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Deeper look at NCAA Tourney selection criteria after conference quarterfinals

April 24, 2011

Stanford and BYU losing in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday may appear to open the door for another team to get the at-large bid, but a deeper look at the NCAA selection committee criteria says otherwise.

Below is the entry from the 2011 NCAA men’s volleyball championship handbook on how the three-person volleyball selection committee determines the at-large team and seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

Automatic qualifiers will be determined by a method selected by each conference
office. The remaining at-large team will be selected using the following criteria (in no
priority order):
– Won-lost results;
– Head-to-head competition;
– Results versus non-conference opponents;
– Home and away results;
– Results against common opponents;
– Results against teams already qualified and other teams under consideration; and
– Eligibility and availability of student-athletes for NCAA championships.

The selection committee does not consider match results against NAIA teams, such as Cal Baptist, Lindenwood and UC Santa Cruz. Only matches against NCAA teams factor in the into the criteria

Some selection committees in the past have placed a greater emphasis on a certain categories. For instance, last year’s committee said they placed a greater emphasis on head-to-head results and a team’s record against other teams being considered. However, there is no requirement that categories be weighed differently.

No. 1 USC (22-2, 20-2 MPSF) will be the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament using the selection committee’s criteria — regardless if each category is equally judged or certain categories have a greater emphasis.

Everything else involving the NCAA Tournament is still undecided.

The volleyball selection committee has historically avoided pairing two MPSF schools against each other in the NCAA semifinals — it has happened once in the last 10 years. In addition, a MPSF school has received every at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in the last 16 years.

Both of these trends have the possibility of being snapped in this year’s tournament if the volleyball committee gives equally weight to each category.

Here is how BYU, Stanford and UC Irvine match up against each other using the selection committee criteria and giving equal weight to each category. Also included is how the two at-large front-runners, BYU and Stanford, match up against Ohio State and Penn State for NCAA Tournament seeding possibilities.

[Editor’s note: BYU and Stanford are the two front-runners for the at-large bid. Teams projected to qualify or be under consideration are USC, Penn State, Ohio State, BYU, Stanford, UC Irvine and Hawai’i]

At-large bid (BYU vs. Stanford)

Won-lost results: BYU 19-8; Stanford 17-8. Edge: BYU
Head-to-head competition: Stanford defeated BYU twice. Edge: Stanford
Non-conference record: BYU 3-1; Stanford 2-0. Edge: Stanford
Home record: BYU 12-1; Stanford 8-4. Edge: BYU
Road record: BYU 6-7; Stanford 7-4. Edge: Stanford
Record vs. common opponents: BYU 19-8; Stanford 17-8. Edge: BYU
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: BYU 4-4; Stanford 5-3. Edge: Stanford
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: STANFORD

At-large bid (UC Irvine vs. BYU)

Won-lost results: UC Irvine 18-10; BYU 19-8. Edge: BYU
Head-to-head competition: BYU defeated UC Irvine twice. Edge: BYU
Non-conference record: UC Irvine 3-2; BYU 3-1. Edge: BYU
Home record: UC Irvine 10-3; BYU 12-1. Edge: BYU
Road record: UC Irvine 7-6; BYU 6-7. Edge: UC Irvine
Record vs. common opponents: UC Irvine 16-9; BYU 18-7. Edge: BYU
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: UC Irvine 5-7; BYU 4-4. Edge: BYU
OVERALL EDGE: BYU

At-large bid (UC Irvine vs. Stanford)

Won-lost results: UC Irvine 18-10; Stanford 17-8. Edge: Stanford
Head-to-head competition: Stanford defeated UC Irvine twice. Edge: Stanford
Non-conference record: UC Irvine 3-2; Stanford 2-0. Edge: Stanford
Home record: UC Irvine 10-3; Stanford 8-4. Edge: UC Irvine
Road record: UC Irvine 7-6; Stanford 7-4. Edge: Stanford
Record vs. common opponent: UC Irvine 16-9; Stanford 15-8. Edge: Stanford
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: STANFORD

Penn State vs. Ohio State

Won-lost results: Penn State 22-6; Ohio State 22-6 Edge: Push
Head-to-head competition: Split two matches in regular season. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: Ohio State 15-5; Penn State 12-6. Advantage: Ohio State
Home record: Ohio State 12-0; Penn State 13-1. Edge: Ohio State
Road record: Penn State 9-5; Ohio State 10-6. Edge: Penn State
Record vs. common opponents: Ohio State 17-2, Penn State 15-2. Edge: Ohio State
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: Ohio State 2-2; Penn State 2-2. Edge: Push
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: OHIO STATE

Ohio State vs. BYU

Won-lost record: Ohio State 22-6; BYU 19-8. Edge: Ohio State
Head-to-head competition: Did not play each other this year. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: Ohio State 15-5; BYU 3-1. Edge: Push
Home record: Ohio State 12-0; BYU 12-1. Edge: Ohio State
Road record: Ohio State 10-6; BYU 6-7. Edge: Ohio State
Results vs. common opponents: Ohio State 5-5; BYU 8-2. Edge: BYU
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: Ohio State 2-2; BYU 4-4. Edge: Push
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: OHIO STATE

Penn State vs. BYU

Won-lost record: Penn State 22-6; BYU 19-8. Edge: Penn State
Head-to-head competition: Did not play each other this year. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: Penn State 12-6; BYU 3-1. Edge: BYU
Home record: Penn State 13-1; BYU 12-1. Edge: Penn State
Road record: Penn State: 9-5; BYU 6-7. Edge: Penn State
Results vs. common opponents: Penn State 5-5; BYU 12-2. Edge: BYU
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: Penn State 2-2; BYU 4-4. Edge: Push
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: PENN STATE

