May 26, 2008
First look at the Field of 64
By Sean Ryan and Phil Stanton,
Sixty-four in, several more left at the doorstep.
Two-time defending champ Oregon State is first in line. To say
it’s a shock wouldn’t be
right. A mild surprise, considering what the Beavers have
accomplished the past few years (three straight trips to Omaha).
Series wins over national seeds Georgia and Arizona State, as
well as Arizona, Pepperdine and UCLA should count for something,
even if committee chairman Larry Templeton said the 24 Beavers
losses were too many (the crushing blow likely was a sweep at
the hands of USC).
Granted, the past isn’t supposed to play a huge role with the
present, but OSU not
getting the call is surprising.
Namely because of the teams that did and were likely among the
last to slip in.
Oklahoma (with 24 losses!) might be the biggest shock (heck,
even the Tulsa World’s headline Monday morning read
“Sooners look to next year” after their Big 12 championship
loss). True, we had the Sooners in a couple days ago after a
couple nice wins in the Big 12 tourney, but we pulled OU late
last night mainly because of its 9-17-1 record in the
conference. We also pulled Baylor late and thought it would be
virtually impossible to choose between OU and Baylor, since the
Bears were two games ahead of the Sooners in the standings and
had a similar RPI (the Sooners did take two of three from the
Another thing on Oklahoma. We find it pretty interesting that
the Sooners made it with a substandard league record, and
another bubble team - Washington State - did not. The Cougars
had a RPI of 42 compared to Oklahoma’s 41 and took three of four
against the Sooners head to head. And then there’s Clemson,
which missed the cut for the first time in 21 years after a
rough regular season in the ACC but featured a gaudy RPI of 26.
Getting away from the big conferences, New Orleans and Tulane
slipped in, which likely hurt the chances for College of
Charleston. Both had better a better RPI than Charleston
(barely), and the Cougars’ lack of quality wins out of
conference likely hurt them. Still, we thought the Southern
Conference would get two teams in like it has in the recent
past. Every conference in the top 11 in RPI got at least two
teams except for the Southern, which ranked eighth (ahead of the
Sun Belt, CAA and Big East, which all got two).
It should be noted that the SEC led the way with nine bids
again, with Arkansas getting
in despite not making the SEC tourney. We’ve griped on and off
for years about nine
getting in from the SEC. The Hogs put up as solid a resume of
any of those ninth-place
teams, and we nudged them in late. The committee, led by
Templeton of the SEC, likely did as well.
Beavers, Cougars (Charleston and Washington State), Tigers and
Bears (Baylor and
Missouri State), oh, my, are left scratching their heads.