Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Michigan State 52; Kansas State 46; Loyola Marymount 30; Oregon State 30; Colorado 23; Arizona 19; Portland 15; Louisville 12; Northern Iowa 11; Georgia 9; East Tennessee State 8; Cincinnati 5; Colorado State 5; Tennessee 2
Nebraska moving up to No. 3 was expected with Texas losing twice to Stanford. The question was how far would Texas fall? And the answer was “not very” as UT@SUCKS pulled in at No. 5. It seemed that the coaches took a vacation for the remainder of the poll as there was very little movement except for an odd minor move up.
Note that even with a loss to Illinois in 4 sets, Creighton remains at 10 in the new poll.
The B1G ended up with 5 in the top 10 AGAIN, and 2 more in the 11-20 range with Michigan State receiving votes (RV) at the equivalent of 26. I was expecting that with Purdue and Michigan both winning their matches and STILL being unbeaten, they would move up in the polls possibly inside the 15 line. I was surprised to see that Purdue actually dropped a spot in the polls going from 15 to 16. So an undefeated Purdue goes down South and wins 3 matches including defeating a ranked Alabama squad in straight sets, but a three loss USC jumps them from 16th to 14th. USC must have had a hell of a week right? Must have defeated a couple of top 15 teams? Well…….not so much. USC defeated the Rajun Cajuns of Louisiana (formerly known as La Tech) and then defeated a 3 – 6 San Diego squad, who is somehow STILL RANKED at 24th. More on them later. Michigan on the other hand, after beating Notre Dame twice, and having lost a total of one set in 11 matches, moved up a grand total of one to No. 18.
Back to the Toreros. I missed this anomaly last week, but it did catch my attention this time around. Ranked at a record of 3 – 6 would imply a list of 3 impressive victories, probably in the top 15, and zero bad or even mediocre losses. But instead you find a victory over one ranked team, Baylor (something that was also accomplished by UT@RGV – go fightin’ Vaqueros), a split with an unranked but barely receiving votes Tennessee squad, and the unranked Louisiana / La Tech team. While most of their losses have been to ranked opponents, none have been to top 10 teams. Washington twice, UCLA, USC, the aforementioned Tennessee split, and a 5 set loss to unranked Oregon State. I could make a better case for ranking 6 – 6 Northern Iowa. Not sure who is giving San Diego the votes, but this isn’t just odd, this is stupid.
Now that the non-conference schedule is essentially done, and teams are gearing up for conference play, it is interesting to see how the strength (or weakness) of each conference may impact the top seeding for the NCAA tournament.
For instance, BYU and the Big West Conference. BYU is undefeated having played a solid non-conference schedule. But the main contenders in their conference are San Diego, which shouldn’t be ranked, Loyola-Marymount (RV), and Portland (RV). So essentially BYU and a huge gap to the next competitive level. It is likely BYU will be undefeated going into the NCAA’s and that should be enough to secure a top 4 seed despite the weakness in their conference.
Texas and Pittsburgh follow a similar path. The delta between Texas and the rest of the Big 12 is pretty significant. The match in Waco may prove competitive, but one would think that Baylor would have to be jacked and UT@SUCKS would have to be uninterested for the upset to occur. I just don’t see Kansas State or Iowa State putting up much resistance. So again, it appears the Longhorns will likely run the table and enter into NCAA play with the current 3 losses. With the lack of conference strength, is that enough to secure a top 4 seed?
Pittsburgh is head and shoulders above everyone else in the ACC, they are undefeated, and the ACC has slightly more depth than the Big 12. So advantage Panthers over Longhorns, right? While Pittsburgh has a win over Cal-Poly and an impressive beating of a top 15 Washington squad in straight sets, they start conference play a few slots nationally behind Texas. Is being unbeaten enough to overtake the Longhorns for a coveted top 4 slot?
Stanford is the only PAC-12 team in the top 10, but there is a gaggle of teams ranked 11-25 and a few more receiving votes. There are four road trips the Color Cardinal have to navigate to get through the PAC-12 unscathed. Corvalis – Eugene, USC – UCLA, and to a lesser extent Boulder – Provo. The toughest trip may be Pullman – Seattle in the first weeks of November. There is a lot depth in this conference and if you come out flat against an inspired opponent playing at home, you could end up hanging an ‘L’ on your schedule. I think that Stanford may stumble once on the road, but will end up with a 19-1 conference record. And 27-2 will get them a top 4 seed.
And finally The Beast that is the B1G. I previously posted I thought that 17 – 3 record might win the conference; something that hasn’t been done since 2011 (since then it has been two losses or less to win it). However, I think Lexi Sun elevates this team to another level. The question remains how consistent they can be. I think they navigate the Brutal B1G schedule to an 18-2 mark. If you can navigate The Beast with that kind of mark, you probably deserve a top 4 seed and home court in the NCAA Tournament.
So my semi-educated / actually retarded guesses for the top 4 seeds to the 2018 NCAA tournament based on non-conference results and a prediction of conference outcomes are 1) undefeated BYU, 2) 2 loss Stanford, 3) 3 loss Nebraska, and 4) undefeated Pittsburgh. Texas comes in at 5 and the SEC top teams have too many non-conference losses (and in the case of Florida, a BAD loss) to be considered. Please DON’T take this prognostication to Vegas unless you have odd, masochistic tendencies
I fully expect 6 of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament to be B1G teams. That means a lot of home cooking for the B1G in that first weekend of the tournament.
Continuing to look into the future, congratulations to Coach Cook and Nebraska for getting Outside Hitter Ally Batenhorst into the 2021 Recruiting Class fold. Another big get for the Huskers that adds to one of Cook’s top classes:
And finally, congrats to Callie Schwarzenbach (or as radio announcer John Baylor likes to call her, Callie SchwarzenBLOCK) for being selected as B1G Defensive Player of the Week. Apparently you can be the Conference Defensive Player of the Week, but still not get on the Husker Invite All-Tournament Team.