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The Sports Daily > The Net Set Blog
State of the Sport – DI Men

net-set-bugIt’s almost 2017 and we’re about to start another season of men’s college volleyball, the 2016–2017 season. The 2015–2016 DI season was historic from many perspectives, the most notable being the fact that Ohio State’s victory in the National Championship finals marked the third year in a row that the MIVA has won that title. Does this “three-peat” for the MIVA signal a shift in the balance of power in DI? Let’s look at the current state of DI and analyze these 22 teams.

The three basic conferences of DI men’s volleyball have not changed for quite some time. We still have the EIVA (Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) in the Eastern USA, the MIVA (Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) in the Midwestern USA, and the MPSF (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) in the Western USA. However, when discussing men’s volleyball conferences, the really exciting news is the addition of men’s volleyball to the intercollegiate sports offerings of the Big West Conference in 2017–2018. Similar to the CCAR (DII Conference Carolinas) and several DIII conferences, the Big West will sponsor men’s intercollegiate volleyball as a full conference sport. This welcome addition of the Big West to men’s college volleyball is vitally important and lends optimism to the future of men’s college volleyball in the USA.

We’ll look at an overall DI snapshot first, and then we’ll review each of the four DI conferences – EIVA, MIVA, MPSF and Big West.

DI Snapshot (22 teams)

DI men’s volleyball has not seen any real growth for several years. I often hear complaints that DI is too restrictive with rules and legislation to allow for any growth, with the “clock” and the five year rule. In conjunction with these complaints, I also hear opinions that these rules are specifically designed to exclude older international athletes. Whatever the reasons for these rules, DI is clearly and undeniably the most restrictive facet of men’s college volleyball in relation to rules and regulations. The last school to enter the DI ranks was Grand Canyon University in 2013, which moved up from the DII echelon. The last school to leave DI was Pacific University, which dropped its men’s college volleyball program after the 2014 season. DI does have the big names and the big athletic budgets, but I’m not sure much of these big athletic budgets actually make it to the volleyball programs. With 22 programs, DI is the smallest of the men’s college volleyball programs other than the Junior Colleges. In alphabetical order, then, here’s all 22 current DI men’s college volleyball programs.

School

Plays In

Location

Undergrad Enrollment *

Ball State Cardinals

MIVA

Muncie, IN

16,602

BYU Cougars

MPSF

Provo, UT

30,221

CSU Long Beach Forty-Niners

MPSF

Long Beach, CA

32,079

CSU Northridge

MPSF

Northridge, CA

36,917

George Mason Patriots

EIVA

Fairfax, VA

23,062

Grand Canyon Antelopes

MIVA

Phoenix, AZ

19,500 #

Harvard Crimson

EIVA

Cambridge, MA

6,699

Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

MPSF

Honolulu, HI

13,689

IPFW Mastodons

MIVA

Ft. Wayne, IN

12,160

Loyola Chicago Ramblers

MIVA

Chicago, IL

11,079

NJIT Highlanders

EIVA

Newark, NJ

8,008

Penn State Nittany Lions

EIVA

University Park, PA

40,742

Pepperdine Waves

MPSF

Malibu, CA

3,533

Princeton Tigers

EIVA

Princeton, NJ

5,402

Ohio State Buckeyes

MIVA

Columbus, OH

45,289

Sacred Heart Pioneers

EIVA

Fairfield, CT

5,205

St. Francis Red Flash

EIVA

Loretto, PA

1,733

Stanford Cardinal

MPSF

Stanford, CA

6,999

UC Irvine Anteaters

MPSF

Irvine, CA

25,256

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

MPSF

Santa Barbara, CA

20,607

UCLA Bruins

MPSF

Los Angeles, CA

29,585

USC Trojans

MPSF

Los Angeles, CA

18,810

* – From USN&WR Best Colleges

# – From Wikipedia

The EIVA

A blended conference for DI and DII volleyball in the Eastern USA, the EIVA consists of the seven DI programs and one DII program, the Charleston Golden Eagles. The 2016–2017 EIVA preseason poll below shows George Mason as the favorite followed by Penn State.

EIVA Preseason Coaches’ Poll

1. George Mason — 63 points with 7 first place votes
2. Penn State — 54 points with 1 first place vote
3. St. Francis — 49 points
4. Princeton — 33 points
5. NJIT — 32 points
6. Harvard — 29 points
7. Sacred Heart — 19 points
8. Charleston — 9 points

The MIVA

The MIVA is riding the crest of the men’s college volleyball world, having won the last three National Championship tournaments (Loyola in 2014 and 2015, Ohio State in 2016). The MIVA is composed of nine teams, five DI teams and four DII teams (Lewis, Lindenwood, McKendree, and Quincy). Grand Canyon will exit the MIVA for the MPSF effective with the 2017-2018 season. The 2016–2017 MIVA preseason poll below shows Ohio State as the favorite followed by Lewis.

MIVA Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Ohio State — 80 points with 8 first place votes
2. Lewis — 69 points with 1 first place vote
3. Loyola — 62 points
4. Ball State — 53 points
5. McKendree — 47 points
6. Grand Canyon — 39 points
7. Fort Wayne — 24 points
8. Lindenwood — 18 points
9. Quincy — 13 points

The MPSF

Long regarded as the best men’s college volleyball conference, the MPSF has seen its reign challenged recently by the MIVA as well as the move of six teams to the Big West for the 2017–2018 season. For the 2016–2017 season the MPSF will continue its rigorous 22 match schedule, with each team playing every other team twice.

