THE AUTOMATIC BIDS:
Big West: #1 Long Beach State (24-1, 9-1)
- The 49ers dropped a match for the first time this season, but they still won the Big West by three matches. Now as they head into the Big West Tournament as the regular season league champs, they retain this spot and may have an NCAA Tournament berth essentially locked up even if they are upended.
Conference Carolinas: #17 King (20-5, 15-1)
- King had just one match of non-conference action this week as they reached the 20-win plateau for the second consecutive season. Now they embark on the Conference Carolinas Tournament, where they look to defend their #1 seed and earn the real NCAA Tournament berth.
EIVA: #16 George Mason (17-11, 13-1)
- The Patriots fended off a challenge for the EIVA title as they took down Harvard twice to win the regular season by three matches. That now sends them to the EIVA Tournament as the #1 seed where they look to maintain this position for real.
MIVA: #6 Ohio State (21-5, 11-3)
- The Buckeyes started up the MIVA Tournament with a sweep of Quincy. That pushes them to the semifinals as they remain in this position as the #1 seed, but will face a stern test with #8 Lewis and either #7 Loyola Chicago or #10 Ball State if they can down the Flyers.
MPSF: #2 BYU (20-6, 10-2)
- BYU had a bye in the quarterfinals round of the MPSF Tournament as they hold the #1 seed from winning the regular season title. They could really use that automatic berth from winning the postseason too, as although they won the only head-to-head match with Hawaii, they also lost twice to UC Irvine, which would make for an interesting potential at-large debate.
#3 UCLA Bruins (23-6, 9-3 MPSF)
- UCLA avoided a critical opening round MPSF loss to Stanford, as now they face a lower ranked Concordia Irvine. The Bruins have a loaded list of victories and resume overall, so at this point they may be close to a lock to at least earn an at-large – especially since they defeated UC Irvine twice and split their two road matches with Hawaii. Still, a win over at least Concordia Irvine might help lock things up here even if they can’t win the MPSF.
#4 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (18-7, 6-4 Big West)
- Hawaii overtakes UC Irvine for the second at-large after they put something on their resume that no one else has – a win over Long Beach State. The two records are similar – 18-7 vs. 20-8. Both have head-to-head wins against one another. UC Irvine has a bit more depth in resume and has an added win over Loyola Chicago and BYU twice, while Hawaii counters with victories over LBSU and UCLA. It’s close all-around, but that shiny new object of the LBSU win combined with Hawaii being the #2 seed and UCI the #3 in the same league is enough for the time being. That said, their potential Big West semifinal match with UC Irvine could truly decide this.
FIRST TWO OUT:
#5 UC Irvine Anteaters (20-8, 6-4 Big West)
- In regards to the team right behind them, UC Irvine has a head-to-head victory over Loyola Chicago in four sets on a neutral playing field. That could come into play later, although at the moment their biggest challenge may come from Hawaii. Both teams (as explained right above) are very close together, but at the moment the Anteaters are slightly behind in VolleyMob’s estimation. All-in-all it doesn’t really matter what the perception of one versus the other is coming into this week though, because we could be proven totally wrong if UC Irvine downs UC San Diego in the Big West Quarterfinals and then could take down Hawaii in the Big West Semifinals.
#7 Loyola Chicago Ramblers (22-6, 11-3 MIVA)
- Loyola might be in a tough spot now that Hawaii took down LBSU because it almost seems like a potential UC Irvine-Hawaii Big West Semifinals could be for an at-large bid. Loyola’s easiest route is obviously just winning the MIVA, but UC San Diego downing UC Irvine and Hawaii would also be very helpful. In terms of more realistic at-large hopes, since they lost to UC Irvine their best bet might not to be work around UC Irvine/Hawaii, but instead hope that BYU loses in the MPSF Tournament and UCLA claims the automatic bid – the reasoning being that they won head-to-head against the Cougars. Obviously, this at-large case all starts with the Ramblers getting as far as they can without winning the MIVA, meaning they will have to down #10 Ball State this week.
SEEDING THE BRACKET:
- (1) LBSU
- (2) BYU
- (3) UCLA
- (4) Hawaii
- (5) Ohio State
- (6) George Mason
- (7) King