Tensions rise as NCAA men's volleyball tournament looms
The GIST: Selection Sunday for the court kings is just days away, but there’s still work to do at the net. Men’s volleyball’s unconventional conferences are all hosting their tourneys this week, with champs to crown and automatic natty bids to bestow on Saturday. Since only seven teams are invited to May’s NCAA tournament, winning these conferences is a BFD.
- The NEC has a pair of big hitters, but the sport’s top contenders play in the MIVA, MPSF, EIVA, and Big West. Let’s bump it.
MIVA: No procrastinators here — MIVA’s competition began over the weekend to set up tonight’s 7 p.m. ET semifinals. It’s anyone’s game between No. 7 Ohio State, No. 8 Ball State, and No. 18 Lewis, who all finished with 11-3 season records. But don’t count out the No. 32 McKendree Bearcats, who stunned by upsetting No. 2 Loyola in Saturday’s quarter-finals.
MPSF: Some of the nation’s best squads hail from this conference, including No. 1 UCLA. They’ll have to contend with the likes of No. 5 BYU, No. 6 Grand Canyon, and No. 13 Stanford to remain atop the volleyball world. But don’t let Stanford’s rank fool you — they’ve already ousted Grand Canyon twice this season. Catch today’s first game at 6:05 p.m. ET.
EIVA: While NJIT and Charleston start the EIVA party today at 4:30 p.m. ET, the conference’s top two squads don’t take the court until tomorrow. The No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions have roared as a Top-10 team all season, but with the No. 15 Princeton Tigers not far behind them, expect a big catfight in Saturday’s final.
Big West: This conference’s name doesn’t lie — with last year’s NCAA defending champs and runners-up, No. 3 Hawaii and No. 4 Long Beach State, respectively, this tourney is one, ahem, big kahuna. This duo doesn't play until Friday, but if your volleyball-loving heart just can’t wait, catch the conference's first game between UCSB and UCSD tonight at 8 p.m. ET.