Outright Big 12 volleyball champ Kansas plays second fiddle to Texas in NCAA Tournament seeding

Kansas volleyball players try on their Big 12 Champions hats and shirts after a five-set victory against Iowa State on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Horejsi Center. The Jayhawks won in five sets, clinching a Big 12 title.

Kansas (26-2, 15-1) drew the fifth overall seed, highest in school history, in the NCAA volleyball tournament and had legitimate reason to feel slighted.

Texas (22-4, 14-2), which finished second to Kansas in the Big 12 standings, was seeded No. 4 overall, which means that if it wins its first two matches it will the be host school for the regional in which the Jayhawks are competing.

Kansas coach Ray Bechard said, “We’re getting a little ahead of the game here,” in talking about the regional round and directed the conversation back to a first-round match vs. Samford, 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Horejsi Center, where Kansas has a 16-match winning streak and has gone 37-1 in its last 38 matches. The winner of that match faces the winner of the Northern Iowa-Creighton (4 p.m. Thursday) match at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Horejsi.

“We have to play a good Samford team, (potential second-round opponent) Creighton’s won 20 in a row,” Bechard said. “If Texas wins two and we win two, that’s where we’ll go and we’ll be ready to do that.”

Bechard said that his players "might be a little motivated" by the seeding, but added that he understands what led the selection committee to that conclusion.

“Texas played a great pre-conference schedule and I’ll be real frank with you: Our pre-conference schedule let us down a little bit,” he said.

By that, Bechard meant that some Kansas opponents fell short of expectations. Arkansas (6-20) was the best example of that.

Assistant athletic director Jim Marchiony, a selection-committee member four times but not this year, agreed with Bechard's take and selection committee chair Lisa Petersen of Oregon confirmed their suspicions in an interview with volleyballmag.com.

"We realize that Kansas won the Big 12, but when you look at body of work, Texas was 8-3 against the top 25 and 12-4 against the top 50," Petersen said. "And in strength of schedule Texas was two overall and three in the non-conference. Kansas was 6-1 against the top 25 and 11-2 against the top 50, but their non-conference schedule was a sticking point. The RPI for their non-conference was in the high 40s.”

This is the first season of the NCAA’s new format that allows the highest remaining seed in each region to serve as host school in the third and fourth rounds. If Texas and KU each win their first three matches, they would play in a regional final in Austin with the winner advancing to the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio.

The seeding slight might be a moot point anyway because Kansas has so little flexibility in terms of having an available facility that meets the 3,000-seat-capacity minimum for regional matches.

Nebraska visits KU in a men’s basketball game scheduled for 2:15 p.m. on Dec. 10. In the event KU advances and Texas is upset, KU officials applied for waivers that if granted by the NCAA, would allow Kansas to play in the 9 p.m. game that day, allow the match to be played on a floor that does not have the NCAA logo, and allow the juggling of practice times. Marchiony said the school has not received a response. Over the past several months, Marchiony said he has checked with four different venues, stretching from Topeka to Kansas City, and none were available.

Assistant AD Larry Keating handles basketball scheduling. The 2017 volleyball Final Four is in Sprint Center, so if Kansas can lock up one of the top four seeds next season, it could play every tournament match within 42 miles of the Horejsi Center. But will there be another conflict with basketball?

"I know what the story is with volleyball," Keating said. "It’s just a question of whether we can fit the basketball schedule around that. It’s something that would be nice to do.”

The selection committee showed more respect to conference runner-up Texas than to outright Big 12 champion Kansas, but in general proved it thinks highly of the Big 12. Six of the conference's nine schools that participate in volleyball earned bids and three of them, including Kansas State, will play the first two rounds at home.

Bechard laughed off any suggestion that the selection committee might have given Texas the nod over Kansas because it has a facility available for all time slots for the regional round.

“No way, they are going to seed them one through 16 and then figure out who can host and who can’t host,” Bechard said.

Unlike in the men's basketball tournament with which the average sports fan is more familiar, the committee does not seed the tournament all the way through. It just selects the top 16 overall seeds and then after that fills out brackets based on geography.

Comments

David Kelley-Wood

What a crock. KU should have been the #4 seed at the very worst. The ladies earned it.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Jonathan Briles

What? A ku sports team was screwed in seeding by a selection committee? I'm shocked! Normally we get such good treatment from them. Their strength of schedule argument is a total load. Texas won 72% of the top 25 matchups and we won 85% of ours. Texas won 75% of their top 50 matchups while we won 84% of ours. We may not have played quite as many but we showed up better when we did. Better ranking, better record, and better winning percentage against top competition should result in a better seed.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Texas may have had the better RPI, but 8-3 is not at all better than 6-1 against the top 25 (73% vs. 86% win%) and 12-4 is in no way better than 11-2 against the top 50 (75% vs. 85%).

