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 2016 projected field of 64

This is what I think the field should be when it is revealed via an online selection show at 11:30 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. Another caveat is that I do not know for sure whether there will be a Pool B bid. My sense is that there will not be sufficient numbers for a Pool B bid this year.

My yearly at-large matches with the national selection committee:
2015: 16 of 20
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 (43)
Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference: Pittsburgh Bradford
American Southwest Conference: Texas Dallas
Capital Athletic Conference: Mary Washington
Centennial Conference: Johns Hopkins
City University of New York Athletic Conference: Hunter
College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin: Millikin
Colonial States Athletic Conference: Cabrini
Commonwealth Coast Conference: Endicott
Commonwealth Conference: Stevenson
Empire 8 Athletic Conference: Ithaca
Freedom Conference: Eastern
Great Northeast Athletic Conference: Johnson & Wales
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: Hope
Midwest Conference: St. Norbert
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Gustavus Adolphus
New England Collegiate Conference: Regis
New England Small College Athletic Conference: Middlebury
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletics Conference: MIT
New Jersey Athletic Conference: Montclair State
North Atlantic Conference: Maine Maritime
North Coast Athletic Conference: Wittenberg
North Eastern Athletic Conference: Gallaudet
Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference: Concordia Wisconsin
Northwest Conference: Whitworth
Ohio Athletic Conference: Ohio Northern
Old Dominion Athletic Conference: Randolph-Macon
Presidents’ Athletic Conference: Bethany
Skyline Conference: Farmingdale State
Southern Athletic Association: Hendrix
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Cal Lutheran
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference: Trinity (Texas)
St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Greenville
State University of New York Athletic Conference: Brockport
University Athletic Association: Emory
Upper Midwest Conference: Northwestern
USA South Athletic Conference: Meredith
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Wisconsin-Whitewater

Pool B (0)
[None] New Rochelle

Pool C (21)
Augsburg Clark
Carnegie Mellon
Christopher Newport
Colorado College
Illinois Wesleyan Stevens
La Verne
St. Thomas
Washington-St. Louis
Wisconsin-Eau Claire Ramapo
Wisconsin-La Crosse
Wisconsin-Stevens Point Susquehanna

Among the teams I considered for the last bid were Berry, Stevens, Susquehanna and Bethel. I went with Illinois Wesleyan instead. However, if there are nine teams available in Pool B, the list of Pool C’s will be whittled to 20 anyway, according to my math.

I tend to 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” nor “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.

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 6, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

41 Responses

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  1. Just got home from Tufts. I have now over the years watched them play 3 finals at home and lose all 3. This one was particularly painful, they started well, and then just let it slip away.

    Just looked at the NE/NY compares and I think you are right, but, would the committee shut the NY region out 3 years in a row?


    November 6, 2016 at 3:36 pm

  2. NED3VballFan,
    Humans are selecting the teams, so I’d understand the impulse to not overlook an entire region once again. I just couldn’t get Stevens in there. We’ll see.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 6, 2016 at 3:44 pm

  3. Great list of teams, Ricky.

    I’m going to disagree on Augsburg and Illinois Wesleyan. Give me Stevens and Berry, instead.

    I know where the RAC has Augsburg ranked but they ended the season with 4 straight losses and three of those are not ranked in their regions. Great conference play but recent losses should move them down the Central rankings and out of the tournament. I really struggled putting five WIAC teams in the tournament. I really struggled putting Chicago in the tournament. In the end, I couldn’t find another alternative, but I can’t justify Illinois Wesleyan. I’m not in love with Stevens or Berry and choosing New York and South teams over other regions is not a smart bet but that is where my money is at. If travel (flying) is an issue then I could see Illinois Wesleyan getting in over Berry, but we’re always told travel isn’t considered before teams are selected. CNU is another pick I’m not confident on.

    One question…as you went through the bubble teams (both selected and not selected) did you feel that their resumes were more lacking than past years? In the past, it hurt me to not select teams and this year it hurt me to add them.


    November 6, 2016 at 8:15 pm

  4. DIIIFan,
    I agree with almost everything you wrote. I also feel like Augsburg is in a precarious position. I could see Augsburg falling behind a team like Bethel in a Central Region that is very difficult to rank.

    If you’re trying to match what the committee will do, I have no problem projecting Stevens and Berry. I just don’t think either of those teams deserve a bid over the teams I projected. Will I be “wrong?” Probably, but I’m hopeful that the committee agrees with me.

    Illinois Wesleyan has stuff that I seek out at the end, like quality wins over WUSTL and Elmhurst. Stevens didn’t beat anyone of consequence outside of the NY Region, etc.

