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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | November 16, 2022

The 2022 DI women's volleyball bracket predicted, less than two weeks from selections

2022 NCAA volleyball bracket predictions, less than two weeks from selections

This is NCAA.com's second year of doing a full DI women's volleyball bracket projection. This one comes less than two weeks from selections — which are Nov. 27 — when the full, 64-team bracket will be revealed at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU. This is my second and final bracket projection for this season. 

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 remind everyone that 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 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. Those guesses had to get REALLY specific this time around — considering there are only two more weeks of the regular season. For example, Wisconsin and Nebraska will face again with huge implications on seeding, Ohio State and Wisconsin will face, Marquette and Creighton, Pitt and Louisville, etc. The outcomes of those matchups will make all the difference, so I had to not only base it off of where these teams are now, but also assume they will be at the end of the season. 

Important to note: these are through results on Nov. 15.

Doing this all by hand was no easy task, but without further ado — here is my bracket projection less than two weeks away from Selections: 

2022 NCAA volleyball bracket predictions, less than two weeks from selections

*Star denotes host institution

(1) Texas* vs. UTRGV   (1) Ohio State* vs. Wright State
Georgia vs. (8) Washington   James Madison vs. (8) Miami (FL)
     
(5) Penn State vs. Utah   (5) Georgia Tech vs. LSU
Bowling Green vs. (4) Marquette   Southeastern La. vs. (4) Houston*
     
(3) Oregon* vs. LIU   (3) Minnesota* vs. Binghamton
Hawaii vs. (6) BYU   Yale vs. (6) Iowa State
     
(7) Kansas vs. South Dakota   (7) UNLV vs. Washington State
High Point vs. (2) Nebraska*   Northern Colorado vs. (2) San Diego*
     
(2) Pittsburgh* vs. Howard   (2) Stanford* vs. Alabama State
Towson vs. (7) Purdue   Pepperdine vs. (7) Arkansas
     
(6) USC vs. Loyola Marymount   (6) Rice vs. TCU
Fairfield vs. (3) Creighton*   FGCU vs. (3) Florida*
     
(4) Kentucky* vs. ETSU   (4) Baylor* vs. Army West Point
Michigan vs. (5) Western Kentucky   Colorado vs. (5) UCF
     
(8) Florida State vs. UNI   (8) Auburn vs. Northwestern
Loyola Chicago vs. (1) Wisconsin*   SIUE vs. (1) Louisville*
Volleyball bracket prediction

The top 16 seeds

1. Texas
2. Louisville
3. Ohio State
4. Wisconsin
5. Pittsburgh
6. San Diego
7. Stanford
8. Nebraska
9. Oregon
10. Florida
11. Minnesota
12. Creighton
13. Kentucky
14. Houston
15. Baylor
16. Marquette

These seedings are a projection of the committee's seeding at the end of the season. So yes, it is based on results through Nov. 15, but I also had to make an educated guess on how things might shake out. And this time around, and like I mentioned earlier, the guesses had to get super specific. Let's start at the top. I assumed Texas will be the No. 1 seed if they win out and that Louisville will be No. 2 if they pick up a win over Pittsburgh. If Pitt beats Louisville for the second time this season, that obviously would not be the case. But that is why it is a bracket projection!

Based on how Ohio State has been playing and where they stand currently in the Big Ten, I projected them to win the conference. This is with a guess that they will take down Wisconsin which still remains on their schedule, and get the No. 3 overall seed. Wisconsin is right below them in my projection, so likely that would mean they have to beat Nebraska for a second time. The Huskers would take a hit, dropping down a bit in the seeding with another loss. I have Pitt at No. 5 assuming they split with Louisville, and San Diego at No. 6 based on their RPI. The Cardinal were given the seventh spot over the Huskers because they own a higher RPI and have the head-to-head victory. RPI has always been really important to the committee, as are things like top-10, top-five and top-15 wins. 

Oregon has been placed favorably in both of the committee's top-10 reveals, so assuming they win out, I projected them to be the No. 9 seed. And then if Florida is able to win the SEC and pick up one or maybe two more ranked wins over Kentucky, I have them at No. 10. Minnesota drops to No. 11 with the assumption that they might pick up one or two more losses this season, especially with a tough final stretch in the Big Ten. 

Nos. 12-16 were difficult with many teams right on the cusp and in similar situations. Creighton beat Marquette once this season already and has the No. 13 RPI currently. They have to play Marquette once or maybe even twice (if they face in the Big East Championship) more, so assuming they pick up one more win, I have them as the No. 12 seed. Then my last three hosts are Houston, Baylor and Marquette. Houston is my projected AQ out of the American conference, and though they have a slightly lower RPI than UCF, they have the head-to-head victory and only two losses to Rice and Texas. I gave them a spot as a host over UCF, and the Knights are my FIRST team out of the top 16, followed by Georgia Tech. 

Five-eight seeds

Five seeds:

  • UCF
  • Georgia Tech
  • Penn State
  • Western Kentucky

Six seeds:

  • USC 
  • Rice
  • Iowa State
  • BYU

Seven seeds:

  • Arkansas
  • Purdue
  • UNLV
  • Kansas

Eight seeds:

  • Florida State
  • Auburn
  • Miami (FL)
  • Washington

Projecting the winners of every conference, here are 32 AQs in the NCAA tournament field. The remaining spots are given at-large bids. 

CONFERENCE AQ CURRENT RPI
America East Binghamton 160
American Houston 18
ACC Louisville 2
ASUN FGCU 52
Atlantic 10 Loyola Chicago 75
Big East Creighton 13
Big Sky Northern Colorado 101
Big South High Point 66
Big Ten Ohio State 4
Big 12 Texas 1
Big West Hawaii 35
CAA Towson 36
C-USA Western Kentucky 25
Horizon League Wright State 61
Ivy League Yale 32
MAC Bowling Green 51
MAAC Fairfield 124
MEAC Howard 164
Missouri Valley UNI 49
Mountain West UNLV 22
NEC LIU 270
Ohio Valley SIUE 231
Pac-12 Stanford 4
Patriot League Army West Point 93
SEC Florida 8
SoCon ETSU 90
Southland Southeastern La. 161
Summit League South Dakota 50
SWAC Alabama State 224
Sun Belt James Madison 29
WAC UTRGV 53
WCC San Diego 12

At-large bids 

  • Wisconsin*
  • Pittsburgh*
  • Nebraska*
  • Oregon*
  • Minnesota*
  • Kentucky*
  • Baylor*
  • Marquette*
  • UCF
  • Georgia Tech 
  • Penn State
  • USC
  • Rice
  • Iowa State
  • BYU
  • Arkansas
  • Purdue
  • Kansas
  • Florida State
  • Auburn
  • Miami (FL)
  • Washington
  • Loyola Marymount
  • Washington St
  • Michigan
  • TCU
  • Utah
  • Pepperdine
  • Georgia
  • Colorado
  • LSU
  • Northwestern

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