Let's hope it just gives the ladies that much more motivation. They went to the FF without being the higher seed last year, so we can certainly do it again. We should also be that much more comfortable playing in Austin. Wouldn't that also be a nice set-up for the future/2017 Big12 to finally take one on their own court.

A little more info - Texas has the #2 RPI and Kansas #6, so not much different. UT had matches against 7 tourney teams, including losing to both Nebraska and Wisconsin, while KU only played against 3 NCAA teams. I guess if you through out those 2 games (because KU didn't play anyone of that caliber), UT would be 8-1 (slightly better than 6-1) and 12-2 (slightly better than 11-2).

Screw logic, be extra motivated ladies.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Gerry Butler

ya, so very true. - -Well last year we beat USC, true not on their home court BUT very close. So I guess if we needed any mo-jo this can be it. - - We just need to take care of business first. - - We know we can beat Texas we already done it once this year, we fought up hill against the odds last year, we'll do it again - -shafted royal - -prove them all wrong ladies

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Andy Godwin

Even on the selection show KU got little love nationally. There was no legitimate discussion by the studio hosts why Texas was seeded higher than KU, other than they had won the Big XII the previous 5 years and had been in the finals the past two years. Therefore, we will continue to ask how when you play a true round robin and win your league by a game, is the second place team awarded a higher seed (rhetorical question) - because it is Texas? Lady Jayhawks take care of business at home. Go, fight, win!

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Brad Farha

In the immortal words of Mark Mangino, I think the answer is "Dollar Signs." UT's Gregory Gymnasium seats 4,000, and Horejsi Family Athletics Center seats 1,300. I wouldn't be surprised if that played into the final decision.

To be clear, this is not an argument to play the games at Allen. I love the atmosphere in Horejsi, and more importantly the coaches and student-athletes love it. I would not want to give up that home court advantage.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Kyle Rohde

Read the article; they can't play it at Horejsi - minimum 3,000 seats needed.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Brad Farha

C'mon Kyle -- don't take your cue from some of the nasty trolls here. Don't be so quick to jump on other posters. I read Tom's article. Hence the reference to Allen (i.e. NCAA could say it's okay to play in Allen late that night), which I still don't like. Or NCAA could ditch the 3000 rule and seed based on performance. All in all, I support one of Tom's prior articles where he suggests a larger purpose-built facility for volleyball.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Doug Wallace

What a bunch of bull! Pardon the unintended pun.

So That Big XII championship banner isn't worth the material it is printed on! Those KU ladies worked so hard and won what they won just to still be second fiddle to Texas Longhorns.Regardless of the outcomes and wins huh?Pretty pathetic If I Must say so myself.

Now you know why the Big XII has had teams leave this lousy conference! I Never want to hear "These traitors that left the Big XII conference" You see why 4 teams have bolted? Case in point people.I Never want to hear that Traitor Talk ever again from anyone ever again if you do you sound foolish if you think things are not so screwed up.in this conference after this and other instances.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Jay Scott

The NCAA did the seedings. Not the Big12.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Doug Wallace

And if you do not believe Texas did not have any influence on it I got a Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridge to sell you!

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Dale Stringer

Texas is not the reason why 4 teams left, just 2 (partially 3). NU and A&M definitely left because of UT. CU left early because the PAC10 had an opening at the time and they thought the Big 12 would only last another year (Texas can take some of that blame too). Misery left for the money of the SEC, no other reason.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Doug Wallace

No all 4 have stated the main reason they left was because of Texas Longhorns, Also Texas screwed over Iowa State in football a year ago over a call that cost them to lose a game.Texas tried to force Texas Tech a couple of years ago to put on one of their games on the LHN without their consent!

With all due respect Dale and for the record Im no misery fan but they also got tired of the LHN and Texas Longhorns and the antics they pull like they just did to KU!Wake up do not buy the propaganda it is NOT greed or SEC Money alone it is actions like this that pissed them off.

Im tired of Texas doing this like I said before in the previous post they did it to Iowa State and Texas Tech after the 4 teams bolted!

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Gerry Butler

ummm, you missed the boat. It was the selection committee NOT the big 12.They didn't have anything to do

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Doug Wallace

Like I told Jay if you do not believe Texas had a hand in this I got a Brooklyn and Golden Gate Bridge to sell you!

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Joe Joseph

A potentially very tough elite 8 matchup, yes. But the good news is that it's against a team Kansas has proven it can (and has) beat. While everyone would rather the seeding be flipped, Kansas could have also been sent to Nebraska, Minnesota or Wisconsin. When you look at it that way it almost feels like Kansas caught a break!

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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Brad Farha

I think if the seedings were flipped (Kansas 4 and Texas 5), we would have had the opportunity to have home court all the way through the 1st 4 rounds. That would have been nice. Still, getting ahead of myself -- we have to advance to get that kind of opportunity.

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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W Keith Swinehart II

I like Bechards perspective, basically, let's win the first two games, then...

7 months, 4 weeks ago

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