Thoughts, notes and some analysis of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament

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This past August 15 I launched DestinationVolleyball.com. It was two weeks before the start of the NCAA women’s season.

The response to the site has been fantastic and this week we will be giving you more content than you can imagine, starting with the story about Harvard that went up this morning.

Starting in January DestinationVolleyball.com will get even bigger and better, but in the meantime all our focus the next three weeks will be on the NCAA women’s game.

Accordingly, this week we’ll have video chats plus more stories about a handful of the teams in the NCAA Tournament you might not know much about.

But, here we are, the morning after the selection show, and let’s start with:

Is there a more intriguing first-round match-up than Oregon at Wisconsin? Neither team can be happy about such a tough opening match. Oregon is happy to be in, of course, considering it had a 53 RPI. And Wisconsin knows you have to play six tough matches to win it all, but this one is tougher than normal for the No. 6 seed in the tournament.

There are normally very few first-round upsets, but this field has unpredictability written all over it.

There are some others that have my attention, including:

— Ohio-BYU (Ohio’s pretty good),

— Missouri-Missouri State (this one could be fun),

— Loyola Marymount-Colorado State (two evenly matched teams)

— Michigan State-Arkansas State (dying to see if ASU is for real),

— Arizona-Western Kentucky (same with WKU),

— Wichita State-Kanas State (great in-state match-up),

— Southern Illinois-Illinois (my alma mater — SIU — against one of my favorite teams),

— SMU-Purdue (is SMU for real?),

— Michigan-Santa Clara,

— Arizona State-Florida State (oh, what could have been had Macey Gardner not gotten hurt).

— By the way, the Missouri Valley has four teams in, same as the SEC, which, you may recall, had a miserable performance in 2014, and the ACC.

All that being said, let me say this about that:

The national semifinals (you can’t call it the Final Four, because the NCAA has that trademarked for men’s basketball) will consist of teams from either the Big Ten, Pac-12, Texas or Florida or Hawaii.

There will be some great early rounds matches and certainly some upsets, but when push comes to shove in the regional finals, I’ll be stunned if a sleeper gets to Omaha.

They were the champions

The ESPNU broadcast Sunday night referred to eight teams of the the 10 that have won it all being in the tournament, but never mentioned the other two. They are Pacific and Long Beach State.

Courtesy of the NCAA:

During the previous 34 years of the championship 10 schools have won a national title, eight of which earned a place in this year’s bracket.

Previous winners making the field are: UCLA (1984, 1990, 91, 2011), University of Hawaii, Manoa (1982, 83, 87), Nebraska (1995, 2000, 06), Southern California (1981, 2002, 03), Stanford (1992, 94, 96, 97, 2001, 04), Penn State (1999, 2007, 08, 09, 10, 13, 14), Texas (1988, 2012) and  University of Washington (2005).

So let us tell you that Pacific won it all in 1985 and ‘86; Long Beach in 1972, ’73, 1989, 1993 and ‘98.

Speaking of Long Beach, the broadcast never mentioned the teams that could have been in the discussion but were left out, including Northwestern (42 RPI), Pitt (47), Wyoming (48), Syracuse (61), Long Beach (63).

Random geography

— The state of Texas got five teams, the aforementioned Texas and TCU, plus SMU, Texas A&M and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The two Texas A&Ms play each other, which has to be some kind of first.

— Ohio has four in Dayton, Cleveland State, Ohio State and Ohio

— The state of Kansas has K-State, Kansas, Wichita State

— Kentucky has Louisville, Kentucky, Western Kentucky,

— Pennsylvania has Villanova, Robert Morris and Penn State

— Arizona has only three Division I schools and all are in, Northern Arizona, Arizona and Arizona State

— The District of Columbia — think about that — has Howard and American

— California has the most with six in USC, San Diego, LMU, Stanford, Santa Clara, UCLA,

— One city has three teams: Los Angeles has Loyola Marymount, USC and UCLA.

— Nashville has two teams in Belmont and Lipscomb (story about those teams coming here later this week) while the Dallas area has TCU (Fort Worth) and SMU (Highland Park),

— There is one team in from Mississippi and the bet here is that Jackson State, the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion, doesn’t score 20 points total in its trip to Minnesota. FYI, J-State was ranked 300th of 334 in the last RPI and has a 15-21 record.

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