Initial look at the NCAA Tournament opening round matches

Photo courtesy of UCLA athletics

The NCAA Tournament continues Tuesday with two more opening round matches.

Check out what to know about these match before filling out your NCAA Tournament bracket.


UCLA (21-4, 11-1 MPSF) vs. Pepperdine (19-9, 7-5 MPSF)
Match vitals:
5 p.m. Tuesday in Los Angeles
Season season series: UCLA leads 2-0
Most recent meeting: UCLA swept Pepperdine in April at Pauley Pavilion.
All-time series: UCLA leads 85-45
Series record in NCAA Tournament: UCLA leads 4-2
How they reached the NCAA Tournament: UCLA won the MPSF regular season championship en route to earning an at-large bid, while Pepperdine won the MPSF Tournament to earn the conference’s automatic bid.
NCAA Tournament championships: UCLA (1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2006); Pepperdine (1978, 1985, 1986, 1992, 2005)
NCAA Tournament record: UCLA (54-9); Pepperdine (18-12)
NCAA Tournament appearances: UCLA (1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2016, 2018, 2022); Pepperdine (1976, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984 1985, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2002, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2019, 2021, 2022)
UCLA player to know: Middle attacker Merrick McHenry, a finalist for the Ryan Millar Award, is second in the nation with a .527 attack percentage, including having a combined 17 kills and a .556 attack percnetage in two regular season wins against Pepperdine.
Pepperdine player to know: Setter Bryce Dvorak guided Pepperdine to at least a .300 attack percentage in two consecutive MPSF Turnament matches and is in the nation’s top 15 with a 0.48 aces per game average.
Stats to know: This is the first time two schools from the same conference will face each other in the NCAA Tournament opening round. It also is the first time UCLA and Pepperdine have met in the NCAA Tournament since the Waves defeated the Bruins in five games in the 2005 finals. The schools will now have met seven times in the NCAA Tournament with this being their first meeting not in the finals. UCLA has never failed to reach the NCAA Tournament finals in years in it qualifies for the NCAA Tournament and the event takes place at Pauley Pavilion. The last time a host school that qualified for the NCAA Tournament lost before the finals was Penn State in 2011. Pepperdine coach David Hunt entered this season wtih career winning record against UCLA. The Waves also are 3-1 at Pauley Pavilion this season with all three of those coming in the postseason en route to the MPSF Tournament championship. The MPSF Tournament champion, though, is 3-4 in its first NCAA Tournament match since the field expanded in 2014.

Hawai’i (24-5, 7-3 Big West) vs. North Greenville (21-5, 12-2 ConfCarolinas)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Los Angeles
Season series: First meeting this season.
Most recent meeting: Never played each other, but they both did compete at the 2018 Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge
All-time series: Tied 0-0
How they reached the NCAA Tournament: Hawai’i swept Long Beach State in the Big West Tournament finals to earn the conference’s automatic bid. North Greenville won the ConfCarolinas Tournament to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and then swept Princeton in the initial NCAA Tournament opening round match on Sunday.
NCAA Tournament championships: Hawai’i (2002, 2021); North Greenville (none)
NCAA Tournament record: Hawai’i (7-6); North Greenville (1-0)
NCAA Tournament appearances: Hawai’i (1995, 1996, 2002, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022); North Greenville (2022)
Hawai’i player to know: Setter Jakob Thelle is a finalist for the Lloy Ball Award and guided the offense to the nation’s fifth-best attack percentage at .340.
North Greenville player to know: Freshman middle attacker Michael de la Cruz, a finalist for the Division II National Player of the Year, had 10 kills on a .529 attack percentage as North Greenville swept Princeton in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
Stats to know: Hawai’i is undefeated all-time against ConfCarolinas schools and has only lost one set in those five matches.In addition, the de facto No. 3 seed has never lost in the opening round since the NCAA Tournament field expanded in 2014. North Greenville at 1-0 enters this match with the best all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage. The last team to win two matches in the opening rounds was Ohio State in 2018.

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