There might not be a more exciting time than late in the season when you’re trying to determine if your team is in the NCAA volleyball tournament.
We wondered if there is a relatively safe spot in the adjusted RPI rankings where a team has an even or better-than-even chance to make the tourney. It turns out there is. The sweet spot is to be ranked in the top 49. Here's how we found out.
We looked at the adjusted RPI rankings the committee used to make the tournament selections from 2010 to 2017 and determined where a team historically has a 50 percent chance or better of making the tournament.
We looked at teams ranked from 41st to 55th in RPI and found that teams ranked 41-45 have made the tournament 26 of 34 times (76 percent), which includes a team that was ineligible for the tournament because its record was under .500.
Teams ranked 46-50 made the tournament as at-large teams 53 percent of the time — 17 out of 32. And teams from the range of 51-55 made the tournament on just three occasions out of 35.
With so many factors going into whether or not a team receives an at-large bid for the tournament, there’s not an RPI ranking that is the definitive cut-off point for making the field of 64. However, it appears that being ranked in the top 49 is a fairly safe place.
Since 2010, teams eligible for at-large bids that were ranked 50th missed in all five years. Teams ranked 46th made the tournament all seven times. Teams ranked 48th were in five of six times, and those ranked 49th made it four of seven times. At-large teams ranked 47th, however, were in the tournament one of seven years.
Again, there are a lot of different factors that go into the committee’s decision, but this data shows about where a team wants to be when it comes selection time.
This chart below shows teams and their RPI ranking heading into the tournament the past three seasons and whether each team made the tournament.
Note: * = Teams with a losing record.
|Long Beach State||53rd||No|
|North Carolina State||49th||Yes|