Mid-Majors Net Set Ranking 11/4/16


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. And, more importantly, here’s the conferences which comprise the term “Mid-Major” for volleyball. 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

America East Conference

American Athletic Conference Atlantic Sun Conference

Atlantic 10 Conference

Big East Conference

Big Sky Conference

Big South Conference

Big West Conference

Colonial Conference

Conference USA

Horizon League

Ivy League

Metro Atlantic Conference

Mid-American Conference

Mid-Eastern Conference

Missouri Valley Conference

Mountain West Conference Northeast Conference

Ohio Valley Conference

Patriot League

Southern Conference

Southland Conference

Southwestern Conference

Summit Conference

Sun Belt Conference

West Coast Conference Western Athletic Conference

So, after all this preliminary information, let’s delve into the new Net Set Mid-Majors poll, which is a numerical average of three other polls and rankings (see below for the three polls and rankings). By combining polls and rankings into a single ranking, we obtain both the mathematical benefits of the rankings and the human insights of the coaches.

Net Set # School Conference Location 2016


VB Mag Poll NCAA RPI Index Pablo Rank Net Set Index
1 BYU Cougars WCC Provo, UT 20-3 2 6 7 5.00
2 Creighton Bluejays Big East Omaha, NE 18-6 4 20 7 10.33
3 San Diego Toreros WCC San Diego, CA 19-3 3 5 24 10.67
4 W. Kentucky Hilltoppers C-USA Bowling Green, KY 24-2 1 19 24 14.67
5 Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine Big West Honolulu, HI 16-5 5 40 21 22.00
6 Dayton Flyers Atlantic 10 Dayton, OH 24-1 6 33 44 27.67
7 Marquette Golden Eagles Big East Milwaukee, WI 20-5 7 31 49 29.00
8 Wichita State Shockers MVC Wichita, KS 16-7 10 35 46 30.33
9 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Sun Belt Conway, SC 19-4 11 41 41 31.00
10 Colorado State Rams MWC Ft. Collins, CO 15-7 14 57 28 33.00
11 Boise State Broncos MWC Boise, ID 19-6 19 32 50 33.67
12 UNLV Rebels MWC Las Vegas, NV 21-3 17 22 63 34.00
13 Loyola Marymount Lions WCC LA, CA 15-9 15 61 41 39.00
14 Missouri State Bears MVC Springfield, MO 19-7 8 46 65 39.67
15 CSU Long Beach 49ers Big West Long Beach, CA 16-8 9 55 58 40.67
16 SMU Mustangs AAC Dallas, TX 18-6 21 45 57 41.00
17 Northern Iowa Panthers MVC Cedar falls, IA 18-8 12 47 65 41.33
18 Cal Poly Mustangs Big West San Luis Obispo, CA 13-8 22 63 40 41.67
19 Arkansas State Red Wolves Sun Belt Jonesboro, AR 20-7 13 68 53 44.67
20 Southern Illinois Salukis MVC Carbondale, IL 18-9 17 62 64 47.67
21 Cincinnati Bearcats AAC Cincinnati, OH 15-8 26 42 79 49.00
22 Lipscomb Bisons Atlantic Sun Nashville, TN 16-7 19 75 61 51.67
23 UTSA Roadrunners C-USA San Antonio, TX 16-6 24 64 69 52.33
24 Miami (Ohio) Redhawks MAC Oxford, OH 19-4 16 36 107 53.00
25 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West Santa Barbara, CA 14-9 25 73 82 60.00

Now I’ll explain the methodology behind the Net Set Mid-Major Ranking, which combines both the mathematical concepts of probability and statistics with the human perspective of the coach’s view.

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

1. The Volleyball Magazine Mid-Major Poll (http://volleyballmag.com/vbmpoll11116/).

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 and include: Dan Conners of UC-Davis, Brian Doyon of the University of Montana, Greg Goral of Campbell University, Kris Grunwald of UConn, Justin Ingram of Southern Illinois University – Carbondale (SIUC), Steve Loeswick of the University of North Florida, Kent Miller of Saint Louis University, Coley Pawlikowski of Stony Brook University (SUNY), Jennifer Petrie of University of San Diego, and Dave Rehr of Arkansas State University.

2. The NCAA RPI Index (http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/volleyball-women/d1/).

The RPI ranking is one of the discriminators 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. 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 (aka Strength of Schedule), while only 25% of the RPI is based on the team’s actual performance. Quite frankly, that isn’t correct, statistically or logically. Nonetheless, it is used by the NCAA for seeding and at-large bids. To see the all NCAA Division I RPI Index rankings, go to this web location: (http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/volleyball-women/d1/ncaa-womens-volleyball-rpi).

3. The Pablo Rankings (http://www.richkern.com/vb/FreePage.asp).

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 here: http://www.richkern.com/vb/rankings/PabloFAQ.asp .

View the Pablo Rankings, the best pure statistical ranking available, at RichKern.com: (http://www.richkern.com/vb/rankings/FreePageRankings.asp).

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.

Also, here’s a quick analysis of the Mid-Major conferences in this ranking along with their full conference names and the number of teams each conference has in the ranking. The Big West Conference and the Missouri Valley Conference each have four teams in this Net Set Ranking while the Mountain West Conference and the West Coast Conference each have three teams in this ranking.

Conference Teams
Big West Conference 4
Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) 4
Mountain West Conference (MWC) 3
West Coast Conference (WCC) 3
American Athletic Conference (AAC) 2
Big East Conference 2
Conference – USA (C-USA) 2
Sun Belt Conference 2
Atlantic 10 Conference 1
Atlantic Sun Conference 1
Mid-American Conference (MAC) 1



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