Oregon has an outside shot at hosting the first round of the NCAA tournament. Here’s what it will take:
The NCAA announced the latest volleyball RPI rankings on Monday ahead of the final week of the regular season.
These rankings carry an extra significance this week as the top 16 teams in the final RPI Rankings are guaranteed to host the opening two rounds of the 64-team NCAA Tournament. Sitting at No. 21, Oregon is still in contention to get in the top 16, but need help from other teams around the country.
Here is a look at the schedules of teams in the way of Oregon and the crucial No. 16 spot. All rankings reflect the latest RPI list.
16. Kentucky Wildcats
Wednesday, Nov. 23 at No. 105 Tennessee
17. Michigan Wolverines
Wednesday, Nov. 23 vs. No. 14 Michigan State
Saturday, Nov. 26 at No. 3 Nebraska
18. Creighton Bluejays
Friday, Nov. 25 vs. 142 Seton Hall
If Creighton defeats Seton Hall, they would face the winner of No. 69 Xavier vs. No. 36 Marquette on Saturday, Nov. 26 in the Big East championship match.
19. Kansas State Wildcats
Saturday, Nov. 26 vs. No. 152 Texas Tech
20. Utah Utes
Wednesday, Nov. 23 at No. 31 Arizona
Friday, Nov. 25 vs. No. 81 Colorado
21. Oregon Ducks
Wednesday, Nov. 23 vs. No. 9 Stanford
Friday, Nov. 25 at No. 117 Oregon State
Realistically, if Oregon is going to have a shot to get into the top 16, it needs to win its last two games, which would include a win against No. 9 Stanford. If they do that, they still may need help from losses by teams ahead of them to reach that coveted No. 16 spot.
Wednesday will be a key day for the volleyball teams as the regular season wraps up. Kentucky’s matchup at Tennessee will be key if the door for the No. 16 spot is to be opened. If they get beat, then that opens the door for other teams, including Oregon to take advantage.
Of the teams in the running, only Oregon and Michigan play teams ranked in the top 10 in the RPI this week. This gives them the best opportunities to move up in the rankings with wins, even if other teams in the running around them also win.
With Creighton, Kansas State and Utah all playing lower quality opponents, a loss could be significant enough to allow the Ducks to rise to No. 16. With Michigan playing No. 14 Michigan State on Wednesday, the Ducks would benefit more with a Michigan State win but would need Nebraska to defeat Michigan on Saturday.
Even if Oregon is unable to reach the No. 16 mark to clinch a playoff home match, they should be within reach of one of the 32 at-large spots in the NCAA tournament.
The NCAA Selection show to determine the 64-team bracket is Sunday, Nov. 27 at 6 p.m., with the first round matches taking place on Dec. 1.
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter @zlast3445
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