An unprecedented week of conference tournament upsets ended up hurting Penn State the most.
The NCAA announced Sunday that Long Beach State and UCLA edged out Penn State for the two at-large bids to complete the seven-team NCAA Tournament field.
All three schools entered the conference tournament week as the top three projected seeds for the NCAA Tournament, according to the Off the Block bracketology. However, Long Beach State, Penn State and UCLA as No. 1 seeds all lost their conference tournaments resulting in the schools no longer being eligible for their conference’s automatic bid and their only path to make the NCAA Tournament being the two at-large bids.
The selection committee uses a variety of factors to determine the NCAA Tournament field, including RPI ranking, head-to-head results, strength of schedule, and record against teams under NCAA Tournament consideration.
Penn State won the head-to-head meeting with Long Beach State early in the season, but the Beach ended with the No. 1 RPI ranking and a better strength of schedule. In addition, Penn State had a better RPI than UCLA but lost their head-to-head meeting and had a worse record against teams under NCAA Tournament consideration.
This was the first time in the modern history of the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball postseason that three No. 1 seeds lost their conference tournament.
Penn State at No. 2 becomes the highest rated RPI team to not make the NCAA Tournament since the selection committee started using the RPI in 2015.
Long Beach State despite its conference tournament finals loss to Hawai’i will be the No. 1 seed and receive a bye to the semifinals. In addition, it will play the winner of the opening round match between the No. 4 seed UCLA and the No. 5 seed Pepperdine.
Ball State will be the No. 2 seed and receive the other bye to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The Cardinals win the MIVA Tournament championship on Saturday to end a 20-year conference championship drought.
The NCAA Tournament will open with the play-in match between the ConfCarolinas champion North Greenville and the EIVA champion Princeton. The winner of that match will advance to play the No. 3 seed Hawai’i in the opening round on Tuesday, May 3.
All six NCAA Tournament matches will be played at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus.with the finals taking place Thursday, May 5 and the finals on Saturday, May 7.