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 2015 projected field of 64

This is what I think the field should be when it is revealed via an online selection show at 10 a.m. central tomorrow.

The committee and I have never synced up completely with our selections, so don’t fret, bubble teams. If you don’t see your name below, chances are you’ll be playing next week anyway.

My yearly at-large matches with the national selection committee:
2014: 18 of 20
2013: 16 of 21
2012: 19 of 22
2011: 19 of 22
2010: 19 of 21
2009: 19 of 22
2008: 20 of 23

Pool A (44)
Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference: Franciscan
American Southwest Conference: Texas Dallas
Capital Athletic Conference: Christopher Newport
Centennial Conference: McDaniel
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: Ithaca
Freedom Conference: Eastern
Great Northeast Athletic Conference: Johnson & Wales
Great South Athletic Conference: UC Santa Cruz
Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference: Bluffton
Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Wartburg
Landmark Conference: Juniata
Liberty League: Clarkson
Little East Conference: UMass Boston
Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference: Framingham State
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association: Calvin
Midwest Conference: Cornell
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Gustavus Adolphus
New England Collegiate Conference: Regis
New England Small College Athletic Conference: Bowdoin
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletics Conference: Babson
New Jersey Athletic Conference: 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: Heidelberg
Old Dominion Athletic Conference: Randolph-Macon
Presidents’ Athletic Conference: Thomas More
Skyline Conference: Mount Saint Vincent
Southern Athletic Association: Hendrix
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference: Southwestern
St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Greenville
State University of New York Athletic Conference: Brockport
University Athletic Association: Washington-St. Louis
Upper Midwest Conference: Northwestern
USA South Athletic Conference: Covenant
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Wisconsin-Whitewater

Pool B (0)

Pool C (20)
Cal Lutheran
Colorado College
East Texas Baptist Mary Washington
Illinois Wesleyan
La Verne Case Western Reserve
Saint Benedict
Tufts Williams
Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Wisconsin-La Crosse
Wisconsin-Oshkosh Bethel
Wisconsin-Stevens Point

I started with 10 so-called locks and 26 contenders for the last 10 spots. I still could go either way on the final handful of spots (hello there, Bethel, Williams, etc.).

As always, I lean toward signature wins as a tiebreaker when things are close. This is the NCAA Championship. What have teams done to prove they belong? I think a good way to answer that question and to parse the field of contenders – again, when other criteria are relatively close –  is the fact that there are several candidates that could beat the best teams are there are also several candidates that have beaten some of the best teams. Minimizing questionable losses also helps a team’s stock in my eyes.

The committee has the freedom – I’ll go so far as to say the responsibility – to factor wins against upper-tier ranked teams more so than lower-ranked teams. Not all results against regionally ranked teams are created equal, nor should they be treated as such. In a similar vein, not all strength-of-schedule figures are created equally.

The criterion is “results versus Division III ranked teams as established by the rankings at the time of selection” and not “winning percentage” or “number of wins” versus ranked teams. The term is “results” for a reason. Art is necessary alongside the science of the selection process, and verbiage within the stated criteria allows for that art.

And no, five teams from one conference is not unprecedented. It happened as recently as 2013, when the UAA received five bids (Pool A: Chicago; Pool C: Emory; Mellon; NYU; WUSTL).

That’s the rationale for my predicted field. All this written, I’m certain that the committee will choose a different field. If nothing else, this gave you something to read before tomorrow’s selection show. I hope your team gets a bid.

-Ricky Nelson


Written by Ricky Nelson

November 8, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

19 Responses

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  1. LOVE this post every year and all the hard work you do Ricky!!!!!

    I don’t have Amherst, ETBU, Springfield and Tufts. In their place are Bethel, CWRU, Ohio Wesleyan and Union.

    I struggled leaving Springfield off and I think you’ll be right on this. In the end, New England is represented better in your rankings than mine. I think I made the same mistake last year, too.

    I don’t think ETBU will make it. They had it in the bag but their two bad losses in their tournament coupled with Santa Cruz winning the GSAC will force them out. The only way they stay is if the NCAA wants to have the regional in Texas. La Verne benefits BIG here as they tanked at the end of the year. Travel budget helps the West here because the NCAA won’t ship a team to California outside the region.

    Case Western is my long shot but I couldn’t get Chicago in without getting CWRU in, too. This will come down to the ordering of the RAC. If Great Lakes RAC are smart they will move them up in their final ranking. If they place them behind Ohio Northern then they are doomed.

    Don’t see how they can put St. Ben in over Bethel. I have both.

    I tried really hard not to give so many spots to the Midwest but couldn’t do it. Hoping it works out for your girls.

