Should the Wichita State volleyball team, currently on a 16-match winning streak and with a 24-3 overall record, be one of the 16 teams to host the opening two rounds in the NCAA tournament?
It’s a complicated question, as evidenced by the Shockers’ movement in the two rankings released on Monday: up one spot to No. 16 in the RPI and down one spot to No. 21 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.
As it stands, Wichita State’s resume is solid. It has a marquee victory over Creighton (No. 9 in RPI, No. 13 in AVCA) and a solid one over Marquette, ranked No. 30 in the RPI. All three losses have come against consensus top-25 teams in Iowa State (15 in RPI, 23 in AVCA), Cal Poly (19 in RPI, 22 in AVCA), and Oregon (22 in RPI, 20 in AVCA).
Wichita State’s problem is that it only has five matches against top competition and is 2-3 in those matches. Outside of the top-50, Wichita State is 22-0 and has barely dropped a set against that competition. But that dominance isn’t gaining the Shockers any respect in the national polls.
The American Athletic Conference hasn’t offered Wichita State the chance to improve its resume, as the rest of the conference has beat up on each other throughout the season. That doesn’t help Wichita State when the highest RPI opponent in conference is No. 65 SMU and only three teams — SMU (65), Temple (69), and Central Florida (97) rank in the top-100.
But another factor the selection committee will consider before the Selection Show on Nov. 26 is Wichita State’s strong home attendance, which routinely ranks among the best in the country.
The Shockers play at Tulsa on Friday and at SMU on Sunday with a chance to win the American championship with a pair of wins this weekend.