FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team finds itself perched precariously atop the NCAA bubble this week as they prepare for a pair of matches at the Fort Worth Plaza Invitational.
Arkansas enters the weekend with a 16-14 overall record after winning a share of its 10th Southeastern Conference Western Division title recently. The Lady’Backs face Texas Christian and Southern Methodist looking for a pair of much-needed wins giving Arkansas 18 on the year.
The Lady’Backs had a slow start to the year opening with a 2-8 record in its first 10 games but Arkansas faced nine teams who were named in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s preseason poll during that stretch.
That challenging pre-conference schedule ranks 10th in the country this year and was tops among the SEC.
In addition, the Lady’Backs faced better competition in the SEC this year than in the previous 10 seasons. In fact, the SEC is significantly stronger this year and is currently the third-ranked conference in the country according to an unofficial RPI rating.
The Big Ten Conference has seven teams ranked in the top 50 according to Rich Kern’s RPI index. The Big 12 is next with six teams in the top 50 followed by the SEC also with six teams.
In addition the SEC has had six teams get nine wins over Top 50 teams this year.
Finally, Arkansas has had the fourth most matches played against teams in the top 50 this year. Big Ten member Minnesota and Pacific-10 Pepperdine were first in the country with 18 matches versus the top teams. Michigan State was third with 17 followed by Arkansas with 16 this season.
The NCAA will determine Arkansas’ future this weekend announcing their selections for the 2004 NCAA Championships in a selection show Sunday, Nov. 28 at 5:45 p.m., on ESPN News.