Bracketology 2022 – Part I

It’s that time of year again! The first regional rankings were published yesterday, and the volleyball world went nuts for a hot minute. In case you didn’t know, the first regional rankings are published alphabetically, not numerically. Regardless, we now have a definitive list of schools we can start constructing a possible post-season around, which is very exciting. This leads us to our first bracketology segment of the 2022 season.

Why are the regional rankings important?

Simply put, all the mainstream rankings for D3VB men’s volleyball (AVCA Coaches Poll, FrogJump Top 20, etc) are meaningless measurements used strictly for bragging rights between programs. They have no intrinsic value when it comes to your post season chances, but the regional rankings do! Being regionally ranked by the NCAA is the first hurdle programs must clear if they are playing for extra chances at the post season.

This year’s tournament will feature 11 Pool A bids (Conference Champions), 1 Pool B bid (Independent schools not associated with a conference), and 4 Pool C bids (at-large bids comprising the pool of remaining teams from Pool A and B). Most schools have the opportunity to play for two chances to enter the NCAA tournament, but only the schools who are regionally ranked are considered for any of the coveted Pool C/B bids; that’s why being ranked is a big deal.

State of Play

The rankings released yesterday were listed alphabetically as opposed to numerically; meaning the landscape is still in the dark in terms of the regional pecking order. Since the ranking criteria and some of the match data is public knowledge, I’ve taken advantage of my lack of a social life to demystify yesterday’s release by ranking the regional selections according to NCAA criteria.

Fair warning, I’m not an expert when it comes to the ranking process, and I’ve never been involved in one. Further, the below snapshots are where I think the regions stand based on the publicly available information we have, they are essentially my opinions.

Just for emphasis… These are not official NCAA rankings by any means and shouldn’t be used as such, they are the predictions of one fan who runs a D3VB website. I do think I’ve done a decent enough job in capturing where things stand regionally to provide value to the landscape until the 2nd rankings come out.

For reference, the primary NCAA ranking criteria are as follows…

  1. D3 Win/Loss %
  2. Strength of Schedule
  3. Win/Loss versus Regionally Ranked teams
    1.  It’s worth mentioning that no team could have a record versus regionally ranked teams yet, because no teams were regionally ranked up till yesterday. This is one of the reasons why initial rankings are released alphabetically. This criteria will be captured in future releases now that we have a pool of regionally ranked teams; the second rankings being based on the teams from week 1 and the 3rd ranking based on the teams ranked in weeks 2 and 3.
  4. Record versus Common Opponents
  5. Head-to-Head Result

Below is where I think things stand currently in the respective regions. I’ve included some of the available criteria alongside each team; only match data up to 3/20 is utilized.  

Region IWin/LossSOS
1. Springfield17-1 (.944)0.678
2. Wentworth19-4 (.826)0.540
3. SJLI17-3 (.850)0.520
4. Rivier11-6 (.647)0.594
5. Lasell13-7 (.650)0.603
6. NJCU13-8 (.619)0.559
7. Ramapo10-9 (.526)0.598

Region IIWin/LossSOS
1. SVU14-1 (.933)0.651
2. Rutgers17-2 (.895)0.642
3. Stevens22-3 (.880)0.637
4. Vassar14-4 (.778)0.662
5. Marymount19-5 (.792)0.622
6.Stevenson17-6 (.739)0.681
7. New Paltz12-4 (.750)0.631

Region IIIWin/LossSOS
1. NCC15-1 (.938)0.575
2. Dominican16-1 (.941)0.587
3. Carthage13-3 (.813)0.603
4. Cal Lutheran9-4 (.692)0.640
5. Loras17-4 (.810)0.547
6. Benedictine11-5 (.688)0.559
7. Aurora11-8 (.579)0.594
8.Fontbonne14-5 (.737)0.524

One more time, and with much emphasis, THESE ARE SIMPLY MY GUESSTIMATIONS OF THE CURRENT REGIONAL LANDSCAPE. They are not official rankings. While I’m confident in their accuracy, these rankings intrinsically mean nothing. Likewise, the predictions I have below likewise mean nothing and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Possible Tournament Field

We can begin constructing a Tournament field with the information above and the playing trends we’ve seen throughout the season so far. Below you’ll find a list of the most likely Pool A candidates, aka the teams I think are most likely to win their conference if the season were to have ended on 3/20 (sorry Messiah, your win over Stevenson doesn’t exist yet).  

UVC: Vassar
CVC: Southern Virginia
MAC: Stevens
GNAC: Wentworth
CCIW: Carthage
NACC: Dominican
Skyline: St. Joseph’s – Long Island
MCVL: Fontbonne
NECC: Endicott
CUNYAC: Baruch
AMCC: Penn State – Behrend

Given the field above, I believe the teams below are the front runners for the remaining bids as of 3/20.

Pool B: Springfield (I think Springfield has essentially locked this bid up by this point of the season given their current resume compared to the remaining Independent teams).

Pool C: North Central College
Pool C: Rutgers-Newark
Pool C: Marymount
Pool C: Stevenson (I’m aware they lost to Messiah yesterday, but the loss didn’t exist on 3/20).

This is my regional snapshot as of Monday, but there is a ton of volleyball left that can possibly shake things up. As mentioned above Messiah’s win over Stevenson is definitely going to have an effect, and there are a ton of other significant matches of note on the horizon with regional ranking implications. Below you’ll find the ones coming up JUST THIS WEEKEND.

Carthage vs North Central
Southern Virginia vs Rutgers-Newark
Marymount vs Juniata
New Paltz vs Vassar
St. Joseph’s – Long Island vs Ramapo
Lasell vs Rivier

We might be in the end game of 2022, but there’s a ton of consequential ball left to be played before we get to Conference Championships. April is around the corner; I hope everyone hits the court with the intent to make some noise.

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