Quick-hit guide to NCAA Tournament opening-round matches

Photo by Jay Sowers

The NCAA Tournament continues on Tuesday with both opening-round matches. Check out the quick-hit guide about what to know for these NCAA Tournament matches before filling out bracket for the Off the Block Bracket Challenge.

USC (18-10, 7-5 MPSF) vs. Lewis (25-5, 13-1 MIVA)
Match vitals: 5 p.m. Tuesday in Long Beach, California
Follow live: Live stats, Live video
How they got here: USC earned the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after winning 11 of its last 14 matches. Lewis won the MIVA regular season championship and swept Loyola in the MIVA Tournament finals to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Season series: First meeting this season
Series history: USC leads 4-3 (Lewis swept last meeting in 2018)
NCAA Tournament titles: USC (1977, 1980, 1988, 1990); Lewis (2003 vacated)
Previous NCAA Tournament appearances: USC (1977, 1979-82, 1985-88, 1990-91, 2009, 2011-12); Lewis (1996-98, 2004, 20012, 2014-15)
NCAA Tournament record: USC (17-10); Lewis (1-6)
Stats to know: This will be the fifth all-time NCAA Tournament meeting between two teams that lost a NCAA Tournament finals in a decisive fifth game during the rally scoring era. Lewis is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since losing to Loyola in a 16-point fifth-game finals overtime in 2015. USC has reached the finals in two of its last three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a five-game loss to UC Irvine in 2009. The Trojans also defeated the Flyers in four games in the 2012 NCAA Tournament semifinals to reach the championship match on their home court. The Trojans are 7-0 all-time against MIVA teams in the NCAA Tournament. Lewis, though, swept USC in its most recent regular season meeting last season. Outside attacker Ryan Coenen had a match-high 20 kills in the victory, including four kills as part of a 34-point overtime in the opening game. The MIVA champion has advanced to at least the NCAA Tournament semifinals for five consecutive years. In addition, Lewis is 10-17 all-time in matches played in California this decade.

Pepperdine (22-6, 9-3 MPSF) vs. Princeton (17-2, 13-1 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. in Long Beach, California
Follow live: Live stats, Live video
How they got here: Pepperdine won the MPSF regular season title and then swept USC in the MPSF Tournament finals to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Princeton earned its first NCAA Tournament victory in program history as it defeated Barton in four games in the play-in match.
Season series: Pepperdine leads 1-0 (four-game victory on Dec. 30)
Series history: Pepperdine leads 6-0
NCAA Tournament titles: Pepperdine (1978, 1985, 1986, 1992, 2005); Princeton (none)
Previous NCAA Tournament appearances: Pepperdine (1976-78, 1983-86, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002-3, 2005, 2007-08); Princeton (1998)
NCAA Tournament record: Pepperdine (16-9); Princeton (1-1)
Stats to know: Pepperdineis 41-4 all-time against EIVA teams and has not lost to an EIVA opponent since 2008. However, that most recent loss was Pepperdine’s last NCAA Tournament match — a four-game loss to Penn State in the 2008 NCAA Tournament finals. Outside attacker David Wieczorek, the back-to-back MPSF Player of the Year, has 29 combined kills on a .568 attack percentage in two career victories against Princeton. The Waves enter this tournament as the de facto No. 3 overall seed. The No. 3 seed has advanced to the NCAA Tournament finals every year since the tournament field expanded in 2014. Princeton’s only other NCAA Tournament appearance before this season was a loss to Pepperdine in the 1998 semifinals. The Tigers in that three-game loss during the side-out era scored a combined 11 points — all of which Princeton recently edited together in this commemorative video.