This is NCAA.com's second year of doing a full DI women's volleyball bracket projection. This one comes with less than 50 days until selections — which are Nov. 27 — when the full, 64-team bracket will be revealed at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Here is how I do the long, detailed process of putting a projected bracket together. I did not pick these teams based on my own personal opinion. Instead, I did my best to follow the selection committee's criteria and bracketing principles. Before we even get to any of that, I should mention the committee has new selection criteria this year. Instead of only seeding the top 16 teams that will host a regional, the committee will seed 32 teams across eight seed lines.
So, the first four are one seeds, five through eight are two seeds, nine through 12 are three seeds, etc. Nos. 17-32 are the five, six, seven and eight seeds.
This next part will create more competitive parity in the bracket — out of the four eight seeds, each of them MUST go to one of the four one seeds for regionals. The committee will still try to place them within driving distance (less than 400 miles) if possible, but now there are only the four options to pick from. The seven seeds will need to go to one of the four two seeds, six seeds will need to play at one of the four three seeds, and so on.
Here is the statement from the NCAA:
"The committee expressed an interest to seed the top 32 or 50% of the field (versus 25%) in order to generate a bracket with better competitive parity and avoid imbalance with respect to the relative strength of regional assignments. The committee recognizes that seeding 50% of the field would likely create additional travel expense in the bracketing process and would be a consideration for all team sports."
So in doing this exercise, I seeded the top 16 seeds, and then grouped 17-32 by seed. The difference between 17 and 18, for example, is not a big difference at all. But the difference between 20-21 is the difference between being a five or six seed. So I focused mostly on those differences. I predicted the 32 automatic qualifiers (via conference championships), and then filled in the rest of the spots with at-large bids. Again, I used the committee's criteria, the most recent RPI and a little guess as to how the season will shake out.
Important to note: these are through results on Oct. 11.
Doing this all by hand was no easy task, but without further ado — here is my bracket projection less than 50 days away from Selections:
2022 NCAA volleyball bracket predictions, less than 50 days from selections
Star denotes automatic qualifier*
|(1) Texas* vs HCU*||(1) Nebraska* vs. Sacred Heart*|
|Washington State vs. (8) Towson*||South Dakota* vs. (8) Colorado|
|(5) Rice* vs. LSU||(5) Houston * vs. Yale*|
|Portland State* vs. (4) Oregon||UMBC* vs. (4) Penn State|
|(3) Wisconsin vs. Loyola Chicago*||(3) Florida* vs. Florida A&M*|
|Miami vs. (6) Creighton||Florida State vs. (6) BYU *|
|(7) Kansas vs. Utah||(7) Mississippi State vs. James Madison*|
|Fairfield* vs. (2) Minnesota||ETSU* vs. (2) Ohio State|
|(2) Pittsburgh vs. Howard*||(2) Stanford* vs. Texas Tech|
|Colgate* vs. (7) Baylor||Colorado State* vs. (7) Pepperdine|
|(6) USC vs. Bowling Green*||(6) Arkansas vs. Hawai'i*|
|Wright State* vs. (3) Purdue||Loyola Marymount vs. (3) Washington|
|(4) Marquette* vs. UNI*||(4) Georgia Tech vs. High Point*|
|Northwestern vs. (5) UCF||Kennesaw State vs. (5) Kentucky|
|(8) Auburn vs. UNLV||(8) Michigan vs. Western Kentucky|
|SFA* vs. (1) San Diego*||SIUE* vs. (1) Louisville|
The top 16 seeds
4. San Diego
6. Ohio State
14. Penn State
15. Georgia Tech
These seedings are a projection of the committee's seeding at the end of the season. So yes, it is based on results through Oct. 11, but I also had to make an educated guess on how things might shake out. For example, I have to assume that Nebraska will win the Big Ten and therefore get the No. 3 spot over San Diego. I have to assume that Florida will win the SEC, and therefore be all the way up at No. 11 as the SEC Champion.
Washington is a team I think could be sneaky high by the end of the season — they have a No. 16 RPI as of right now and only three losses. Assuming they would finish second in the Pac-12 above Oregon, they would get the No. 10 seed and Oregon still remains in as a host as the No. 16 seed.
Marquette is another team I am predicting will receive a top-16 seed. They too have a high RPI (13), will have won their conference in this projection and scheduled tough in the non-conference.
- Mississippi State
(Before you think or say anything out loud, this was made before the outcome of the Baylor-Rice matchup on Oct. 12)
32 Automatic Qualifiers
Projecting the winners of every conference, here are 32 AQs in the NCAA tournament field. The remaining spots are given at-large bids.
|Atlantic 10||Loyola Chicago||77|
|Big Sky||Portland State||100|
|Big South||High Point||59|
|Horizon League||Wright State||78|
|Mountain West||Colorado State||38|
|Summit League||South Dakota||45|
|Sun Belt||James Madison||52|
|WAC||Stephen F Austin||65|