    Anyway, I know that I will be more wrong than Ricky but exciting times! Loved watching a few championship points from around the country. Go McDaniel…big long shot there!


    November 8, 2015 at 4:35 pm

  2. Several things make me think my field will not match the one that’s announced tomorrow.

    It shouldn’t matter that I did not dole out an at-large to two regions, but it’s a human process. Hard to believe that the M-A and/or NY regions get passed over for 20 rounds. My colorful Excel sheets suggest they could be passed over.

    My field would also cost quite a bit of money. So there’s that.

    Bethel and I have a history. At this point the Royals faithful are probably hoping I have BU on the outside. I’ve certainly been wrong about Bethel’s fate, but a split against CSB was not enough to make it a “both or neither” call in my eyes.

    McDaniel was a fun one today, although I admit I was rooting for the M*A*S*H unit of Johns Hopkins this weekend. I also enjoyed the energy at the Bowdoin and Hendrix gyms today.


    Ricky Nelson

    November 8, 2015 at 5:00 pm

  3. Hey Ricky,
    Bethel supporter here. New to your blog this year and have really enjoyed it. You certainly have been at this longer than I have and definitely more familiar with the process than I am, so I won’t argue with you. But let’s take a look at Bethel’s and St. Ben’s resume’s.
    Starting with signature wins. Apart from the wins against each other looks like you would say that St. Ben’s has signature wins against Tufts and Wartburg, while Bethel probably can only claim Northwestern at best.
    Regarding questionable losses Bethel has Augustana. You might equate Bethel’s loss to LaCrosse to St. Ben’s loss to Eastern. St. Ben’s would have questionable losses to Coe, Northwestern, St. Kates, and Carleton.
    Here is where I see a big advantage to Bethel in that they defeated 3 of those teams.
    Also, does owing the victory in the most recent meeting carry any significance? I guess I would say it does, but to others maybe not.
    I will hang up and listen.


    November 8, 2015 at 7:10 pm

  4. I do think a win in the playoffs carries a bit more weight than the regular season.

    CSB has a ridiculous strength of schedule and better wins. The UNW results certainly help BU.

    Bethel narrowed the gap with CSB, whose losses to Carleton and St. Kate’s don’t help, but I didn’t see the playoff win as enough when factored with other criteria. CSB’s resume is fantastic.

    It does not have to be one or the other, but I do think CSB is a bit safer than Bethel.

    In the end I chose East Texas Baptist as my last team over Bethel and two others. That’s well within the margin of error, and I don’t think Bethel’s inclusion in tomorrow’s announcement would be a mistake. The Royals are directly on the fault line. There are worse places to be.

    BU was in this exact position in 2011. I had the Royals as the first team on the outside that year. Here’s how that worked out:

    Good luck.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 8, 2015 at 7:45 pm

  5. The 5 UAA teams made the tournament in 2010 and 3 of them were in the final 8. Why 5 Wisconsin teams and not at least one more UAA team?


    November 8, 2015 at 7:49 pm

  6. In my opinion, the last WIAC team in is Oshkosh and my next UAA team would be Case. I think Oshkosh has a better overall resume than Case. Those wins over Chicago certainly stick out though.

    However, Case was one of my first three out of the field. If CWRU hears its name tomorrow, you’ll get no complaints from me. Depending on whose place Case takes, of course.

    In no way am I making a declaration with my field saying, “The WIAC is better than the UAA.” That never entered my mind. I’m not saying anything more than, “These are the 20 teams I think should make the field. Holy cow! The WIAC looks like it should get five teams. [Looks through archives] Oh, five teams is nowhere near unique.”


    Ricky Nelson

    November 8, 2015 at 8:00 pm

  7. Have a daughter that played at UAA school (already In) and echo the previous post. UAA got 5 in tournament 2010 & 2013 and deserve 4 this year. Top 5 in UAA have all been ranked in Top 25 at one time this year and Wash U & Emory are both in Top 3 which makes for a couple “near automatic” losses when rest of conference plays them.
    . Chicago had very good early season wins (Hope, Wisc. SP, Wisc. EC ) that hopefully offsets their 6-8 record over last 14 games. Case Western did beat Chicago twice head to head (3-0 in regular season & 3-1 in UAA third place match) and finished ahead of Chicago both in conference play and conference tournament. If only 3 UAA teams get in then I would give a nod to Case based on the 2 head-to-head wins, but I would put both in ahead of all 4 New England schools you picked for Pool C. I have no problem with 5 Wisconsin teams, but 4 UAA teams need to be selected.


