D III Women's Volleyball

A source for NCAA Division III women's volleyball info and opinion, with a focus on the Midwest and Central regions

Ricky Nelson’s 2014 projected field of 64

This is what I think the field should be. History has shown that this not what it will be.

My yearly at-large matches with the national selection committee.
2013: 16-of-21
2012: 19-of-22
2011: 19-of-22
2010: 19-of-21
2009: 19-of-22
2008: 20-of-23

The actual tournament field will be revealed during an online selection show on Monday at 10 a.m. central.

Pool A (44)
Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference: Franciscan
American Southwest Conference: Mary Hardin-Baylor
Capital Athletic Conference: Christopher Newport
Centennial Conference: Franklin & Marshall
City University of New York Athletic Conference: Hunter
College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin: Carthage
Colonial States Athletic Conference: Cabrini
Commonwealth Coast Conference: Roger Williams
Commonwealth Conference: Stevenson
Empire 8: Stevens
Freedom Conference: Eastern
Great Northeast Athletic Conference: Rivier
Great South Athletic Conference: Salem
Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference: Bluffton
Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Coe
Landmark Conference: Juniata
Liberty League: Clarkson
Little East Conference: Western Connecticut State
Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference: Framingham State
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association: Calvin
Midwest Conference: Cornell
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: St. Thomas
New England Collegiate Conference: Regis
New England Small College Athletic Conference: Williams
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletics Conference: Babson
New Jersey Athletic Conference: Richard Stockton
North Atlantic Conference: Colby-Sawyer
North Coast Athletic Conference: Wittenberg
North Eastern Athletic Conference: Gallaudet
Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference: Dominican
Northwest Conference: Whitworth
Ohio Athletic Conference: Mount Union
Old Dominion Athletic Conference: Washington and Lee
Presidents’ Athletic Conference: Thomas More
Skyline Conference: Sage
Southern Athletic Association: Hendrix
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Cal Lutheran
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference: Trinity (Texas)
St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Webster
State University of New York Athletic Conference: New Paltz State
University Athletic Association: Emory
Upper Midwest Conference: Northwestern
USA South Athletic Conference: Maryville
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Pool C (20)
Colorado College
La Verne
Nebraska Wesleyan
Pacific Lutheran
Saint Benedict
Southwestern Tufts
Wartburg MIT
Washington-St. Louis
Wisconsin Oshkosh

My deciding factor was signature wins. They are all very close near the end. Always are. I think the best way to separate close teams – when schedule strength, common opponents, head-to-head, etc., have not created clear separation – is to see how they fared against top competition. Not all SOS figures, results against ranked opponents and divisional records are created equal.

My selected teams have beaten top competition, which is what we’re down to now. There’s a huge difference between a team that very well could beat some of the best and a team that has already beaten some of the best. Again, when other criteria are relatively equal.

Ten teams the NCAA may select instead: MIT; John Carroll; UMass Boston; Tufts; Randolph-Macon; Lebanon Valley; Carnegie Mellon; Nazareth; Texas Dallas; Birmingham-Southern.

While we await official word from Indianapolis, tell me where I’m wrong. I’ll be back online near 5 central.

-Ricky Nelson


Written by Ricky Nelson

November 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

18 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. We differ on 4 teams. Bowdoin, Haverford, Springfield and Wartburg. I didn’t look close enough at Bowdoin and Wartburg but I knew you would do that to me. I had John Carroll, MIT, Randolph Macon and Mellon. But I was stuck on the last 4 and these were the 4. I did factor in location a little in the end.

    Which was your bubble team?


    November 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm

  2. My last four were Wartburg, Oshkosh, Haverford and Springfield. Similar wavelength.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm

  3. New England: Bowdoin beat 4 ranked teams in regions outside NE and NY including Wisc-Whitewater. No other NE team won even one! Tufts should be next from NE. Coming on strong at end. MIT played a VERY weak schedule. Springfield and Umass-Boston were up and down and had double digit loses and have already declared their seasons over on their sites.


