2017 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Bracket: Few Surprises

#1 UCLA, 2017 MPSF Champions. Photo Courtesy: UCLA Athletics

Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

The NCAA released it’s seeding for the 2017 tournament, to be held May 12 – 14 at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis. There were almost no surprises—though the seeding committee may have underestimated how well the California Golden Bears are playing at the moment.

#1 UCLA; the Bruins are 22-1, newly crowned Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champs and are playing at a championship level. #2 Stanford (20-3) dropped the MPSF title game to UCLA but—led by two-time Olympic gold medalist Maggie Steffens—are a dangerous opponent. #3 USC (28-3) are the defending NCAA champs and can never be counted out.

The choice of UC Irvine (23-6), the Big West champion, as the 4th seed over Cal (15-8) of the MPSF may cause some grumbling. The Anteaters are on a 14-match win streak, but only one of their opponents over that stretch—#7 Michigan—was ranked in the top ten. During the MPSF Tournament, Cal beat #4 Arizona State, was leading #1 UCLA 8-7 midway through the fourth period until falling 9-8 and was leading #3 USC 6-5 in the fourth before losing 8-6.

UC Irvine and Cal will play in the first round on Friday, May 12; Michigan (28-8), coming off a tense 5-4 win over Princeton, will likely be relieved not to face the Tigers’ Ashleigh Johnson again, but getting the Trojans, who three weeks ago were riding the longest winning streak in NCAA WWP history (52 matches) is little consolation.

Wagner (25-10), which beat Marist 11-7 to win its fourth-straight MAAC title, will face UC San Diego (19-14), a 15-4 winner over Sonoma State for their fifth-straight WWPA crown. The winner of this play-in match on Saturday May 6 gets the privilege of facing UCLA in the first round on May 12.

In the other play-in game, Pacific (20-8)—a mild upset winner over San Diego State for the GCC title—on Saturday will face Pomona-Pitzer (14-16), which beat Whittier in the SCIAC Women’s Water Polo Championship. The winner gets #2 Stanford in Friday’s first round.

Two semifinal matches will be held on Saturday May 13 at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The 2017 NCAA Championship Match will be at 3 p.m. May 14. All times are EST.