    November 8, 2015 at 8:43 pm

  8. Also, I have enjoyed reading your commentary and dedication in covering D3 volleyball over the last 7 years. Even though daughter graduated a couple years back I still come to your website to get a read on what is happening in the Midwest. Many thanks.


    November 8, 2015 at 8:49 pm

  9. That is great. Thank you very much!

    You very well may be correct about Case. Right in the mix for sure. History says that’s a good spot to be. The committee and I have not been like-minded with the last 2-3 berths.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

  10. One thing to point out and Ricky can correct me if I’m wrong, but CWRU may never get a chance to be considered. If the RAC places them behind Ohio Northern and to a lesser extent Ohio Wesleyan then those schools have to (strike that) should be selected before Case. In the last regional ranking, this was the case (no pun intended). When I looked at that region earlier today, that was something that jumped out at me. I think CWRU makes it, but the RAC can mess that up with their final ranking.


    November 8, 2015 at 9:48 pm

  11. Certainly the UAA is unique with respect to geography and crossing regions with their 8 schools. The 8 schools are in 7 different regions (nobody in West, 2 in NY region). Don’t know if that helps or hurts UAA teams when selection Monday rolls around. Maybe strength of schedule will help Chicago & Case vs. the New England teams also “on the bubble”.


    November 8, 2015 at 11:57 pm

  12. It helps on selection day. It wasn’t long ago that there were proposals aimed at trying to specifically curb the UAA’s perceived advantages the league has/had in the selection process.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 12:16 am

  13. Ricky,

    Appreciate all the work you do to keep us up to date with D3 volleyball!

    One comment about Chicago – their setter was out for the UAA championships and they’re clearly a different team without her. I’m not sure of her status for NCAA if they get selected.

    WUSTL / Emory in the UAA championship was another great match. It will be interesting to see if the selection committee sets them up on opposite sides of the bracket. While they’re not locks to get to the finals, if they did and past history continues, it would be a great finish to 2015.

    I always find the D3 selection and seeding process to be a frustrating one. You would hope that they would try to get the 8 best teams into the finals but with the $$$ limitations that never happens. With their billion dollar TV contracts for D1 football and basketball I’ll never understand where all that money goes.


    November 9, 2015 at 6:38 am

  14. Ricky,

    to echo everyone else thanks for a great job on all this. I do not see 4 NE bids, I am guessing 2. I hope you are right and I am wrong. It was going to be very simple with the loser of MIT/Springfield and Bowdoin/Amherst getting bids. That would have gotten the top 4 ranked teams in NE in the tournament. Plus I think NE get’s less this year after a generous 4 last year, when the NCAA got bus tickets for Springfield instead of plane tickets for southwestern (Texas).

    I wish we got to see the top secret final poll but going by the last poll we see the 5th ranked team in the CE region usually gets in, so I see Bethel in. I also think they don’t want to shutout NY 2 years in a row and think Union will get a bid, they were 2-1 against NESCAC schools.

    The “double upset” in the NEWMAC is going to be laid at the feet of the NESCAC unfortunately with Amherst not getting a bid they should. Tufts did beat Eastern but no NESCAC team that loses in the quarterfinals has ever got a bid. UAA and Midwest are too strong this year.

    What UC Santa Cruz has done just bugs me. They should have to ride a bus to the south region and buy their own tickets.


    November 9, 2015 at 8:50 am

  15. Jose,
    Division III championships were expended to their present structure thanks to the March Madness TV contracts. D III gets about 2 percent of that contract and 75 percent of that 2 percent (roughly $28 million) is used to fund championships in our division.

    Agreed, today is an anxious one.


    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 9:35 am

  16. NED3,
    Your scenarios are highly likely. Four NE bids are admittedly the rosiest situation in my crystal ball. There were results involving NE teams against MW/C teams that make four bids possible in my mind.


    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 9:39 am

  17. Just a personal note to myself for next year in hopes I do better guessing the field. Like Ricky I missed on La Verne and Oshkosh. I also missed on Union and Ohio Wesleyan.

    Remember to select up to 4 at-large New England teams and stop picking an at-large from New York. Make sure you pick Springfield. You always leave them off. Oh, and pick Williams regardless of ranking/record. NCAA willing to fly teams into West but not out of West.

    Oh, and I see the workout routine you started this past year is working wonders. Good job. Congrats on that big Power Ball Lotto win, too.


    November 9, 2015 at 1:19 pm

  18. Ricky, curious as to what proposals were considered to deal with the UAA. Thanks.


    November 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm

  19. I never saw the specifics. Maybe someone else can fill in the blanks. I remember seeing it in either a championship memo or agenda.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 11:14 pm

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