May 26, 2008


First look at the Field of 64


By Sean Ryan and Phil Stanton, Co-Founders


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 Bears).

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.