May 30, 2011


Leadoff Thoughts on Selection Monday

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder


The NCAA College Baseball Selection Show has come and gone.


And to keep with tradition, it’s time to marinate the steaks, ice the drinks and take a quick look at who’s going to be playing for the right to head to Omaha for the College World Series.


We’ll take a more detailed look later on today.


Let’s start with the elephant, er, Tiger in the room. LSU, with a RPI of 26 according to Boyd Nation at and the 47th strongest schedule in the nation, was left out of the Field of 64.


Surprising, since we and other national pundits had LSU safely in. Shows what we know…


We’ve become accustomed to the power conferences getting seven, eight, nine or even 10 bids to the tourney. And pretty much every time, we’ve complained that it’s too many, or that a team that doesn’t make its conference tourney doesn’t deserve to make the NCAA field, particularly in the SEC.

The SEC has seven teams in the field – we’ll have to check the last time it’s been so few. LSU finished ninth and missed the SEC tourney. Yet, we had them pegged to be in based on the RPI and strong finish, including a road series win at Mississippi State the last weekend of the year. We also thought a bevy of close games – including seven one-run losses in the league (two apiece to Florida and Arkansas) – would give them the benefit of the doubt.


On the ESPN broadcast, committee chairman Tim Weiser dinged LSU for beating up on the worst of the SEC teams and for not having enough of an out-of-conference sample to deem the Tigers worthy. We could be seeing a sea change in college baseball: The committee just called out LSU for its schedule. Year after year, SEC, ACC and other power schools welcome anyone who will come in for a home game and pick up three wins and seldom go on the road for tough games. This committee, for possibly the first time in recent memory, slapped a team for that.


As for who did get in, independent Dallas Baptist and St. John’s likely were among the last few teams to make the field.


DBU has a RPI of 45 but a schedule ranked 162. We chose Elon for our last spot over the Patriots, partly because of the schedule and that 12 of their 39 wins came against the SWAC. That said, there were some nice wins – TCU (2), Oklahoma State and Rice among them.


We also had St. John’s out of the field. With a RPI of 54 and SOS of 135, the Red Storm is the lowest rated at-large. We aren’t saying St. John’s isn’t a very good team. We were simply surprised to hear its name. The Red Storm (second in Big East) played some nice road opponents, getting a win at Georgia Tech and two at Georgia Southern early. But it also went 0-4 in North Carolina, losing to North Carolina, UNC Greensboro and Gardner-Webb (2).


Who else had gripes?


·        Elon won the Southern Conference regular season and had a RPI of 49. But the Phoenix dropped two straight in its conference tourney, and the typical strength of the SoCon wasn’t there this year. We had Elon in our final field, just ahead of Dallas Baptist and Cal State Bakersfield.

·        Cal State Bakersfield has to be looking at Dallas Baptist and thinking, “Why not us?” Also an independent, Bakersfield went 1-0 against Arizona State, went 1-2 at South Carolina, 1-3 against Kansas State, 1-2 against UCLA and 3-1 against Fresno State. With a SOS of 57 (more than 100 teams higher than Dallas Baptist), the Roadrunners were in the mix.


A few other quick hits.

·        Virginia as the top national seed would draw UCLA and its stable of pro pitching prospects in the Super Regional round if both survive this weekend. Rice, the No. 8 national seed, would get TCU. The committee sure does like making it tough on Virginia, which drew Stephen Strasburg and San Diego State two years ago in its Omaha season.

·        The committee seemed to send more teams packing and avoided some obvious matchups. Charlotte getting a trip to Arizona State wasn’t expected. East Carolina and James Madison getting out-of-state trips when they could have been kept in-state. But, you’re bound to have a few standbys: Miami and Florida anyone???

·        Fullerton looks like a tough Regional, and Fort Worth could be fun. Atlanta and Nashville appear likeable for the home teams.