Pt. 2: NCAA chances for ACC, AAC, Big 12, Big East, B1G, C-USA, Pac-12, SEC, WCC


We’ll continue with our conference-by-conference breakdown heading into the home stretch of the NCAA Division I volleyball season with the leagues that will get multiple bids to the 64-team NCAA Tournament: 

ACC, American Athletic, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Conference USA, Pac-12, SEC and the West Coast Conference. 

In case you missed it, Tuesday we had a breakdown of the other 23 conferences, most of which are going to get one NCAA bid.

First a look at Wednesday’s schedule, the AVCA Poll, NCAA RPI and the national player of the week.

The Big 12 has four matches, including No. 1 Texas home for Kansas, No. 15 Baylor playing host to Iowa State, and TCU at West Virginia and Oklahoma at Kansas State.

The SEC has three matches, No. 18 Kentucky home for Tennessee, LSU at Texas A&M and Arkansas at Missouri.

There are two conference tournaments getting underway, the MAAC and Sun Belt. In the MAAC, the league from the Northeast playing at Disney in Orlando, Saint Peters plays Niagara and Manhattan plays Rider. The Sun Belt tourney is in Foley, Alabama, where Georgia State plays Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe plays Marshall.

The MAC has a full slate, including division leaders Ball State home for Toledo and Bowling Green at Miami. Also, Akron is at Buffalo, Central Michigan is at Eastern Michigan, Kent State is at Ohio and NIU is at Western Michigan.

The Missouri Valley schedule has league-leading UNI playing at second-place Drake, Murray State at Belmont, UIC at Valparaiso, Bradley at Illinois State and Southern Illinois at Missouri State.

Among the other matches, Wake Forest is at Duke in the ACC, Wichita State plays an American Athletic Conference match at Tulsa and Connecticut plays a Big East match at Providence.

Want to watch a match? We have the viewing links on the VolleyballMag.com TV & Streaming Listings page.

AVCA TOP 25: The top three — Texas, San Diego and Wisconsin — stayed the same.

Louisville moved up a spot to No. 4, Ohio State did the same to No. 5, and Nebraska fell two spots to No. 6.

There was no major movement and no one dropped out

Click here for the complete AVCA Division I Coaches Poll. There are only two regular-season polls left. 

NCAA RPI: Stanford finally moved into the coveted top four. The Pac-12 leader is behind top-ranked Texas and Louisville, and Ohio State has the fourth spot.

The next four are Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Florida. Rounding out the top 16 are Minnesota, Kentucky, Oregon, San Diego, Creighton, Marquette, UCF and Baylor.

Click here for the complete NCAA RPI, sortable by conference and record.

AVCA POW: The honor went to Ohio State right side Emily Londot, who averaged 5.25 kills in four-set wins over Purdue and Nebraska. Londot, a 6-3 junior from Utica, Ohio, had 23 kills and a career-high 21 digs against Nebraska.

BREAKING IT DOWN: There are 64 spots on the NCAA Tournament bracket. Each of the 32 conferences gets one. Of the 23 conferences we listed on Tuesday, only a few have a chance of getting a second team in and that would only happen if heavily favored teams get upset in their conference tournaments. 

For argument’s sake, let’s say there are no second teams from any of those conferences. That means that there will be 32 at-large spots to be divvied up betweeen the nine conferences below. Right off, there are at least six going to the Big Ten. That leaves 26 for eight leagues. The Pac-12 is going to get five at-larges. That leaves 21 for seven leagues. 

And so on. 

NCAA RPI is not the only factor, but it’s a strong indicator. How deep does the selection committee go on November 27? High 40s? Low 50s?

AMERICAN ATHLETIC: Two teams are in, Houston (25-2, 16-0, 18 RPI) and UCF (23-1, 15-1, 15 RPI). Houston has won 17 matches in a row, including a four-set victory over UCF on October 7. The rematch is November 25 in Orlando to end the regular season.

UCF is second in the NCAA only to Texas in hitting percentage at .319 and McKenna Melville is second in the NCAA in kills per set (5.39).

ACC: It seems pretty cut and dried that the ACC will get five teams in. Pittsburgh (25-2, 5-0) leads the league and is No. 5 in the RPI. Louisville (24-2, 15-1) is next, No. 2 in the RPI. Three others will get in, Georgia Tech (18-6, 11-4, 19 RPI), Florida State (17-9, 9-6, 30 RPI) and Miami (17-9, 10-5, 33 RPI).

The big rematch — Pitt won the first — is Friday at Louisville. The winner could earn one of the coveted top-four seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Louisville finishes with a trip to Notre Dame, while Pittsburgh plays host to Georgia Tech on November 23 and finishes up with Boston College.

BIG 12: The Big 12 — specifically TCU — is going to give the selection committee heartburn. If Texas (19-1, 12-1, 1 RPI) closes out it will be the No. 1 seed in the tournaent. But the Longhorns play host to Kansas (17-8, 7-6, 24 RPI) Wednesday (tonight) and then entertain Baylor (21-5, 10-3, 16 RPI) on Saturday before finishing at West Virginia next Wednesday. Texas had to pull off a reverse sweep at Texas on September 21 in the Big 12 opener and won in four at Baylor on October 15.

Baylor and Kansas are in, and so is Iowa State (18-9, 9-4, 27 RPI), which is the only team to beat Texas. 

TCU (13-10, 8-5, 40 RPI ) has to be considered a strong possibility, but the Horned Frogs had no high-quality out-of-conference wins. They split with Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas, but can’t raise their RPI standing even by winning out in their final three matches with West Virginia, Kansas State and Oklahoma. And even though they’ve won five of six, that does not include forfeiting to Texas because of illness, losing the benefit of losing, presumably, from an RPI standpoint to the top team.

