Here’s a look at all 32 NCAA Division I volleyball conferences and who is and who might make the 64-team NCAA Tournament field when it is announced Sunday night.
The RPI is not the be-all end-all criteria, but there’s no doubt the committee relies on it heavily, so that’s included with every record.
There are eight conferences that do not have tournaments, so the regular-season winner gets the automatic bid. It’s also from those eight where almost all the at-large bids will awarded. The Big West is the only regular-season conference that will get only one team.
For that matter, just three at-large bids will likely go to the 24 conferences that have tournaments in a year in which few mid-majors who were getting in anyway lost.
Most notably, UNLV will get one after being upset in the Mountain West tournament, Western Kentucky is a lock from Conference USA, and Texas State of the Sun Belt is in a strong position to hear its name called. It’s possible there could be a few others.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC: The AAC will get two teams in and they split their matches. UCF is 27-1 and hoping for a top-16 seed with an RPI of 17, and Houston is 28-3 with an RPI of 18.
ACC: It would be hard to imagine this not being a five-team conference with Louisville (26-2, 2 RPI) and Pittsburgh (27-3. 3 RPI), which shared the title, along with Georgia Tech (20-7, 20 RPI), Florida State (19-10, 30 RPI) and Miami (19-10, 34 RPI). Louisville seems like a top-four lock, but the question is where will Pittsburgh get seeded?
BIG 12: Texas (22-1) has been everyone’s favorites since the preseason and the No. 1 RPI team should be the top seed in the tournament. The Big 12 will also get in Baylor (23-6, 16 RPI), which hopes to get a top-16 seed; Kansas (18-10, 29 RPI); Iowa State (19-11, 31 RPI) , the only team to beat Texas; and surprising TCU (16-10, 39 RPI), in for the first time since 2016. TCU, 8-18, 2-14 in 2021, went 11-5 in the Big 12 season.
Of note in the Big 12, Kansas State announced Sunday that is has fired 22nd-year coach Susie Fritz.
BIG TEN: There’s a pretty strong line of demarcation where the top six ends and the rest begin. Wisconsin (25-3, 4 RPI) has won 18 in a row and almost assuredly is a top-four seed. Ohio State (19-9, 7 RPI) was on the path to a top-four seed but then lost its last four matches. Minnesota (20-8, 8 RPI) and Nebraska (24-5, 9 RPI) — which has lost three of five — will also be top-16 hosts. Penn State (24-7, 19 RPI) and Purdue (20-10, 27 RPI) are also in. The Big Ten hopes that Michigan (17-13, 67 RPI) and Northwestern (18-14, 72) have cases, but it would seem unlikely. Michigan went 3-5 to finish the season and Northwestern lost seven in a row before winning its finale.
BIG WEST: Hawai’i (22-6, 36 RPI) won the conference and is the lone Big West team that will get a bid.
PAC-12: This is definitely a five-team conference. But will the Pac-12 get six or seven? The big question marks are Colorado (20-10, 44 RPI), which finished 1-6 against the top 25 but 12-8 inthe league, and UCLA (16-13, 58 RPI), which went 0-7 against top 25 teams and finished 10-10 in the Pac-12. Stanford (24-4, 5 RPI) hopes for a top-four seed; Oregon (23-5, 13 RPI) was the only team to beat Stanford in conference play; USC (21-10, 25 RPI); Washington State (22-9, 35 RPI) and Washington (20-10, 37 RPI) will all be in.
SEC: The SEC could be the committee’s sticky wicket. Co-winners Kentucky (20-7, 10 RPI) and Florida (23-5, 11 RPI) will be top 16 seeds. Arkansas (20-8, 23 RPI) and Georgia (22-7, 38 RPI) are locks. LSU (15-13, 48 RPI) was strong early but the Tigers have lost five of seven. Auburn (21-8, 50 RPI) finished the season 3-6. The SEC also hopes that Tennessee (17-13, 56 RPI) has a case.
Of note in the SEC, Missouri announced Sunday that seventh-year coach Josh Taylor has been fired.
WEST COAST: The big elephant in the committee room is San Diego (27-1, 6 RPI). Do the Toreros, who went 9-1 against top 50 teams and lost only to Louisville, get a top-seed? BYU (21-6, 26 RPI) is in for sure and, probably is Pepperdine (19-10, 45). Can Loyola Marymount (18-9, 49 RPI) make it a fourth? LMU lost twice each to USD and BYU and beat Pepperdine twice.
Conference tournament winners
AMERICA EAST: UMBC (16-8) is in the NCAA for the third year in a row. The Retrievers finished sason in the AE. UMBC has a RPI of 69 and was 1-1 against top-25 teams, beating James Madison of the Sun Belt, which is 21 in the RPI.
