College Volleyball Tournament Preview 2014: Happy Huskies

Can Colorado State be the mid-major that breaks through in this year's tournament?

Can Colorado State be the mid-major that breaks through in this year’s tournament?

The D-1 women’s volleyball tournament is here, and I’m a little late making my picks.

The bracket was not kind to Big Ten powerhouses Penn State and Wisconsin placing them in the same region. This means a rematch of last year’s championship match will most likely occur in the regional final.

Overall, Stanford is the top seed but Texas and Washington are right behind.

Through the RPI, the matches I was able to catch, and the college volleyball social media guide I did in August, I have to pick Washington to win it all over Stanford in the final. The Huskies gave the Cardinal its only loss and can do so again. Plus, Washington was one of the best schools in promoting volleyball over social media.

As far as upsets I think Nebraska is vulnerable to Kansas State, Creighton should have a good chance over Kansas and my big upset special is Long Beach State making it to the Sweet Sixteen through UCLA. My round one upset is Lipscomb over Ohio State.

I really wanted to pick Colorado State over Texas as the Rams have been the best mid-major this season. Just couldn’t do it so prove me wrong Rams. The selection committee did the Rams no favors with a likely meeting with rival Colorado in round 2.

Here are all my picks.

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College Basketball Preview Via Twitter Promotions

College basketball has the unlucky time on the calendar of starting right when college football is king. The result is action on the court doesn’t really become relevant until January. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote your basketball team on social media in November. Although posing by golf cart may not be the best example.
Vandy golf cart
Vanderbilt women’s basketball may not have hit a home run with that picture but you have to give them credit for trying. Here is a better example using their star logo for a play on words.

Here are other methods of promoting basketball on Twitter and Facebook.

Counting Down

Basketball season creeps up at most schools and athletic departments try to sound the alarm with countdowns. Some are basic but effective, matching the number of days to the season with a players jersey number. Green Bay is a great example.

Creighton does the same with their countdowns but makes their royal shade of blue pop out with everything else in grayscale.

Long Beach State went artistic, utilizing just their black and gold colors. It looks cool as a possible poster as the Beach tries to promote ticket sales for its homecoming game.

While those three had carefully planned design elements my alma mater, Ball State, used a photo of a player in an awkward facial expression to convey their countdown. I’ll say this; it’s hard not to notice it.

Media Day

Another obvious way to showcase the basketball teams is to snap pics at media day. The Big South set the standard with a mascot photo. A dozen students in furry suits just screams college basketball, or something very, very weird.

Several schools always turn to the basic, “media day is here” strategy. Take a look at Siena and Oregon State. The Saints turned to a selfie with assistant coaches while Oregon State flaunted the height of one of its players compared with reporters.

Nevada took a fashion route as it modeled the team’s uniforms. Something the Wolfpack has plenty of.

The best came from Kansas State as the Wildcats took a candid approach to showing the height differences of the women’s and men’s teams.Having this interaction as an interview was a nice touch.

Meet the Team

Other schools took a personal approach as they tried to get their players interacting with the public. Tennessee Tech has an annual fan jam called “Purple Palooza” prior to Halloween. Guess what the school’s main color is?

Halloween with the team? Who says no to that in Cookeville, Tennessee?

Southern Mississippi took a more digital route as you could chat with Guard Brooke Rhodes. Rhodes transferred in from D-II Delta State and is a graduate student. Though she has not played a game yet for the Lady Eagles, Rhodes will see plenty of playing time this season making the Facebook chat a creative move to introduce her to fans.

Sitcom Approach

Western Kentucky always has talent in both women’s and men’s basketball and bringing attention to key players was the goal. This photo of all-conference players could be a poster to a sitcom on NBC. It would be a better show than “A to Z” and “Bad Judge.”

Conference Domination

Wichita State is the Alpha Dog of the Missouri Valley Conference. To illustrate the point, the Shockers knew how to tell the world how many players they have on the preseason MVC team. Three of the five is pretty telling.

Wildcat Selfie

But the real winner here is Kentucky’s mascot selfie during Big Blue Madness. Gotta admit it’s a good view high above Rupp Arena.

The Obscurity Report Debut

Time to preview some of the sporting events this weekend that will struggle to get attention but will have a big impact in a few months. Even better, we have our first ever men’s volleyball shout out of the year. Welcome to the Obscurity Report.

BYU at Gonzaga, Saturday, 10 p.m. ESTObscurity Report new

The West Coast Conference has been having another great year with over half the league in the RPI top 120. Gonzaga (No. 23) and BYU (No. 40) are the two leaders and they meet at Gonzaga Saturday night on ESPN2. It will be an opportunity to show off the league as nine of the 10 teams are above .500. Santa Clara is 10-11 and that’s nothing to be upset about.

Gonzaga has non-conference wins over RPI top-100 teams in West Virginia, Arkansas, and New Mexico State thanks to its efficient offense. The Bulldogs are No. 2 in the nation in field goal percentage hitting over half their shots. They simply never miss as they scored over 70 points in 16 of its 19 games. Gonzaga comes in with a superior 17-3 record compared with BYU’s 13-8.

BYU’s offense has been even more explosive scoring over 80 points 16 of its 19 games. A tougher schedule has given BYU more losses but wins over Texas and Stanford have made up for it in the RPI.

I give the edge to Gonzaga at home but be sure to stay up late to watch this one. One, maybe both, will end up in the sweet sixteen.

St. Francis Brooklyn at Bryant, Saturday. 1:00 p.m. EST

With 12-8 records these two have the best seasons in the Northeast Conference. Unless 10-10 Robert Morris comes along, one of these two schools with get the automatic bid. Round one of this battle for a tourney spot is Saturday at Bryant.

St. Francis did score an upset at Miami to start the season so it does have a win against a top 100 team. Bryant’s best win came against average Vermont but it does play at home Saturday. Look for St. Francis to play hard and get the win after losing Thursday night to Fairleigh Dickinson.

Men’s Volleyball: No. 1 Pepperdine at No. 5 Long Beach State, Friday 10 p.m. EST

The men’s volleyball season is still warming up but we have a top-five match-up tonight when Pepperdine travels to Long Beach State. Pepperdine is a surprising No. 1 since it went 14-12 a year ago. The Waves went 4-10 on the road too and I seriously doubt those road woes can be fixed in one season. I expect Long Beach State to convert on this upset attempt at home.