Jack Kvancz, the men’s basketball coach at Catholic University, coined the term “Mid-Majors” in a 1977 press conference. Kvancz described Catholic University and opponent Howard University as “two ‘Mid-Majors,’ or whatever you’d call us…..” Kvancz probably had no idea of the impact he would have on the American college sports culture and media. Today, the term Mid-Major is used primarily in NCAA DI sports and refers to athletic conferences that are not included in the “Power Five Conferences” (the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC). Thus, the schools in Power Five Conferences have, by default, become known as “majors.” This distinction of “Mid-Major” is not officially recognized by the NCAA but is a media concept that is clearly “here to stay” and is used regularly by virtually all sports media outlets.

For volleyball, the term Mid-Majors includes all volleyball teams not in the “Power Five” conferences of the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC. Overall, we have 269 teams included in this Net Set Mid-Major poll when we subtract the 65 teams in the Power Five conferences from the 334 total Division I volleyball programs.  It’s important to remember that the term “Mid-Major” does not refer to the size of the school or to the size of its athletic budget. It refers only to the conference in which the school participates athletically.

The methodology behind the Net Set Mid-Major Ranking combines both the mathematical concepts of probability and statistics found in rankings with the human perspective of the coach’s view found in polls.  The NS Index is a numerical average based upon the positions of teams in these polls or rankings. In the Net Set Ranking, the team’s position in each poll or ranking is summed and then averaged to create the NS Index. This NS Index is then arranged, or ranked, in ascending order, with the lowest NS Index determining the number 1 team, the second lowest NS index determining the number 2 team, and so forth.

Let’s review the new Net Set Mid-Majors Rankings.

 Net Set # School and Conference Location 2016 W-L VB Mag Poll NCAA RPI Index Pablo Rank Net Set Index 1 BYU Cougars//WCC Provo, UT 27-3 1 7 13 7.00 2 Creighton Bluejays//Big East Omaha, NE 26-6 3 17 10 10.00 3 Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine//Big West Honolulu, HI 22-5 4 23 8 11.67 4 San Diego Toreros//WCC San Diego, CA 24-5 7 16 16 13.00 5 Wichita State Shockers//MVC Wichita, KS 24-7 6 21 20 15.67 6 W. Kentucky Lady Toppers//C-USA Bowling Green, KY 30-2 2 14 38 18.00 7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers//Sun Belt Conway, SC 26-4 9 35 31 25.00 T8 Boise State Broncos//MWC Boise, ID 25-6 11 32 39 27.33 T8 Northern Iowa Panthers//MVC Cedar Falls, IA 24-9 10 45 27 27.33 10 Dayton Flyers//Atlantic 10 Dayton, OH 30-1 5 28 53 28.67 11 Missouri State Bears//MVC Springfield, MO 26-8 8 44 36 29.33 12 SMU Mustangs//AAC Dallas, TX 25-7 18 30 45 31.00 13 Colorado State Rams//MWC Ft. Collins, CO 21-8 15 46 34 31.67 14 Marquette Golden Eagles//Big East Milwaukee, WI 23-8 14 41 48 34.33 15 Arkansas State Red Wolves//Sun Belt Jonesboro, AR 25-8 12 55 43 36.67 16 Miami (Ohio) Redhawks//MAC Oxford, OH 23-6 21 40 51 37.33 17 Cincinnati Bearcats//AAC Cincinnati, OH 22-9 22 38 54 38.00 T18 Loyola Marymount Lions//WCC Los Angeles, CA 19-11 19 62 37 39.33 T18 UNLV Rebels//MWC Las Vegas, NV 23-7 24 33 61 39.33 20 Lipscomb Bisons//Atlantic Sun Nashville, TN 22-7 17 52 50 39.67 21 Cleveland State//Horizon Cleveland, OH 25-5 25 37 58 40.00 22 Cal Poly Mustangs//Big West San Luis Obispo, CA 18-9 20 54 47 40.33 23 CSU Long Beach 49ers//Big West Long Beach, CA 22-10 13 71 40 41.33 24 Northern Illinois Huskies//MAC DeKalb, IL 25-5 16 51 62 43.00 25 SIU-Carbondale Salukis//MVC Carbondale, IL 21-12 23 69 89 60.33

Net Set (NS) Mid-Major Rankings and the NS Index are an average from the three polls or rankings listed below.

· The Volleyball Magazine Mid-Major Poll, 11/29/16 (http://volleyballmag.com/vbmpoll110816/). VolleyballMag.com’s fantastic Mid-Major Poll, produced by Lee Feinswog, includes all teams not in the “Power Five” conferences as denoted above. The ten pollsters for this poll are all head coaches of a Mid-Major volleyball program.

· The NCAA RPI Index, 11/26/16 (http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/volleyball-women/d1/ncaa-womens-volleyball-rpi). The RPI ranking is one of the factors for determining the at-large bids to the National Championship Tournament. Here is the basic formula for the RPI rankings currently used by the NCAA.

o RPI = (Winning %*.25) + (Opponent’s Winning %*.50) + (Opponent’s Opponents Winning *.25)

· The Pablo Rankings, 11/28/16 (http://www.richkern.com/vb/rankings/FreePageRankings.asp). The Pablo Rankings are an incredibly ingenious ranking system that operates on a probabilistic, algorithmic approach to analytics and, in terms of accuracy and predictive analytics, the Pablo Rankings are the most accurate mathematical model available today.

Therefore, we have the ingenious probability algorithm of the Pablo Rankings, combined with the “strength of schedule” perspective of the NCAA RPI Index, and tempered by the human perspective of the first line coaches. To me, that’s the best of all worlds for a ranking.