    November 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

  4. I was asking teams toward the end to give me a good reason (or reasons) to put them in. Springfield’s wins over Bowdoin and Clarkson separated the Pride from the pack in my eyes.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm

  5. Just a litlle fyi on umass boston. We had a tough schedule if you look and won every game in september all 12. Then we had two major injuries and so adjusted and then every single girl on the team got very sick for several weeks, strep, pneumonia, sinus infections so lots of antibotics. not easy to play on and why we had a few weeks of struggles. We came back and won all conference games 7-0 first place. We played top teams in Atlanta that won auto bid. They choose teams harder to play at a level that they will play at ncaa finals. We ended up

    5th in final 8 the last two years. We have one senior, two juniors, and we struggled this last weekend, which happens. The end of season comment was frustration by the coach.


    November 9, 2014 at 5:52 pm

  6. Any guesses on the 8 regional hosts?


    November 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm

  7. OK, I want a do-over on Bowdoin! I went back to my notes and I had them as an AQ. Not sure why. I’ll replace MIT (my last selection) with Bowdoin for those keeping score at home. :-)

    Always interesting to read from other blog readers their thoughts on schools. In our little DIII world, you really don’t get news on teams outside of your region. Talking to a lot of parents and coaches this season, it’s amazing some of these schools could even field a team at times with the injuries the girls suffer. We forget how much sacrifice goes into playing any sport at a college level.

    Best of luck to all of your teams!


    November 9, 2014 at 6:38 pm

  8. No host guesses this year. Too many moving parts. Do you have hunches?

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2014 at 6:42 pm

  9. I’m not very knowledgeable about teams outside the Great Lakes region, so I don’t want to hazard any ill-informed guesses.

    I’m guessing that Calvin will host the GL region, although I would not put it past the committee if Wittenberg hosted.

    I don’t see any Midwest team submitting a Thurs-Sat bid like Elmhurst did last year, which means #1, #2, and #4 most likely will all be in the same regional. URGH!!!


    November 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm

  10. I will say Calvin is a safe bet. Beyond that, there are too many options.
    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm

  11. I want to reiterate that this is what I think the field should be. I’m not predicting the NCAA’s selections.
    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm

  12. An example: Do I think the committee will select three teams that are not in the third regional rankings, including one that has not been ranked all year? No, but I think they belong.
    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm

  13. I appreciate that you put a large emphasis on wins rather than the potential to win. I think that makes sense. However, I think you could consider the date the win took place a bit more. For example, Neb. Wes. beat Wash U 3-0 the FIRST weekend of the season and since then you have had them on a pedestal and I feel like a lot of that is because of that win. I think they are a good team just would have liked to see them play some more teams. A ton changes from Sept. 1st to Nov. 10th. Just a thought on not valuing ALL wins so highly.

    I’m not sure what your thoughts are on the New England and New York regions, but I think they are hands down the 2 weakest regions. That being said, I understand 16 teams need to be in those regionals. CMU seems like the most obvious and deserving pick. Can you explain why you didn’t pick them? While I haven’t looked at all the schedules of the teams up north, I can’t imagine that any of them played a harder schedule than Mellon (DePauw (W), Mount Union (W), Emory (L in 5), Chicago (W)…Talk about SIGNATURE wins that should count!!! And they played a ton more outside of their region that they won and got experience from. Also, they were 4th in the UAA which is one of the toughest conferences in d3.

    Bowdion and Springfield did not do anything near to this AND did not even finish in their conference finals (Springfield didn’t even make is out of the quarters). Bowdion played 1 weekend where they went to Emory and had some good wins but only 1…Springfield had NONE!!!

    Also, just wondering what your thoughts are about Clarkson being ranked so highly all season…deserved?

    I love your blog! Thanks for creating some good discussion!


