The addition of a new conference – the Big West – to Men’s Collegiate Volleyball has created a few alterations to the 2018 edition of the Men’s NCAA Volleyball Tournament, including a seven-team field.
For starters, the Big West’s birth into the Men’s side of things creates another automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Previously in 2017, the Conference Carolinas, Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) were the lone automatic qualifying leagues. Moving on to 2018, the Big West makes it five leagues with an automatic bid on the line.
Beyond the teams who clinch a spot in the tournament, last year two schools made the event as at-large qualifiers selected by the NCAA Tournament committee. The addition of the Big West will not affect that number, as still a pair will be chosen to supplement the secured five.
Based on simple math, the new rules mean that seven teams – a record for Men’s NCAA Volleyball – will make the NCAA Tournament in 2018. In this format, teams pegged as the sixth and seventh seeds will battle in a play-in match according to Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik, who discussed the changes in a video previewing his season. From there, #4 plays #5 while the winner of #6/#7 plays #3. The two victors in that quarterfinal round advance to the semifinals where they will meet up with the top two seeds who earned byes.
So to sum things up, the newest conference – the Big West – will get an automatic bid along with the previous four leagues, which will join the two at-large teams for a seven-team field. Six will play seven to narrow things back down to the quarterfinal round where the rest will go the same as in previous years.
The 2018 NCAA Tournament will be played in Los Angeles, California at UCLA and Pauley Pavillion from May 3-5.