May 28, 2012


Leadoff Thoughts on Selection Monday

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder



The grill will be smoking soon. But before we pause to remember all who have fought to make our nation what it is, here’s a quick look at who’s going to be playing for a trip to Omaha and a chance to win college baseball’s national championship.


We have grown accustomed to using this space to politely disagree with the NCAA committee – OK, some years downright bash the committee. Either we’re getting soft after doing this for 11 years, or this is one of those years where the committee did a good job with what it had to work with.


Our dilemma as we predicted what the committee would do came down to the final few teams. Nothing new there.


The issue this year was that you could make a case for about a dozen teams for the final four spots. And almost as easy, you could break the case for that dirty dozen. We were correct on three of those four – and 63 of 64 in the tourney – with Michigan State, East Carolina and New Mexico State sneaking in. We thought the committee would overlook Texas’ warts and accept the Longhorns, based on finishing third in the Big 12 regular season. But we were far from confident that after Missouri won the conference title that the Big 12 would get five teams in the field – I thought the committee might lean toward Southeastern Louisiana, Phil thought it might lean toward Wake Forest.


In the end, we missed on College of Charleston, which has been left at the altar several times since we began covering college baseball. Like the committee, we debated the merits of the Cougars and other schools. Charleston tied Appalachian State for the Southern Conference regular-season title and had wins over South Carolina, Clemson and Coastal Carolina. We feared the Cougars’ two-and-barbecue in the SoCon tourney might doom them. That said, we can’t argue with the committee’s selection here.


And we wouldn’t have argued much had Wake Forest, Southeastern Louisiana or Utah Valley State been chosen instead of Charleston, Michigan State or New Mexico State. Each had a case:

·    The Demon Deacons had a RPI of 34 and a strength of schedule of 34 (15-19 against the top 50), according to; losing three to Boston College likely hurt.

·    The Lions were 5-1 against the top 50 (although three game against another bubble squad in Indiana State) and 13-7 against the top 100; the RPI of 55 was solid, apparently not solid enough, and the strength of schedule at 124 could have factored (tough because it’s an aggressive schedule).

·    Utah Valley won 32 straight and 41 of 42. And it had wins over Arizona and Arizona State. But the committee decided a schedule strength of 242 was more important than a nation’s best 47 victories.


Hurting those schools – and Maryland, Virginia Tech, Elon, Gonzaga, Wichita State, Georgia and Tulane – more were the other NCAA probables that dropped like flies in their conference tourneys. All around the country, from UAB to Missouri and Samford to Creighton, there were more upsets than usual that flattened the bubble.


Interestingly, though, St. John’s got in last year with an RPI of 54 and SOS of 135, and Dallas Baptist made the cut with an RPI of 45 and SOS of 162. Elon didn’t make the cut last year after winning the SoCon regular season and boasting an RPI of 49.


A different year, a different committee.


So, where were the mistakes?


·    East Carolina and New Mexico State, bubble teams, not only got into the tourney, but also were given 2-seeds. While we know travel can play a role – ECU was sent to Chapel Hill, and NMSU was sent to Tucson – it’s tough to go from a bubble to a 2-seed, no matter the RPI (the Pirates were No. 30). We thought Coastal Carolina could have been a No. 2 seed instead, and we thought a little reshuffling could have given NMSU a 3 seed, namely sending Fullerton to Tucson as the 2.

·    We’re confused with Mississippi State, the SEC conference champ with a RPI of 19, being sent to national seed Florida State. While we love the matchup, MSU should have been sent to Coral Gables and UCF to Tallahassee. The Seminoles drew three conference champs, including the Bulldogs, one of the hottest teams in the country. The Hurricanes avoided the SEC – and Big 12 for that matter – but still will be tested, with a strong 3-seed in Missouri State and a strong 4-seed in Stony Brook. We thought as one of the last host sites, Miami would be tested even more.

·    Regarding possible Super Regional matchups, again, we were a bit surprised with Miami’s potential matchup with No. 7 LSU. While we’re cool with Miami avoiding matchups with Florida or Florida State, we thought as one of the last regional sites, it would be paired with one of the top three national seeds. We also thought the Gary Regional would be paired with one of the top three national seeds, rather than No. 5 Oregon. By the numbers, No. 1 Florida got a tough matchup with the possible matchup with NC State (RPI 9).