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 2018 preseason top 25

Another year, another attempt at projecting the best teams in the NCAA Division III. It’ll all work itself out in the end. But in the meantime, tell me where I’m wrong.

Last year six of my top nine preseason teams made the national quarterfinals, so there’s room for improvement.

2018 Preseason top 25
1. Colorado College
2. Emory
3. Calvin
4. Washington-St. Louis
5. Gustavus Adolphus
6. Wittenberg
7. Illinois Wesleyan
8. Chicago
9. Johnson & Wales (R.I.)
10. Ithaca
11. St. Thomas
12. Berry
13. Carnegie Mellon
14. Tufts
15. Carthage
16. Juniata
17. Aurora
18. Whittier
19. Christopher Newport
20. Wisconsin-Eau Claire
21. Trinity (Texas)
22. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
23. Johns Hopkins
24. Southwestern
25. MIT

The Next 40: Augsburg; Babson; Bethel; Birmingham-Southern; Cal Lutheran; Case Western Reserve; Chapman; Clarkson; DePauw; DeSales; Eastern; Heidelberg; Hope; La Verne; Mary Hardin-Baylor; Mary Washington; Millikin; Muhlenberg; Northwestern; Ohio Northern; Otterbein; Pacific; Pacific Lutheran; Randolph-Macon; Saint Benedict; Scranton; Stevens; Swarthmore; Texas Dallas; Texas Lutheran; Texas Tyler; Vassar; Wartburg; Washington and Lee; Wellesley; Wesleyan; Wisconsin-La Crosse; Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Wisconsin-Whitewater.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

July 21, 2018 at 2:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. […] Nelson has come out with his annual preseason Top 25, which you can find here. My Top 25 can be found […]

  2. Love it!

    I have a post up that talks about our differences as well as our combined Top 10. You have me a little scared on St. Thomas. Also, why do I like Oshkosh more than you? Are you on board with the NCAA and their 2-year hatred of the WIAC? :-)


    July 21, 2018 at 8:38 am

  3. rbrochelle,
    UST won the MIAC despite a significant injury.
    The WIAC was rather senior-heavy last year. I have lofty expectations for the league, but expectations are just a first step.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    July 21, 2018 at 9:17 am

  4. six of eight ain’t bad at all. Cool that you’re not this good at fantasy football.


    July 22, 2018 at 11:08 pm

  5. Whittier looks to be competitive in sciac in 2018


    July 28, 2018 at 2:56 pm

  6. […] My preseason top 25 had CMS 22nd due to its senior-laden title squad, but the idea that the champ is the champ until proven otherwise is an approach that I can abide. The logic is solid if a bit unthinking. I’m assuming the retort would be, “What is there to think about? CMS is number one.” Understood. Not a strong disagreement from me. […]

  7. Looking at the NE schools.

    J&W(RI) loses no one. Their biggest week of the season is the first one in CA, so you hope they are ready to go. They are definitely a target now, let’s see how they like that. I think they keep it going.

    MIT lost 3 of 9 rotation players (23% of the points), including a couple spark plugs, but they usually find a way to keep it going. Unfortunately their schedule is very weak this year. no good out of region opponents.

    I know why you ranked Tufts #14 and why no NE coaches voted for them leaving them #42. They are good! they use D1 transfers (not very NESCAC)! But, they are the Buffalo Bills of NE D3 volleyball. They have a well earned reputation as a team that can’t close. They have now hosted the NESCAC tournament 5 of the last 10 years without a win, and lost 4 finals on their home court. I saw them all. Wesleyan just broke their will last year and coasted to the title. That said, they are going to go to Emory (their 1st week, the 2nd week for the rest of D3) and can make a statement there. They should be good (no roster info yet). If you made me pick one NE schools that might someday go all the way I would probably pick them.

    Wesleyan is playing 2 OK tournaments (Ithaca and Susquehanna). They are a very scrappy team. I can see them getting into the top 25 at some point.