ATLANTIC 10: Loyola Chicago (25-8) made the move from the Missouri Valley and dominated the A10, winning the regular. season and the tournament. Loyola, which has an RPI of 74, is back in the tournament for the first time since 2005.
ASUN: FGCU (26-6) finished second in the regular-season and beat top-seeded Liberty for the title. FGCU has an RPI of 33. FGCU beat Texas Tech in five in the first round last year before losing to Wisconsin.
BIG EAST: Creighton beat Marquette in the conference tournament, but both will not only be in the tournament, both should be top-16 hosts. Marquette (26-2) has an RPI of 13 and Creighton (25-4) has an RPI of 15).
BIG SKY: Northern Colorado (22-8) won the regular season and the tournament. The Bears are No. 89 in the RPI but have won 14 in a row.
BIG SOUTH: High Point (23-9) beat Campbell in the tourney to get back to the tournament after losing to Campbell last year. High Point has an RPI of 52.
CAA: Towson (29-1) was good no matter what, because the Tigers have an RPI of 32. They’ve won 11 in a row and have been on everyone’s radar since winning at Pittsburgh in September. Towson’s only loss was in four at Elon.
CONFERENCE USA: The incredible battles between Rice and Western Kentucky are cemented in C-USA lore. Rice (26-3) won the tourney title and, at No. 14 in the RPI, could host. WKU (28-3) is 22 in the RPI. WKU is 7-14 in NCAA play.
HORIZON: Wright State (28-3) is on a 23-match winning streak. The Huskies and first-year coach Trav Green went through both the league and conference tournament unbeaten. Their RPI is 48.
IVY: Yale is another team that was in good shape going into the league tournament. But the Bulldogs, 22 in the RPI, won and are back in the tournament for the first time since 2018.
MAAC: This was the biggest surprise of the postseason when sixth-seeded Quinnipiac (14-14, 258 RPI) upset top-seeded and perennial favorite Fairfield in the conference tournament. Quinnipiac is in for the first time.
MAC: Bowling Green (22-9, 42 RPI) beat Ball State (24-8, 51 RPI) in the conference final in a match between the two division winners. Can Ball State get an at-large? Slim chance.
MEAC: Delaware State (23-6) has an RPI of 195. This is the program’s first NCAA appearance.
MISSOURI VALLEY: Northern Iowa (26-7) dominated the regular season and then survived a tough five-setter with Drake in the tourney final. UNI is 41 in the RPI and would have gotten a bid, but can Drake at 52? Not likely.
MOUNTAIN WEST: The Mountain West became the first mid-major conference that would have been a probably one-bid league turned into a two-bid with the upset of UNLV (26-4, 24 RPI) in the conference semifinals by eventual winner Utah State (22-10, 46 RPI). Colorado State (19-11, 55 RPI) is going to be close if it doesn’t get in.
NEC: Third-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson (17-15) upset perennial favorite and top-seeded Sacred Heart (21-10) in the tourney final and is in the NCAA for the first time. FDU has a first-year coach in David Nguyen. His team has an RPI of 244, highest in the field.
OHIO VALLEY: Tennessee State (19-15) was the sixth seed in the tournament but won the OVC bid to get to the NCAA Tournament for the first time sinc 2007. TSU’s RPI is 197.
PATRIOT: Colgate (24-5) went back-to-back by beating Navy in five in the conference final. The Red Raiders are in the NCAA for the fifth time but have never won a match. Their RPI is 62.
SOCON: While Furman was wrecking the other side of the bracket, second-seeded Samford (19-12) was taking care of business and then swept the eighth-seeded Paladins for the title and the bid. Samford has an RPI of 123 and is back in the tournament for seventh time overall and fourth in five years. It has never won an NCAA match.
SOUTHLAND: Southeastern Louisiana (25-7) is in for the first time after the second-seeded Lions knocked off HCU in the tourney final. The Lions have an RPI of 139.
SUMMIT: South Dakota (29-3, 40 RPI) probably would have gotten a bid had it not swept Omaha in the tourney final, but it did and now NCAA kills leader Elizabeth Juhnke (660 kills, 5.37/set) gets to play on the national stage for the third year in a row.
SUN BELT: It’s hard to imagine that this is not a two-bid league. Newcomer James Madison (24-4) won the conference tournament by beating Texas State (24-7) in a four-set battle of division winners. JMU has an RPI of 21 so it would have been in regardless, but Texas State is at 43. It beat TCU this season and split with JMU in the regular season.
SWAC: Florida A&M (21-12) made it two for two since joining the SWAC. The Rattlers swept all three of their tourney matches. They have an RPI of 211.
WAC: Stephen F. Austin (26-4) was a perennial favorite in the Southland. Now, in its second year in the WAC, it will represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament. It’s the seventh appearance for the program, which beat Alabama in the 2006 NCAA tourney. SFA has an RPI of 54.