K-State is the next highest RPI team at No. 68.

BIG EAST: This is a two-team league with Creighton (24-3, 16-0, 13 RPI) and Marquette (24-2, 15-1, 14 RPI) and they play each other on Saturday. 

Creighton, which has won 16 in a row, won its first meeting with Marquette, a reverse sweep at home on October 14. Creighton has beaten Iowa State, USC, Northern Iowa, lost to Nebraska in five, beat Florida State and lost to Rice in five, and plays at DePaul on Friday. 

Marquette has won nine in a row and had non-conference wins over Kentucky and Illinois. The Golden Eagles play host to Xavier on Friday before the big showdown with Creighton that will almost assuredly put the winner into a top-16 NCAA Tournament slot.

BIG TEN: Seven or eight teams? 

Who’s in? Ohio State (19-5, 15-1, 4 RPI), defending national-champion Wisconsin (21-3 15-1, 6 RPI), Nebraska (22-3, 14-2, 7 RPI), Minnesota (17-7, 12-4, 9 RPI), Penn State (21-6, 10-6, 20 RPI), Purdue (18-8, 9-7, 23 RPI) and Michigan (15-11, 6-10, 39 RPI). Left dangling is Northwestern (17-11, 6-10, 46 RPI).

Ohio State, Wisconsin and Nebraska are all in the hunt for a top-four seed. 

Ohio State plays Maryland, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Wisconsin has Rutgers, but then goes to Penn State, Nebraska and Ohio State. And Nebraska goes to Iowa and finishes at home with Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Northwestern was riding high and went up 2-1 on visiting Nebraska on November 6 and led 23-21 in the fourth set. But things fell apart, the Huskers won the fourth and were up 9-3 in the fifth when Northwestern — already down a setter — lost the backup to injury. Since then, the Wildcats have lost to Michigan and Michigan State. A libero is playing setter and things are not looking good for that at-large bid.

The next highest B1G RPI team is Illinois at 65.

Lauren Matthews of Western Kentucky hits against Rice/Gunnar Word, WKU Athletics

CONFERENCE USA: This is another two-team league with Western Kentucky (26-2, 14-0, 25 RPI) and Rice (23-3, 13-1, 17 RPI). WKU won their only matchup last Saturday in five, 16-14 in the fifth. There’s a great chance they’ll play again in the Conference USA tournament final.

Western Kentucky is No. 3 in the NCAA in hitting percentage at .317. Lauren Matthews is hitting .400, 19th in the NCAA. Rice’s Anota Adekunla is No. 6 at .428. 

PAC-12: The conference has seven teams that could get in. League-leader Stanford (20-4, 15-1, 3 RPI), Oregon (19-5, 13-3, 11 RPI), USC (19-8, 11-5, 21 RPI), Washington (18-8, 11-5, 34 RPI) and Washington State (19-8, 11-5, 38 RPI) will all be on the bracket.

Stanford, which has won 14 in a row, ends the regular season against the bottom four teams in the league, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon State and Cal. You have to like the Cardinal’s chances for a top four seed. 

Can Utah (15-12, 8-8, 41 RPI) get a bid? Can Colorado (17-9, 9-7, 48 RPI)? They play each other to end the season.

Utah has to go to Washington State, Washington and Arizona State before heading Colorado.

Colorado will likely have to win out at Washington, Washington State and Arizona before finishing at home with Utah.

SEC: The SEC, at this writing, has eight teams in the hunt, but the matchups will be tough and teams will be canceling each other out.

In for sure are Florida (20-4, 12-2), 8 RPI), Kentucky (16-6, 11-2, 10 RPI), Arkansas (15-8, 6-7, 26 RPI) and Auburn (21-5, 10-5, 31 RPI). 

Then comes LSU (14-11, 8-7, 42 RPI), Tennessee (14-11, 8-5, 44 RPI), Georgia (18-7, 9-5, 45 RPI) and Mississippi State (13-11, 6-8, 47 RPI).

LSU is coming off a win over last-place Missouri but lost three in a row before that. The Tigers go to Texas A&M tonight, get nine days off, and then finish at home with two matches against Georgia.

Tennesse goes to Kentucky tonight and then has Mississippi State at home twice before heading to Alabama for two matches.

Georgia won five in a row but has now lost two of three. The Bulldogs go to Ole Miss for two matches before finishing up at LSU. 

And State plays twice at Tennessee before getting Mizzou for two matches.

WEST COAST: In theory, the WCC gets four teams in.

San Diego (24-1, 15-0, 12 RPI) and BYU (19-5, 13-2, 28 RPI) are locks, of course, but can San Diego get one of the top four seeds? The Toreros, who have won a nation-best 21 in a row, did everything the NCAA asks, schedule tough and win, but the WCC is the sixth-ranked RPI conference. San Diego had early season wins over Pitt, Hawai’i, Ohio State and Utah. Its only loss to was in four sets September 2 at Louisville.

Loyola Marymount (16-7, 12-3, 37 RPI) seems to have a strong shot, but its biggest wins were over then-No. 22 UCLA and then-No. 20 Pepperdine. Pepperdine (18-8, 9-6, 43 RPI), which beat Washington, Baylor, Minnesota and Washington State in the pre-conference, is hopeful. Everyone will have a shot to bolster their chances/seeding cases, but against each other.

San Diego finishes on the roard against the other three teams, at LMU on Thursday, at Pepperdine on Saturday, and then the rematch at BYU on Tuesday. USD swept BYU on October 21.

BYU goes to Pepperdine and LMU before coming home for San Diego.

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