The RPI ranking is just one of several criteria the selection committee considers when choosing and seeding teams for the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament.
As fans try to evaluate which teams will head to the tournament and which ones will stay home in the coming weeks before the selection show on Nov. 25, we looked at every tournament field since 2010 to determine just how high a team can be ranked in RPI and still not make the tournament.
Below is a list of the four teams in each year — from 2010 through 2017 — that ranked highest in RPI but didn’t make the field of 64. The biggest takeaway from this list is that if a team is in the top-40, there’s a strong likelihood that team will be selected for the tournament, as only two teams ranked in the top-40 missed the tournament — and one had a losing record.
The average RPI ranking for the top four teams that missed the tournament since 2010 is between 47th and 48th, so you can assume that if a team is at least a couple spots ahead of that benchmark, there’s a good chance it will be playing at least one more game.
It’s also important to note that a lot of these numbers are dependent on automatic bids. There were several automatic bids since 2010 that were in the top 50 of RPI, but it’s debatable whether those teams would have made it had they not won their conference or conference tournament.
Here are a few other trends that jumped out at us.
- Illinois and Tulsa were the only teams that were inside the top-40 and missed the NCAA tournament. But it was a little surprising to see that even if a team is 45th or better in RPI, there were only 10 cases since 2010 where that team was left out.
- Several of the teams with high RPIs that didn’t make the tournament came from conferences that don’t have a lot of ranked teams. Again, strength of schedule is a factor in the committee’s decisions.
- The most stark difference in RPI between a team that missed the tournament and one that made it came in 2015. Baylor, Boise State and Wyoming each missed the NCAA tournament with RPI rankings of 42nd, 43rd and 44th. Michigan State made the tournament and was 54th in RPI.
- Of the eight teams on the list from the Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12, four of them had records of .500 or under .500. The four other teams above .500 had at least four more losses than wins in conference play.
|2012||Illinois||Big Ten||37th||14-16 (8-12)|
|2014||Southern Methodist||American||42nd||26-6 (15-5)|
|2015||Baylor||Big 12||42nd||17-13 (5-11)|
|2013||Butler||Big East||43rd||23-8 (11-6)|
|2015||Boise State||Mountain West||43rd||23-7 (15-3)|
|2015||Wyoming||Mountain West||44th||23-7 (13-5)|
|2017||Ohio State||Big Ten||44th||15-16 (8-12)|
|2014||Cal State Northridge||Big West||45th||19-9 (10-6)|
|2010||Southern Methodist||C-USA||47th||25-6 (17-3)|
|2011||Kansas||Big 12||47th||14-14 (3-13)|
|2017||North Texas||C-USA||47th||29-4 (13-1)|
|2010||Marquette||Big East||48th||23-9 (12-4)|
|2016||Georgia Tech||ACC||49th||24-8 (15-5)|
|2010||Western Michigan||MAC||50th||22-10 (12-5)|
|2013||Ohio State||Big Ten||50th||18-14 (6-14)|
|2017||Iowa||Big Ten||50th||18-15 (7-13)|
|2011||North Dakota||Great West||52nd||24-5 (10-2)|
|2011||UC Santa Barbara||Big West||53rd||19-12 (11-5)|
|2015||Long Beach State||Big West||53rd||25-6 (15-3)|
|2016||Cal Poly||Big West||54th||18-9 (11-5)|