    In the “40” group, Babson is not a bad team, I watch them a lot. Wellesley has 1 very good player. I am still appalled they both got undeserved bids last year. And since playing no one worked for them in 2017 they have decided to take the same tack in 2018! My one question is why is Babson going to Florida the first week to play three D2 schools no one has ever heard of??? I can’t wait to see how coach Long spins gold out of those matches for them!


    August 14, 2018 at 7:14 pm

  8. NED3VballFan,
    I don’t get to see many New England teams in person, but I really respected that young 2016 Tufts team. It’s sometimes hard to get a sense by seeing top eastern teams on streams for a maybe a set or two at a time during the regular season. Watching that Tufts squad compete through mistakes and take a quarterfinal to five left an impression although neither team played that well. I also saw that Tufts’ talent wasn’t a mismatch.

    Most teams are at a raw talent deficit to the top handful of programs in a given year, but Tufts was definitely in a tier or two just below that. The Tufts I saw in 2016 — several of whom are still around — was not just “New England good.” That team could play, and it’s stuck with me. It was the first NE/NY team that made me think that way. NE and NY have vastly improved top teams over the past four years or so. I’m sure it will still occur due to upsets at regionals, but it’s been a few years since I’ve written off a NE/NY team in the quarters.

    Teams like J&W (maybe the top three or four in NE and top one or two in NY) now pop on streams. Still very little depth in those regions compared to what I see around here or elsewhere, but I’m on board with the upper crusts.

    After being reminded of genuine selection shockers rather than the typical mere selection disagreements, here’s another plea to the selection committee ahead of the 2018 season:
    With my sincere respect for the NE and NY elite accepted into the record, my hope is that teams will still have to prove their mettle and not get a free pass to the tourney simply by manipulating a math formula like SOS and playing teams in 8-12 range of a given region. I truly think we all hope that that’s the case.

    The Manual says the criteria are not listed in priority order. That doesn’t mean that all criteria are the same. My logical answer as to why, which other D III committees have understood for years, is simple: We would not need a committee to see which team has a 5-0, 4-1 or 3-2 advantage in the five criteria. A computer spits out that info very quickly. A committee is quite literally not needed in that science-only approach. Since there are committees — and I argue we need committees — I posit that the language in the Manual is smart and deliberate. There is a very important science aspect that shows the criteria scorecard (5-0, 4-1, 3-2), but that isn’t where the committee’s job ends. It’s merely the starting point of the debate for the art. The selection of teams combines science and art. The job entails sometimes correcting, not automatically affirming, the science that would put the wrong 3-2 team ahead of the other.

    The Manual language is expressly and unequivocally vague for a reason, allowing the committee freedom to decide a priority order for its membership. My opinion is that the recent volleyball committees have shirked that specific responsibility, which has been embraced by other D III national committees for years.

    The only time the science aspect can be literal is when the criteria are 5-0. The team with a 4-1 criteria deficit doesn’t automatically lose in the direct comparison, it merely has a 1-in-5 chance to overcome that deficit. And I agree it would take an extreme example to overcome that. An extreme example I could think of is if the leading team lost all three matches handily to the other team in the direct comparison and the other criteria were close after a thorough drilling down into the direct data points in those components.

    Similarly, a team with a 3-2 deficit would have a roughly 40 percent chance to win out. What I’m suggesting is that it’s supposed to be messy and hard. Mixing science and art is difficult, but that’s what is demanded from the Manual to the committees on a yearly basis.

    There are debated minutia details like what makes a criterion difference statistically significant (many committees agree 0.030 in SOS is a good gauge for that criterion), but it appears we have gone off script in recent years in terms of the basic framework. So, minutia differences are for sometime after — I hope it’s soon — we can agree to get back to the framework that states not all criteria are equal.

    Also, the criteria very specifically say “results” versus common and ranked opponents instead of “record” or “percentage,” but I think most people are in general accord with that. There’s no room for dialog or debate if we don’t agree on what everyday English words mean.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    August 15, 2018 at 4:47 am

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