categories to determine the two at-large bid teams and seeding for the entire seven-team NCAA Tournament. The committee has the discretion to decide what categories, if any, will have an greater significance when determining the NCAA Tournament. Below the criteria categories.

— RPI ranking
— Strength of schedule
— Won-lost results
— Head-to-head competition
— Results versus non-conference opponents
— Home and away results
— Results against common opponents
— Results against teams already qualified and other teams under consideration
— Eligibility and availability of student-athletes for NCAA championships.


Conference RPI

Non-conference results are what ultimately determine a conference’s RPI ranking. The ranking is based on a conference’s combined winning percentage against NCAA opponents. Every conference match results in one winner and one loser, which in terms of conference winning percentage means it’s always guaranteed to be at .500. As a result, non-conference results are the greatest influence on a conference’s RPI rankings. Teams also benefit in their RPI ranking if they play in a league with a strong conference RPI because during the conference season they have an increased opportunity to play against teams with winning records and high RPI rankings. Below are the non-conference records for each NCAA Division I-II conference against other NCAA members this season.

Conference Record Winning Pct.
1. Big West 56-22 .718
2. MIVA 49-25 .662
3. MPSF 44-35 .557
4. EIVA 24-40 .375
5. ConfCarolinas 21-43 .328

Strength of schedule

Strength of schedule is one of the criteria categories the selection committee uses to determine the NCAA Tournament field. In addition, a team’s strength of schedule is part of the formula used to determine the RPI rankings. Below are the teams projected to have the best strength of schedule at the end of the season. The projections are based on match results so far this season.

Projected end of season strength of schedule (as of March 8)
1. UC Santa Barbara
2. Lewis
3. Hawai’i
4. Quincy
5. USC
6. BYU
7. UC Irvine
8. Loyola
9. McKendree
10. Concordia-Irvine

Record against teams under consideration

The category of record against other teams under consideration for the NCAA Tournament is a piece of criteria that historically has helped shape the NCAA Tournament field. Below are the records for some notable teams against teams under consideration, according to Off the Block’s latest bracketology projections.

Record vs. under consideration teams
Long Beach State (5-0)
UCLA (5-5)
Hawai’i (2-1)
UC Irvine (6-4)
BYU (5-3)
Loyola (3-2)
Pepperdine (2-3)
Lewis (1-5)
Ohio State (0-4)
George Mason (0-5)
Barton (0-3)

Six is the magic number

No team with more than six losses during the regular season has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to include two at-large bids in 2014.

Top-10 ranked teams with four or fewer losses
No. 1/1 Long Beach State (17-0)
No. 2/2 Hawai’i (11-2)
No. 5/5 BYU (15-4)
No. 6/6 Loyola (15-4)
No. 9/9 Ohio State (13-4)

Top-10 ranked teams with five or more losses
No. 5/5 UCLA (16-5)
No. 3/4 UC Irvine (12-5)
No. 7/7 Pepperdine (10-5)
No. 8/8 Lewis (13-6)
No. 10/10 Ball State (11-8)

Big bracketology matches this weekend

Below are the matches to watch this weekend that could have big implications on the bracketology at the end of the season.

Match Start time Bracketology significance
Hawai’i vs. BYU 7 p.m. Saturday This match checks all the criterial selection committee criteria categories. In addition, a BYU loss would make the team a combined 0-3 against UC Irvine and Hawai’i. That could a significant blow to the Cougars’ at-large bid hopes.
Hawai’i vs. Penn State 7 p.m. Friday Penn State isn’t in first place in the EIVA right now, but it is still more than capable of winning the EIVA Tournament. A EIVA Tournament championship would put the Nittany Lions among the teams under NCAA consideration and make this match result crucial for the Rainbow Warriors at the end of the season.
Loyola vs. Pepperdine 5 p.m. Saturday Loyola opened its West Coast road trip suffering a loss to No. 14 Concordia-Irvine. Another loss would be a serious blow the Ramblers’ chances of a possible at-large bid. Pepperdine also needs a win to remain in contention for an at-large bid.
UCLA vs. George Mason 7 p.m. Saturday UCLA has little margin for error left the rest of the season in order to receive an at-large bid. Plus, a win against George Mason would give an extra advantage for UCLA at the end of the season if the Patriots win the EIVA.
Ball State vs. UC Santa Barbara 7 p.m. Saturday Neither of these teams are getting an at-large bid, but conference RPI matters in the at-large bid race. A Ball State win would help close the gap — not eliminate it — between the No. 1 Big West and the No. 2 MIVA.