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Jacob Myers | NCAA.com | December 6, 2018

NCAA volleyball tournament: How national seeds predict the national champion

Twelve of the 16 national seeds in the 2018 NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament advanced to the regional semifinals with two wins standing in the way of a national semifinal berth.

Before the action begins Friday, we wondered if there was any way to historically predict which seeds were most likely to make it to the national semifinals, the national championship match and which seed is most likely to win the national championship.

Since teams were seeded 1-16 for the first time in the 2000 NCAA volleyball tournament, teams with higher seeds make the national semifinals and national title game significantly more than those of lower seeds, unsurprisingly. However, the difference is quite stark.

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Since 2000, the tournament’s No. 1 seed has won the national championship six out of 18 times. Teams seeded No. 7 through No. 16 have only won two of the 18 national titles.

For seeds that make the semifinals, the No. 1 seed lost before reaching the semifinals in only four tournaments. If going by these numbers, No. 1 seed Stanford will have almost a 50-50 chance of winning the national championship if it reaches the national semifinals. (No. 1 seeds have won six times out of 14 years when making the semifinals).

If No. 14 seed Marquette or No. 16 seed Washington State win its respective regional this weekend, each would be the first of its national seed to make the national semifinals.

Before watching the regionals this weekend, it’s worth noting that all top four seeds have advanced to the national semifinals just once since 2000.

Here are a few other notable stats we found when analyzing the NCAA volleyball tournament since 2000:

  • The lowest seed to win a national title was the No. 11 seed in 2004. The team: Stanford.
  • The No. 2 seed has won the national championship just one time, despite making six national championship matches. No. 2 Minnesota is trying to defy history this year.
  • Teams seeded No. 8, No. 10 and No. 13-16 have never made the national championship match.
  • Stanford in 2004 and No. 9 UCLA in 2011 are the only teams seeded lower than No. 6 to win a national championship. The past year’s national champion, Nebraska, is seeded No. 7 in 2018.
  • The last time the No. 1 seed missed the national semifinals was in 2015. Only in 2010 and 2011 did the No. 1 seed miss the tournament in back-to-back years.
  • No. 3 seeds have been to the national semifinals the same number of times as No. 2 seeds.
  • Unseeded teams have made three national semifinals, but only once to the championship.

Below is a chart of every national semifinalist and how each team finished in the tournament since 2000.

MORE: NCAA volleyball tournament regional preview, schedule, how to watch

Year Seed Team Result
2000 1 Nebraska Champion
  3 Southern California Semifinalist
  5 Hawaii Semifinalist
  7 Wisconsin Runner-up
       
2001 1 Long Beach State Runner-up
  2 Nebraska Semifinalist
  3 Stanford Champion
  5 Arizona Semifinalist
       
2002 1 Southern California Champion
  2 Stanford Runner-up
  5 Florida Semifinalist
  6 Hawaii Semifinalist
       
2003 1 Southern California Champion
  2 Hawaii Semifinalist
  3 Florida Runner-up
  13 Minnesota Semifinalist
       
2004 4 Minnesota Runner-up
  7 Washington Semifinalist
  8 Southern California Semifinalist
  11 Stanford Champion
       
2005 1 Nebraska Runner-up
  3 Washington Champion
  15 Tennessee Semifinalist
  -- Santa Clara Semifinalist
       
2006 1 Nebraska Champion
  2 Stanford Runner-up
  4 UCLA Semifinalist
  6 Washington Semifinalist
       
2007 1 Stanford Runner-up
  3 Penn State Champion
  5 Southern California Semifinalist
  10 California Semifinalist
       
2008 1 Penn State Champion
  2 Stanford Runner-up
  3 Texas Semifinalist
  4 Nebraska Semifinalist
       
2009 1 Penn State Champion
  2 Texas Runner-up
  11 Minnesota Semifinalist
  12 Hawaii Semifinalist
       
2010 4 Penn State Champion
  6 Southern California Semifinalist
  7 California Runner-up
  9 Texas Semifinalist
       
2011 3 Illinois Runner-up
  7 Southern California Semifinalist
  9 UCLA Champion
  12 Florida State Semifinalist
       
2012 1 Penn State Semifinalist
  3 Texas Champion
  5 Oregon Runner-up
  -- Michigan Semifinalist
       
2013 1 Texas Semifinalist
  2 Penn State Champion
  3 Washington Semifinalist
  12 Wisconsin Runner-up
       
2014 1 Stanford Semifinalist
  2 Texas Semifinalist
  5 Penn State Champion
  -- BYU Runner-up
       
2015 2 Minnesota Semifinalist
  3 Texas Runner-up
  4 Nebraska Champion
  9 Kansas Semifinalist
       
2016 1 Nebraska Semifinalist
  2 Minnesota Semifinalist
  4 Texas Runner-up
  6 Stanford Champion
       
2017 1 Penn State Semifinalist
  2 Florida Runner-up
  3 Stanford Semifinalist
  5 Nebraska Champion

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