The second-ranked Kentucky Volleyball team finished up its regular season last week with a pair of victories over Alabama, ending the year with a 19-1 record as they rank second ranking in the country per the AVCA coaches poll. With the Tournament Selection Show coming on Sunday, a one-seed is in play.
As of right now, only two teams are undefeated: No. 1 Wisconsin at 11-0 and No. 19 Western Kentucky at 15-0. At this point, Wisconsin probably has the overall No. 1 seed locked up. They’re undefeated, play in the top conference, and have been ranked first for most of the season. WKU, on the other hand, won’t earn a one-seed despite being undefeated, because their conference is fairly weak in comparison–but good on a fellow Kentucky school for finishing the regular season unbeaten.
If Wisconsin occupies one of the top seeds, the other schools in contention for a one-seed would be: Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas. Out of that group, I think Kentucky has the best resume. Let’s just compare.
Kentucky: ranked 2nd, 19-1 record, 3-1 vs. ranked teams, only loss to (6) Florida, SEC Champ
Minnesota: ranked 3rd, 13-2 record, 5-2 vs. ranked teams, losses to (1) Wisconsin and (4) Nebraska
Nebraska: ranked 4th, 14-2 record, 2-2 vs. ranked teams, losses to (3) Minnesota and (10) Ohio State
Texas: ranked 5th, 21-1 record, 4-1 vs. ranked teams, loss to (24) Rice. Big 12 Champ
Pretty close, isn’t it? So what sets Kentucky apart against the others? Well, UK joins Texas as the only team with one loss, with Kentucky’s coming against a 6th-ranked Florida team they beat the next day, and Texas’s L coming to a barely-ranked Rice squad. But Texas does have four wins over Baylor, who’s ranked ninth. It could be a toss-up in terms of seeding but I like the ‘Cats odds.
Against Minnesota and Nebraska, Kentucky’s advantage is that they’ve won more games and lost a game less than each of the Big Ten schools. Also, UK is a conference champion whereas the other two are not. I think Kentucky has a clear advantage over those two clubs. Even if Texas is seeded higher than UK, the ‘Cats would still be very likely to earn a one unless the committee likes the second and third-place Big Ten teams over the SEC Champs.
After a dominating regular season that ended in the program’s fourth consecutive SEC Title, the Volleyball ‘Cats are primed for a one-seed entering an NCAA Tournament they can absolutely go and win.
Tune in to the Selection Show at 4 p.m. on ESPNU this Sunday and be sure to keep up with the team as they chase a championship. The 2021 NCAA Tournament will be held in Omaha, NE from April 14-24.