Bracketology 2023: At-Large Bids (maybe?)


Fair warning, I’m not an expert when it comes to the selection process, and I’ve never been involved in one personally. But I’ve done enough homework to feel confident in my ability to project certain decisions based on the available data released by the NCAA. This article is a general well-informed guess as to how things might play out given the outcomes of the Conference Tournaments and the remaining teams eligible for Pool B/C bids. Simply put, my thoughts don’t matter in the grand scheme of things so take them for what you will. But I might be able to walk you through the decisions most likely being discussed by the committee at this very moment.

*** Remember**** The committee has data I do not, like up to date SOS, Common Opponent Numbers, and the final regional rankings, the data I use is based on everything we have up till last regional rankings plus a few conference tournaments. My information is incomplete.

We can make some educated guesses based on the results we’ve had this season and the criteria the NCAA selection committee uses to determine at-large selections. The NCAA DIII manual has all the criteria publicly available for those interested in their decision making, but for reference the primary selection criteria are going to be as follows.

  1. D3 Win/Loss %
  2. Strength of Schedule
  3. Win/Loss versus Regionally Ranked teams
  4. Record versus Common Opponents
  5. Head-to-Head Result

Pool A consists of all the teams aligned with an athletic conference which sponsors a Men’s Volleyball Championship. Pool A bids are reserved for the winners of these championships. They are listed below.

NACC: Benedictine
MCVL: Baldwin Wallace
UVC: Vassar
CVC: Juniata
MAC: Stevens
GNAC: Wentworth
AMCC: Geneva
SKYLINE: St. Joseph’s College – Long Island
CUNYAC: Baruch

Alongside these teams, six programs from the D3VB landscape will be chosen by the selection committee to enter the NCAA tournament. Two are Pool B bids and the remaining four will be Pool C bids. Pool B is composed of independent institutions and institutions that are members of conferences that don’t meet the requirements for automatic qualification. Pool C is composed of the remaining institutions from both Pool A and Pool B.

At-Large Bid: Easy Choices

Based on the conference results, last week’s regional rankings, and the expected ranking shuffle from this week’s results… I believe these will be the first teams selected for the following bids tomorrow morning.

Pool B: Springfield
Pool B: UCSC

Pool C: Messiah
Pool C: Carthage

The Last Two

The above teams were the easy choices. Unlike last year’s final selections, I don’t think the committee will end up needing intense debate to figure out the last two teams. I think there are a few teams on the bubble right now for the last two at-large bids. I’ve identified them below.

  1. St. John Fisher
  2. Southern Virginia
  3. New Paltz

While last year’s awkward triangle between Marymount, Stevenson, and Vassar was incredibly difficult for the committee, I simply don’t see the decision this year being hard at all; I think the last two at-large bids will go to St. John Fisher and Southern Virginia. 

St. John Fisher: Despite losing in the UVC finals, the Cardinals picked up a regionally ranked win against New Paltz in the tournament and have one of the best overall resumes of the last remaining teams. An SOS over .600, an .806 winning % and losing in their conference finals should bump them up from the bottom of the Region II rankings ahead of Southern Virginia and New Paltz. 

Southern Virginia: Losing in your conference semifinal is never a good way to enter selection Sunday, but even more so when the loss comes to an unranked regional opponent (Rutgers-Newark). Despite this, the Knights will still have a win % over .800, a positive regional ranked record at 3-1 with wins over California Lutheran, UCSC, and Juniata. Their wins against Arcadia and Rutgers-Newark give them the common opponent advantage over New Paltz, which should be enough to keep them above the Hawks in Region II. As it stands, I have them getting the last at-large bid. 

NCAA Tournament Pools

Given the field of teams above. This is my guess as to how the pools will shake out tomorrow. I’m most likely wrong, but I think it’s a good guess. 

Pool 1
Southern Virginia
St. John Fisher

Pool 2

Pool 3
UC Santa Cruz
St. Joseph – Long Island

Pool 4
Baldwin Wallace