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Men’s volleyball bracketology

April 4, 2011

With the men’s volleyball Final Four one month away, Off the Block each week for the rest of the season will release its projected NCAA Tournament bracket.

The men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament is comprised of four teams. Automatic bids are awarded to the winners of the EIVA, MIVA and MPSF conference tournaments, and the NCAA Men’s Volleyball National Committee chooses one team for an at-large bid.

The three-person men’s volleyball committee typically meets following all of the conference tournaments to select the at-large team. While the committee evaluates multiple factors, the 2010 committee chairman Brian Summers said last year that two factors usually carrying the most weight are head-to-head results among the teams in contention and results against common opponents.

The men’s volleyball championship tournament has remained a four-team field since the sport became NCAA sanctioned in 1970.

In recent years, though, there has been a growing possibility of the NCAA Tournament expanding to eight teams. This also might become more likely with the Conference Carolinas qualifying for an automatic bid to the tournament starting in 2014.

As a result of this potential tournament format change, Off the Block will also project this year’s NCAA Tournament if it expanded to eight teams with four automatic conference bids and four at-large bids.

The men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament will take place May 5-7 in University Park, Pa.

Projected Final Four

No. 1 seed USC (18-1) vs. No. 4 seed Penn State (20-5)
No. 2 seed Stanford (17-7)* vs. No. 3 seed Ohio State (18-5)

Last four out
BYU (18-7)
UC Irvine (15-11)
Hawai’i (14-11)
UC Santa Barbara (13-11)

Comments
All four of the Final Four teams remain the same from last week, but the gap is now non-existent in two races. Stanford remains ahead of BYU for the one at-large bid because it won both matches between the two teams at the beginning of the year. However they are ahead of the Cougars by the slimmest of margins. With Stanford’s loss to No. 1 USC on Friday, the Cardinal and Cougars have the same amount of losses. As a result, that head-to-head stat will not mean as much if Stanford loses again and finishes the regular season with more losses than BYU. In addition, Penn State and Ohio State are in tight race for the No. 3 seed after the Buckeyes lost three of their last four matches. The two teams will play Sunday and the winner of that match will likely get the No. 3 seed.

If the NCAA Tournament expanded to 8 teams

No. 1 seed USC (18-1) vs. No. 8 seed Mount Olive (19-6)
No. 2 seed Stanford (17-7)* vs. No. 7 seed Hawai’i (14-11)*
No. 3 seed BYU (18-7)* vs. No. 6 seed UC Irvine (15-11)*
No. 4 seed Ohio State (18-5) vs. No. 5 seed Penn State (20-5)

Last four out
UC Santa Barbara (13-11)
UCLA (15-11)
Loyola (17-6)
Long Beach State (12-12)

Comments
Three new teams in this week’s bracketology make the eight-team NCAA Tournament. UC Irvine moves back into the tournament field after getting quality wins last week against UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Hawai’i had two wins this weekend against Cal State Northridge, but primarily moved into the last at-large spot because of UCLA’s bad loss to unranked UC San Diego. Mount Olive is the other new team to move into the tournament field this week as the projected automatic bid from the Conference Carolinas. Mount Olive defeated second-place Lees-McRae in four games Saturday to clinch its second consecutive Conference Carolinas regular season title.

*Indicates at-large bid

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