Bracketology: Off the Block’s latest NCAA Tournament projections

One day before Selection Sunday and the latest NCAA Tournament projections are out.

Off the Block each week throughout the rest of the regular season and during the postseason has unveiled its latest detailed projections to the NCAA Tournament.

The men’s volleyball Division I-II NCAA Tournament is comprised of seven teams. Automatic bids are awarded to the winners of the Big West, ConfCarolinas, 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. The field for the NCAA Tournament is scheduled to be released Sunday.

The NCAA Tournament will begin with a play-in match and then two first-round matches. The top-two seeds will receive byes to the semifinals and will play the winners from the first round.

Off the Block is in its ninth season of providing college men’s volleyball bracketology.

PROJECTED NCAA TOURNAMENT FIELD


FIRST-FOUR TEAMS OUT
UC Irvine (18-11)
UC Santa Barbara (18-10)
UCLA (19-9)
Loyola (21-7)

Quick breakdown: Long Beach State, Hawai’i and Pepperdine are all locks to make the NCAA Tournament. The 49ers and Rainbow Warriors will meet in the Big West Tournament finals with the winner earning the conference’s automatic bid and the loser getting the first at-large bid. Pepperdine will get the other at-large bid if it loses in the MPSF Tournament finals. However, a Pepperdine win and this will be a tight race between USC, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara for the final at-large bid. Off the Block is projecting USC to receive the at-large bid largely based on its record in selection criteria category of teams under NCAA Tournament consideration and holding the edge in several other categories. However, the team’s 1-8 road record along with a slightly lower RPI and strength of schedule could hinder the Trojans on Selection Sunday. Pepperdine and USC are projected to meet in the play-in match with the winner being awarded the de facto No. 3 seed for the tournament. The NCAA traditionally schedules a play-in match between two teams, excluding the top two seeds, that located within 400 miles of each other to reduce travel costs. A road team traveling more than 400 miles has the option to fly instead of drive to their match site, according the NCAA travel policy. Barton along the winner of the EIVA Tournament finals between Princeton and Penn State will be the lowest two seeds in the tournament field. Barton and those two EIVA schools, though, are separated by more than 400 miles.