    I had a similar feeling about the bubble. The projections ground to a halt at a certain point. There were some HTH results and common opponents toward the end, but you’re right, I had to ask each resume a lot of questions after about Team 16 or 17. I feel like my field is correct though.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 6, 2016 at 8:57 pm

  5. I’m guessing the NCAA prefers a Fri-Sat-Sun schedule for regional sites, so it would make the most sense to group schools who don’t play on Sunday at the same site (assuming all are within 500mi of each other). What schools in consideration have the Sunday play exception?


    November 6, 2016 at 9:11 pm

  6. Anon @ 9:11,
    Sunday exceptions include Calvin, Hope and Northwestern for sure and, I think, Greenville. Someone can chime in with others.

    There will be at least two regionals that will run Thursday through Saturday. If memory serves, there were three last year (Whitewater, Grand Rapids, Mount Berry).

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 6, 2016 at 9:24 pm

  7. if whitewater were to host a regional(a pretty good bet) what teams do you see being placed there?


    November 6, 2016 at 10:00 pm

  8. Anon @ 10:00,
    There are too many variables to answer that. UW-Whitewater, Washington-St. Louis and six other teams would be in Whitewater. Some combinations are better than others, but it’s nearly impossible to predict.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 6, 2016 at 10:10 pm

  9. When I looked at the teams, I tried to anticipate the host sites and slot teams within the 500 mile radius. Fruitless exercise as I don’t know who submitted bids but I made guesses. I also tried to guess the maximum number of trips (flying) the NCAA would allow. The south region is the problem and since the west region will use 5 trips I assumed no more than two trips to everyone else. So, where does the south play if you can only fly in one or two teams? Again, we are told travel is not considered until after bids, but I don’t believe that.

    I expected when I went through the teams that there would be a number of quality teams on the bubble in one region but that didn’t happen. My original thought was to hold the south regional where these excess teams were. Again, I struggled to make cases for a number of bubble teams. I ended up putting the region in Juniata. I fly in Berry and Emory and probably either Cal Lu or CMS (since they have to fly anyway as I put the west region in Dallas). Hendrix drives to Dallas. That gives me 7 flights. It’s easy to bounce Berry and choose a team that doesn’t require flying and the more I think about it the more I think that happens. NCAA can also bounce Colorado College or La Verne to eliminate flights but if you compare those teams’ resumes to bubble teams it’s not even close.

    The biggest thing going for Stevens is that I can drive them to a regional and they were the #1 ranked team in their region. Doesn’t mean I think they are worthy. So, yeah…our approaches were different and I’m sure we’re both wrong. :-)


    November 6, 2016 at 10:17 pm

  10. With regards to Whitewater, that was one of my final guesses. The problem I had is that most of the Wisconsin teams need to go to Northwestern. I kept having to shift teams west towards St Paul and then shift teams west to Whitewater.

    WUSTL could go to a Hope or Calvin host site, too.


    November 6, 2016 at 10:22 pm

  11. DIIIFan,
    Bracketing can take longer than the selection of teams. If anyone wants to chase their own tail, use the NCAA mileage calculator and see what it means to bracket an equitable tournament. Have fun.

    I and a small group project the field, complete with seeds, each year at D3baseball.com. I’ve found that it takes forever to bracket if the group is larger than two or maybe three people. “Of course Team A could go there. So could a dozen other teams, which would undo everything we just finished.” Good times, but there are a few good ways to bracket in D III. The key is to fill up the South. There is plenty of reconfiguring after the fact, but you need to flag all teams within 500 miles of a site down there first.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 6, 2016 at 10:34 pm

  12. DIIIFan,
    Very true about WUSTL, but it was a spoken rule (yet definitely unwritten) under more than one national chair in another D III sport that, unless there is a desperate need for balance elsewhere, you shouldn’t drive teams well past one regional site to get to another. It makes some sense, but that doesn’t mean women’s volleyball abides by it.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 6, 2016 at 10:41 pm

  13. But isn’t the selection of 64 decided before choosing the host sites? So the bubble teams shouldn’t matter geographically. Berry is first off the Regional Ranking block in the South with Emory/Hendrix earning AQs. With the recent losses, I’m assuming Augsburg drops in their ranking and Illinois Wesleyan isn’t regionally ranked? So the committee has to compare the top remaining from each regionally ranking, correct? And then it’s a trickle down effect the rankings right??


