As the college-beach-volleyball season spins out of the far turn into the home stretch, we project who’s probably in the field for the NCAA Championships while previewing the remaining six conference tournaments.
Providing an insider’s look at the selection process is committee chair Julie Cribbs.
Meanwhile, the road to an automatic bid by potential bracket-buster Long Beach State is detailed.
And our weekly honor roll includes conference postseason awards and pairs of the week.
What might happen on Selection Sunday
When the selection committee convenes on Sunday to choose and seed the 17 teams that will compete in the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship next week, the most pressing question looks to be: How powerful will the “Power 2” be?
The collegiate beach game has a distinct hierarchy, and at the top sits the nine-team Pac 12, home of every NCAA champion since the sport received official sanction in 2016, and the six-team CCSA, which has provided the runners-up in three of the six tournaments.
A perusal of the latest AVCA national top 20 tells us that the Pac-12 has six ranked teams, five in the first 13, and the CCSA numbers five in the top 16. Each of the “Power 2” receives an automatic bid for its tournament winner, so if the six-person committee were of a mind to, all eight of the at-large bids it will award might come from those leagues. Both have inherent advantages in the important “strength of schedule” criterion, since the members play against each other and their top squads typically compete in intersectional crossovers.
Below those two on the NCAA food chain are the Big West and the WCC. Both leagues enjoy programs with winning traditions that typically can be found in the national poll. But they don’t have the strength in numbers. Will either conference get bids beyond their automatics? In the case of the Big West, probably. For the WCC, probably not.
The other five leagues — the Atlantic Sun, Sun Belt, Conference USA, Southland and Ohio Valley — likely will have to be content with the automatic bids that go to conference tournament champions, and two of them almost certainly will be shuttled into the play-in game that will determine the No. 16 seed.
The following teams from the Pac-12 likely have locked up bids to the single-elimination Big Beach Dance in Gulf Shores, Alabama, next Wednesday (the play-in) and Friday through Sunday: No. 1 UCLA (a two-time NCAA champion), No. 3 USC (a…
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