    November 10, 2014 at 12:03 am

  14. Thanks for the feedback.

    NWU also beat CNU and Colorado. Being in an NAIA conference allows about three weekends per year devoted to D III. I agree with the regional rankings on NWU. I admit that not many people think the Prairie Wolves are a top-10 team. But some of those people also have no qualms putting WUSTL and CNU in the top 10. I’ve also seen NWU play quite a few times. About half of NWU’s NAIA conference has been ranked this year. So while NWU shined brightly in D III this year, the P-Wolves try to tread water the rest of the year against ranked scholarship programs. They could be one-and-done as a high seed next week, but it won’t be because they’re not a very, very good team. My eyes say they’re a top-five D III team. That opinion isn’t shared by many. And I understand that. They are a myth or a ghost to most people associated with D III. I understand that too.

    Mellon was close. For me it was how the Tartans closed the season. The regional rankings reflected that, too. While CMU played a great schedule, just being in the UAA is a built-in advantage in that regard. D III volleyball decision makers have discussed how to interpret the UAA’s inherent scheduling advantage in the recent past. I’m not saying CMU didn’t do good things outside the UAA. Great wins over Mount and DePauw and the Guisler field was strong, but the last 25 percent of the season is considered. Another good win after September would certainly have helped. In my projections, that is. Depending on whose place CMU would take over my teams, I wouldn’t be shocked if CMU got a bid. The Tartans are definitely in the conversation. Then again I’d be pretty surprised.

    Bowdoin also beat a pretty good UW-Whitewater team and every one of its New England peers. To a lesser extent, Springfield beat some good teams, too. Certainly doesn’t help when you don’t win your first postseason match. I’m not sold on Springfield getting in, but I think it’s deserved. It depends on what set of criteria you value most.

    I think Clarkson has been overrated in the weekly poll all season. However, I do think Clarkson deserves to be ranked atop the New York Region.

    It’s an empirical fact that New York and New England have lagged behind the others. There are quality teams in both, but not relative to the entire division. Some other regions are very top-heavy, but those regions have produced national champions or viable contenders on a yearly basis.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 10, 2014 at 12:36 am

  15. This will be the second year of selections under the rewritten criteria. For those who have not seen the manual they took the word “region” completely out of the text and replaced it with “Division III”. Ricky do you agree that this was done to keep bids away from NE and NY? Or at least force them to get out of region if they want an at-large bid.
    Last year NE got 1 and NY 2, and one NY bid was forced to New Paltz after they blew their conference final. I also tend to think the committee looks at NE and NY as 1 big region. This was after 4 bids total for NE/NY in 2011(2 pool C and 2 pool B) and 2012(4 pool C).

    On a side note the UAA got 4 bids in 2013 under the new criteria – Emory, Wash U, Mellon, and NYU (Chicago got auto).


    November 10, 2014 at 5:37 am

  16. I don’t think limiting NE and NY bids was a factor in making all matches count, but it has had that effect in volleyball so far. I think it was more to do with the sometimes arcane regional designations that we had.

    As a fan, I love “a game is a game.” You’re still mandated to play 70 percent in-region, so the regional structure and importance isn’t wiped away. And at the same time, a regular-season match between Cal Lutheran and Calvin, if it ever happens, will actually mean something.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 10, 2014 at 9:51 am

  17. Bids by Region and League

    Midwest 5, Central 4, West 4, New England 4, Great Lakes 2, Mid-Atlantic 1, New York 0, South 0

    Midwest: Iowa&Wisc 2, WIAC 2, UAA (1 of 2)
    Central: MN IAC 2, Independent 1, UAA (1 of 2)
    West: SCIAC 2, Northwest 1, Southern CAC 1
    New England: NESCAC 2, NEWMAC 2
    Great lakes: MIAC 1, NCAC 1
    Mid-Atlantic: Centennial 1


    November 11, 2014 at 7:57 am

  18. Thank you for the breakdown.

    NE at-large bids in the recent past.
    2013: 1
    2012: 3
    2011: 2
    2010: 3
    2009: 1
    2008: 2

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 11, 2014 at 8:51 am

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: