Like many fans, teams and men’s volleyball watchers around country, VolleyMob had lingering questions after the NCAA Selection Show yesterday.
We have given you a full breakdown of the field and an analysis of some of the biggest takeaways and questions from Sunday afternoon’s announcement.
But, there were some questions only the three people in the room who made the selections and seedings and placements could answer.
To do that, we reached out to the committee members: Janine Oman, executive associate athletics director at Ohio State; Ashley Armstrong, associate athletics director at UCLA; and Lenny Kaplan, athletics director at NJIT. Oman stepped forward to act as spokesman for the trio.
In a nutshell, it appears that while RPI has been the dirty word in NCAA women’s volleyball selection for the last several years, geography may have overtaken it this year when it comes to the men’s.
The answers likely will bring no solace to those questioning Hawaii’s exclusion and Ohio State’s participation in the play-in game. But, nonetheless, below are our questions for the committee and Oman’s responses.
First, we addressed the UC Irvine vs. Hawaii debate.
- What did UC Irvine have on its resume that gave it the edge over Big West No. 2 seed Hawaii?
- Did Hawaii’s loss via sweep in the conference tournament championship factor in?
- Did Hawaii’s road record hurt them? They were 2-4 on the road.
- How close was the decision between the two? Was it clear cut in the committee’s mind?
- How much did being the only team to beat Long Beach factor into Hawaii’s case?
Oman: Each team is evaluated on their complete body of work. Home/Road records and records against top teams are some of the criteria we use in the discussion so those factor into the decision. Wins and losses are evaluated strictly on a win or a loss and not the nature of the win or loss. The committee views all the data we have and makes a decision based on what differentiates the teams. Each year is a different discussion because the teams in contention for the at large selections change, and the differentiators between teams may involve different criteria.
Next, we addressed the other lingering question: the play-in game and why two-time defending national champion Ohio State has to play an extra game, while EIVA champions Harvard does not.
- Why was Ohio State seeded below Harvard?
- Was geography a factor?
- This seeding also will allow the defending champions to avoid a meeting with other recent champions UCLA at home until later in the tournament. Was that a consideration?
Oman: We seed the top 2 seeds and the rest are relatively seeded. Once we have the bracket, we must follow bracketing principles which states that opening round matchups will be determined by geographic proximity. As to which teams meet in the tournament, it is a factor of relatively seeding for this year’s championship.
Then, we talked seeding.
VolleyMob: Other than LBSU being the top seed, was anything else a sure thing?
Oman: Obviously, Long Beach has been the gold standard this year, and slotting them at the #1 seed was an easy one.
And finally, we asked about another potential at-large selection, Loyola Chicago.
VolleyMob: Was Loyola Chicago considered for an at-large berth?
Oman: Loyola had a very strong resume and was considered for an at large berth. The decision this year one was a difficult one between all those in consideration.
So, to recap, here’s how the NCAA Selection process for the men works, per Oman:
- The committee approves the five automatic qualifiers
- Then selects the two at-larges
- Once all seven teams are in the field, the committee determines the top two seeds which receive berths into the championship bracket.
- Opening round match-ups will be determined by geographic proximity and which create the least number of flights.