The NCAA released the seedings for the 2017 Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament on Sunday night. The top four seeds are Penn State, Florida, Stanford, and Kentucky. Noticeably missing from that top four list is the University of Nebraska.
If they went simply by the most recent Coaches’ Poll, Nebraska would still be fifth, but Texas would be in the top four. That might be worse.
What difference does this make? The top-seeded teams still in the tournament get to host. Since the Huskers are #5, the first two rounds will be in Lincoln. Coming to Lincoln will be Stony Brook, Washington State, and Florida State. If Kentucky and Nebraska both win their weekend, then Nebraska has to go to Lexington to earn their way to Kansas City for the Final Four. Ultimately, if the Huskers take care of business, they’ll make it to Kansas City.
Why is this a mess? Two SEC teams in the top four is a joke. Yes, the Huskers lost to Florida opening weekend. However, the Huskers were playing with Hunter Atherton setting, not Kelly Hunter. It also took the Gators five sets to defeat that Husker team in Gainesville. Actually, former Husker Coach Terry Pettit probably put it better than I can.
and I am wrong. Florida, Kentucky, Penn State and Stanford are the top 4 seeds. Florida defeated 1 top thirty team after September 1. Nebraska defeated 11.— Terry Pettit (@TerryPettit1) November 27, 2017
In his second tweet, you’ll notice the team’s Florida has beaten since September 1st have been outside the top 30. The only top 30 team they’ve beaten is Kentucky.
Honestly, Florida’s only lost once this year, to Kentucky at home in Gainesville. Florida isn’t the gripe.
Kentucky lost three matches this year. They were swept by Creighton, swept by Kansas and swept by Florida. The Florida sweep was the beginning of November. If Nebraska is be penalized for the early season loss to the University of Northern Iowa as many think, then Kentucky shouldn’t be in. Nebraska wasn’t swept this season. Their four losses were in four sets to Oregon, five to Florida, four to Northern Iowa, and four to Wisconsin.
Realistically, Kentucky has no business being a top four. Based on strength of schedule through the conference season, Nebraska should have a top four seed. Although Texas is also in a great conference, and only has two losses this year, the Huskers have knocked off 11 top 30 teams since September 1.
The other bungle of note in this thing is the teams coming to Lincoln. The NCAA says they want to get teams seeded relatively regionally outside the top sixteen. Look at the teams going to Kentucky. It’s Western Kentucky, Eastern Tennessee State, and Notre Dame.
Coming to Nebraska will be Florida State, Washington State, and Stony Brook (New York).
A couple years back, the NCAA changed how the locations are awarded for the first four rounds. The first weekend has always been awarded based on seeding, but they have changed the formula for the second weekend. In the past they were predetermined a la the basketball tournaments. Now the top four remaining seeds host the second weekend, the third and fourth rounds. No one sells more tickets than the Huskers and we know that Devaney would be sold out. What will it look like in Lexington?
Whether Nebraska was the four or the five seed, they would have had to go through the #1 team, Penn State, to reach the National Championship match. Granted, either team could lose in the interim, though Penn State’s only loss this season is Nebraska.
When all is said and done, if Nebraska and Kentucky both take care of business, the difference will be where Nebraska has to play Kentucky in the regional final. The Huskers are better than the Wildcats. They should make it to championship weekend in Kansas City.