Penn State vs. Stanford

Won-lost results: Penn State 22-6; Stanford 17-8. Edge: Penn State
Head-to-head competition: Did not play each other this year. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: Penn State 12-6; Stanford 2-0. Edge: Stanford
Home record: Penn State 13-1; Stanford 8-4. Edge: Penn State
Road record: Penn State 9-5; Stanford 7-4. Edge: Penn State
Record vs. common opponents: Penn State 5-5; Stanford 10-5. Edge: Stanford
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: Penn State 2-2; Stanford 5-3. Edge: Stanford
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: PUSH

Ohio State vs. Stanford

Won-lost results: Ohio State 22-6; Stanford 17-8. Edge: Ohio State
Head-to-head competition: Did not play each other this year. Edge: Push
Non-conference record: Ohio State 15-5; Stanford 2-0. Edge: Stanford
Home record: Ohio State 12-0; Stanford 8-4. Edge: Ohio State
Road record: Ohio State 16-6; Stanford 7-4. Edge: Ohio State
Results vs. common opponents: Ohio State 5-5; Stanford 9-1. Edge: Stanford
Record vs. teams qualified or under consideration: Ohio State 2-2; Stanford 5-3. Edge: Stanford
Eligibility and availability of athletes: Neither teams with serious injuries. Edge: Push
OVERALL EDGE: PUSH

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Blair permalink
    April 24, 2011 4:46 pm

    If USC wins it goes to Stanford. No matter what the manual says about selection criteria they don’t weigh each one equally. It seems they tend to look at wins and losses first and if two teams are close they then look at head to head.

    I think back to 2008 when Lbsu lost in the quarters, BYU lost in the finals. BYU had a better record, and it was published that they had the edge in every criteria except head to head. LBSU got the bid. BYU’s AD said they were told the night before the selection was announced they were out of consideration due to LBSU being 2-0 against them. That year the two MPSF teams actually played in the semis but PSU was far and away the 1 seed that year.

    Irvine would have to win the whole thing too. A
    few more losses and they don’t have the head to head over USC, Stanford or BYU.

    I could be incredibly wrong, but just opinions on past observations.

  2. April 25, 2011 2:48 pm

    Is there any precedence for FIRST ROUND LOSERS in any of the conference tourneys getting the at-large bid?

  3. April 25, 2011 4:29 pm

    Whoops I guess if Blair is right, that happened at least in 2008——-

  4. Alan Vu permalink
    April 25, 2011 8:51 pm

    Irvine does have to win outright to qualify. Since they have to defeat USC, USC probably would get the at-large having such a good record overall and in the MPSF. I cite Irvine in 2006 when they were ranked #1 and lost in the MPSF semi’s as the MPSF #1. They received the at-large and the #1 overall seed. So any criteria for Irvine won’t even matter if they don’t win out.

    From my memory, I don’t remember any “1st round losers receiving the at-large.” Some research would have to be done. Again, I’ll cite Irvine in 2006 as a team who lost their first playoff game and received the at-large. They had a bye into the semi’s.

  5. Paul permalink
    April 26, 2011 8:02 pm

    Just for fun … UCSB Gauchos beat BYU 2 out of 3 and split with Stanford. Wins against both came at season end, suggesting strength at present time. Gauchos almost swept Stanford at Palo Alto before Cardinal rallied for 5 set win.
    BYU win was at Provo!!!!! Case for the “At Large” ???

    Seriously, Gauchos don’t have the polical clout for that. If they get past LV St. and lose to USC? Probably not.

    If they win the MPSF Tourney? Anyone betting on Cinderella?

  6. Brad permalink
    April 27, 2011 5:09 pm

    UCSB and BYU played the regular season series in Santa Barbara and you’re forgetting that BYU also beat Santa Barbara the first weekend of the season to make it a 2-2 split for the season with 3 of those games in Santa Barbara. I don’t see any way Santa Barbara gets the at large bid. The more interesting question is Irvine who got swept by both BYU and Stanford in conference but is playing great volleyball right now. I think you can make an argument for them but I think Stanford is going to get the bid assuming USC wins the tournament. Blair is right – this is 2008 all over again. I think BYU had a better overall season than Stanford. They had far more sweeps (winning 3-2 is not the same as winning 3-0 in my book). Stanford’s wins over BYU were in Palo Alto and were very early in the season. Stanford has been worse then BYU down the stretch and didn’t play USC nearly as tough as BYU who, again, played both of those matches in LA. I also think it’s ridiculous that Stanford’s loss to Cal Baptist doesn’t count, especially when BYU beat them on a neutral floor. Having said all of that, I just can’t see how the committee would pick BYU when the teams are otherwise very close and Stanford won head-to-head. Whatever happens, neither team can complain about getting snubbed when they couldn’t win a quarterfinal match on their home floor against a roughly 0.500 team.

  7. Paul permalink
    May 2, 2011 6:15 pm

    Rankings and decisions should be made in real time … not preseason or early season results. The only sports living in the political dark ages are NCAA Mens Volleyball and College Football. The “committees” don’t want to yield their power for the purity of the sport.

    None of this matters now. WIN or GO HOME … For good. That is the way it oughta be. Adopt all the other major playoff systems like March Madness, NFL, NBA, etc. Let 8 teams in. The four semi-finalists in MPSF and the finalists in the other two conferences. Then match them up against other conference opponent teams. Only that way will you truly determine the best teams in the country at the end of the season.

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