In 2017-2018, however, the MPSF will lose CSU Northridge, CSU Long Beach, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Hawai’i, and UC San Diego to the Big West while adding Concordia Irvine and Grand Canyon to the MPSF. This eight-team, reconfigured MPSF will consist BYU, California Baptist, Concordia Irvine, Grand Canyon, Pepperdine, Stanford, UCLA, and USC. The 2016–2017 MPSF preseason poll below shows BYU as the favorite followed by UCLA.

MPSF Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. BYU — 119 points, 9 first place votes
2. UCLA — 111 points, 3 first place votes
3. CSU Long Beach — 103 points
4. UC Irvine — 79 points
5. Pepperdine — 73 points
6. Hawai’i — 63 points
7. Stanford — 61 points
8. UC Santa Barbara — 58 points
9. CSUN — 53 points
10. USC — 36 points
11. Cal Baptist — 24 points
12. UC San Diego — 12 points

The Big West

Volleyball history was made when the Big West Conference became the first NCAA Division I conference to sponsor competition in men’s volleyball, beginning in the 2017-2018 season. The Big West Board of Directors approved a six-team league consisting of full conference members CSU Northridge, CSU Long Beach, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and Hawai’i.  A sixth team from UC San Diego will join the group as an associate member and gives the conference the minimum six teams required for postseason NCAA automatic qualification. An associate member in the Big West is an institution that participates in three or less conference championships. Other current Big West associate members are CSU Bakersfield in women’s beach volleyball and Sacramento State in men’s soccer and women’s beach volleyball. For more information on this newsworthy event, visit this article: (http://www.bigwest.org//story.asp?story_id=19222).

Net Set Preseason (PS) Ranking

In the Net Set Preseason Ranking below, 9 of the 15 teams play in the MPSF, 4 teams play in the MIVA, and 2 teams play in the EIVA. Please note I am using last season’s data in the NCAA 2016 Final RPI Index and the 2016 Final Pablo Ranking. This data is obviously dated since last season’s teams no longer exist; however, it is still the best statistical measure we have to rank these teams, and it is equally as correct as relying on human insight or perceptions alone.

The Net Set Ranking is a mathematical, numerical average based upon the performances of teams in three other polls/rankings. In the Net Set Ranking, the team’s position in each of the three other polls is totaled and then averaged to create a Net Set Index. This Net Set Index is then arranged, or ranked, in ascending order, with the lowest Net Set Index determining the number 1 team, the next lowest Net Set Index determining the number 2 team, and so forth. By combining polls and rankings into a single index number, we obtain both the mathematical benefits of the rankings and the human performance insights of coaches and journalists in the polls.

Net Set Rankings and the Net Set Index are a mathematical average from these three polls/rankings.

1. The AVCA Coaches Poll, preseason, 12/8/16 (https://www.avca.org/polls/dii-men/12-8-2016.html).

AVCA, or the American Volleyball Coaches Association, publishes an outstanding weekly poll for each volleyball division from its member coaches in that division. Thus, DI – DII Coaches are voting on the teams in the DI – DII poll, providing their unique insights.

2. The NCAA RPI Index, 5/9/16 (http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/volleyball-men/nc/nc-mens-volleyball-rpi).

The RPI ranking is one of the discriminators for determining the at-large bids to the National Championship Tournament, and here is the basic formula for RPI rankings. Please note that several variations of this formula exist, but the one below is the basic formula.

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

· (Winning % is calculated by dividing team’s wins by the number of games played.)

As you can see from this formula above, 75% of the RPI comes from how a team’s opponents performed (Strength of Schedule), while only 25% of the RPI is based on the team’s actual performance.

3. The Pablo Rankings, 4/11/16 (http://www.middlehitter.com/MHPR/Rankings/2016_Rankings/mhpr_rankings_page.aspx).

The Pablo Rankings are an incredibly ingenious ranking system that operates on a probabilistic, algorithmic approach and analyzes and measures the difference in abilities between two teams overall and in a match. In terms of accuracy and predictive analytics, the Pablo Rankings are the most accurate mathematical model available today. You can find a detailed explanation of the Pablo Rankings at this web location: (http://www.middlehitter.com/MHPR/Rankings/Pablo_Rankings_FAQ-MHPR_Version.pdf).

NS PS

Rank

School

Conference

NS Index

AVCA PS Poll

2016 Final RPI Index

2016 Final Pablo Rank

1

BYU Cougars

MPSF

2.00

3

2

1

2

UCLA Bruins

MPSF

2.33

2

3

2

3

Ohio State Buckeyes

MIVA

2.67

1

1

6

4

CSU Long Beach 49ers

MPSF

4.00

4

4

4

5

Stanford Cardinal

MPSF

5.67

9

5

3

6

Pepperdine Wave

MPSF

7.67

5

11

7

7

UCSB Gauchos

MPSF

7.67

12

6

5

8

Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

MPSF

8.00

7

9

8

9

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

MIVA

9.00

11

7

9

10

Lewis Flyers

MIVA

9.33

6

12

10

11

Ball State Cardinals

MIVA

11.33

15

8

11

12

UC Irvine Anteaters

MPSF

12.00

8

16

12

13

Penn State Nittany Lions

EIVA

13.00

13

13

13

14

George Mason Patriots

EIVA

15.00

10

17

18

15

CSU Northridge Matadors

MPSF

15.67

14

19

14

 

LET’S GROW VOLLEYBALL!

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