    November 6, 2016 at 10:41 pm

  14. Anon @ 10:41,
    Nothing you wrote is untrue. However, Illinois Wesleyan could now be ranked in the Midwest.
    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 6, 2016 at 10:45 pm

  15. What a mess in the South! Emory is not going to be happy about a flight…


    November 6, 2016 at 10:48 pm

  16. D3volleyballfan,
    It’s tough for Emory to host unless teams like Thomas More, Spalding or Rhodes get in. It’s also tough without Agnes Scott/Salem having a decent angle at a bid.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 6, 2016 at 10:59 pm

  17. The interactive bracket, which remains empty, shows three regionals with start dates of Nov. 10. Don’t know if that’s foreshadowing.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 7, 2016 at 9:20 am

  18. What is it foreshadowing lil ricky?


    November 7, 2016 at 9:49 am

  19. Anon @ 9:49,
    That three regionals will begin on Thursday?
    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 7, 2016 at 9:59 am



    November 7, 2016 at 10:05 am

  21. Anon @ 10:05,
    I appreciate the condescension. I’m also glad that you have no clue what having three Thursday hosts could mean.
    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 7, 2016 at 10:20 am

  22. Ricky,

    Great scoop on noticing the dates on the empty interactive bracket!


    November 7, 2016 at 10:30 am

  23. Ricky,
    New to Div. 3. What are the implications of 3 Th-Sa regionals for selection?


    November 7, 2016 at 10:36 am

  24. Lil ricky can be condensing all he wants but when it’s flipped on him, he gets his lil panties in a wad, what a no drivers license carrying never drove a car in his life stat geek boring ass unexcitable douchewaffle. Love and kisses buddy.


    November 7, 2016 at 10:38 am

  25. Noob,
    Nothing for certain, but my assumption is that some no-Sunday team is going to Whitewater.
    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 7, 2016 at 10:41 am

  26. Anon @ 10:38,
    Calmer than you are. Keep boxing shadows. I’ll be watching the selection show.
    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 7, 2016 at 10:55 am

  27. So the final rankings have not been posted even though they were determined on Sunday pure the pre-champ manual. Can we startup a nice chicken or egg conspiracy theory on which came first, selections or final rankings?


    November 7, 2016 at 11:20 am

  28. Ricky – Or Oshkosh? Practice run there and no host gig for Whitewater?


    November 7, 2016 at 11:24 am

  29. Anon@10:38: People like you are why we can’t have nice things. Ricky, don’t listen to this idiot. 99.9 percent of fans appreciate all the time you put into this website. I would suggest dropping the comments section if you get people like this jerk spoling it. You don’t deserve the aggravation.


    November 7, 2016 at 11:26 am

  30. This selection music is freaking me out.


    November 7, 2016 at 11:31 am

  31. Video went out with LaCrosse. Did their selection break the bracket? :-)


    November 7, 2016 at 11:42 am

  32. Welcome to the Final 8, Eastern!


    November 7, 2016 at 11:46 am

  33. Cal Lu may ascend to the top of the poll and get shipped half-way across the country. Has this ever happened before? :)



    November 7, 2016 at 12:09 pm

  34. I think Cal Lu is very very happy about how the bracket falls this year!!


    November 7, 2016 at 12:12 pm

  35. Well…Washington-St Louis last year getting shipped to Cal Lu would be a recent example. The Dallas regional being driving distance to Hendrix allowed the NCAA to split up CMS and Cal Lu. I applaud that choice.

    Now, I would have driven in Eau Claire to St. Paul and flown Cal Lu to New York and replaced a team that shouldn’t have gotten in, but the NCAA can only do one progressive thought a year.


    November 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm

  36. Tough luck uw stevens point, uw eau claire, and Illinois Wesleyan not getting in the tournament.


    November 7, 2016 at 1:01 pm

  37. The Stevens and Tufts regionals are a joke.


    November 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm

  38. Actually, I’m sure Emory is very happy about the flight! What an easy weekend for them. Not that this bracket is perfect by any means but there is only one regional this year without ranked teams (Tufts). In past years, there have been as many as 3 teams in the final 8 who haven’t been ranked or haven’t been ranked nearly high enough. This year the Final 8 could have 1,2,3,8,9,10, and 12 (or whoever beats them). The rankings tomorrow will be a bit different but still this is a step in the right direction!


    November 7, 2016 at 1:37 pm

  39. Ricky, I assume you will be at Whitewater and that if I wanted to stop by to say hello, I should just look for the throng of admiring fans?


    November 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm

  40. Mike,
    I will be there! I’ll be the ugliest dude wearing UW-Oshkosh garb. If not UWO garb, then simply the ugliest dude in the gym.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 7, 2016 at 2:24 pm

  41. Who makes the Final 8 depends who plays well (or gets sent to the Region of Doom). Last year prior to the ‘upsets’ the possibility existed for the 1,2,3,4,5, 10, 18, & 24 ranked teams to advance.


    November 7, 2016 at 2:40 pm

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