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Instant Reaction to the Field
of 64 (1:15 p.m.)
By Sean Ryan
New year, same old questions…
How does a team that doesn’t make its conference
tournament make the NCAA tournament? Why take the ninth-place
team over mid-majors that win their regular season titles and
falter one week of the season. What more can the smaller schools
My first reaction is sadness for Rhode Island.
The Rams lost their top spot in the Atlantic 10 late in the year
and then lost in the conference tourney final. Second best
clearly was not good enough in the eyes of the NCAA committee.
Yet, here again, a power-conference team that
finishes outside of its conference tourney makes the field.
Oklahoma State is in – somewhat amazingly as most college
baseball followers did not include the Cowboys in their
projections. Its RPI was bolstered by the stability of the Big
12, which this year received a shot in the arm from the likes of
Kansas State and Kansas. Give OSU some credit for playing a nice
early-season schedule, and picking up wins against Cal State
Fullerton, Oregon State, East Carolina and Arizona (2).
But don’t you have to feel for Rhode Island,
which didn’t play its first home game until April 1?
URI went down to Stillwater for a tournament and
split with Oklahoma State. The game it lost to the Cowboys was a
one-run game. In that same tourney, the Rams were pasted by Cal
State Fullerton but also lost a one-run game to the Titans.
Rhode Island won at Miami (Fla.) and also beat Ohio State on a
neutral Florida field.
Rewarding Oklahoma State is a mistake. The
Cowboys can play with anyone – at times. But they didn’t do jack
in conference. And if they were better than Rhode Island,
couldn’t they have at least swept the Rams in their home park?
Baylor was rewarded for a
rough finish (however, the Bears did well in the Big 12
tourney); San Diego was not.
Eastern Illinois and
Missouri State get shut out despite great seasons.
Southern Miss gets in. No
real problems with that, although most pundits had Rhode Island
ahead of the Golden Eagles.
Dallas Baptist left out
despite a RPI of 37. The Patriots didn’t have a ton of great
wins, although they did pound Baylor.
The Big 12 got all the
breaks, with three bubble teams making the field and Oklahoma
receiving a national seed. The chairman of the committee, Tim
Weiser, is the Deputy Commissioner of the Big 12. The ACC took a
hit with Florida State being bypassed for a national seed and
tourney champ Virginia sent to Irvine when the Cavaliers could
have stayed closer to home.