May 27, 2013
Reactions to Regionals
By Sean Ryan
dust is beginning to settle as the NCAA has announced the Field
of 64 for the 2013 NCAA College Baseball Tournament. And there
are sure to be a few dust-ups.
Happy surprises included William & Mary, UC Santa Barbara, San
Francisco and Texas A&M. Disappointment reigned at Campbell,
Seton Hall, Notre Dame and Auburn. And even at Michigan State,
which didn't make the Big 10 tourney but was cited as the first
This year's bubble seemed more ambiguous than in years past. How
important would conference play be compared to overall RPI? How
about that finishing kick? Or strength of schedule? Each of the
final teams admitted to the national tournament have flaws, and
each of those left home do as well. It just seemed more
difficult to choose, say a Texas A&M over UC Santa Barbara, as
we did in our final projections (both ended up making the field
and will play each other).
Overall, the committee did a lot of good things. When we make
our projections, we try to read the minds of the committee,
which doesn't often match what we might do. One of our
suggestions was to find a way for San Francisco and William &
Mary to make the field. While we had both among our first few
teams out in our projections, the Dons and Tribe did in fact
make the field. And the inclusion of UC Santa Barbara (RPI 57)
shows that the almighty RPI may not be as almighty as it has
been in the past.
So, who has a beef?
* Campbell was the Big South's regular-season champ and lost in
the league tourney final to Liberty, on Liberty's home field.
The Camels' 49 wins and RPI of 42 seemed like it would be enough
to get them a bid. In the end, the committee cited strength of
schedule. We thought the Camels deserved a bid.
* Seton Hall finished second in the Big East and
piled up a 37-19 record. It dropped three of four to Notre Dame
over the course of the year. And the Pirates didn't play
Louisville or Pittsburgh, a knock according from the committee,
even though they couldn't control that. We thought Seton Hall
might have some trouble, as it went 19-17 against teams ranked
200 or better and 18-2 vs. teams ranked 201 or worse (per
WarrenNolan.com). The Fighting Irish couldn't overcome a
seventh-place finish in the league and came up just short in
losing in the Big East tourney final. A gaudy RPI of 34 and
aggressive schedule seemed like a good enough reason to put the
Irish in. We projected the committee would put both in but also
realized it would be tough to keep four Big East teams in the
field (Louisville and Connecticut were in). We're pretty shocked
that neither Seton Hall nor Notre Dame will play again.
* Auburn could present a good case, namely by
comparing its resume against two SEC brothers who likely were
lively discussions: Florida and Texas A&M. The Tigers won
head-to-head series against both the Gators and Aggies, and won
series against Ole Miss, Florida and Arkansas down the stretch.
The Gators (No. 2 strength of schedule) limped to the finish,
and the Aggies took advantage of a few extra games in the SEC
tourney, something Auburn couldn't do by losing to Alabama on
elimination day of the SEC tourney.
There are a few other spots where the committee could have mixed
* South Carolina is paired with Clemson for the second year in a
row. Clemson could have been sent elsewhere, possibly
Louisville, and others, including Miami or Georgia Tech could
have been sent to Columbia. And in the Super Regionals, if the
No. 1s win, North Carolina and South Carolina could do battle
* Speaking of repeats, the Fullerton and Los
Angeles Regionals are paired up with one another again. So, if
the No. 1s advance, Southern California's Titans and Bruins will
battle again for the right to go to Omaha. It would involve more
travel, but we're guessing Fullerton wouldn't have minded
hosting, say, the Starkville Regional, and UCLA wouldn't mind a
trip, to say Virginia, should all go according to form. Instead,
if both survive Regionals, throw the GPS away as UCLA knows the
route to Fullerton like the back of its hand.
* There must be some pretty good airline deals
from Oklahoma to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Oklahoma will be
making its third trip in the past four years to the state, this
time going to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech after two
previous trips to Virginia to play to Cavaliers. The Sooners
have enjoyed success in their previous trips, winning the 2010
Charlottesville Super Regional and the 2012 Charlottesville
While we'll go inside the bracket in much more detail, these are
some of our immediate takeaways.
* Liberty's coach is Jim Toman, who spent 18 years next to Ray
Tanner at NC State and then South Carolina. He'll be making his
15th Regional trip but first as coach of the Flames, and he'll
be taking his team to Columbia. Liberty and South Carolina
opened the season with three one-run games, with the Gamecocks
winning two of three.
* Florida Atlantic gets a trip to somewhere other
than Florida, which hasn't happened much. Something tells us the
Owls will relish the trip outside of the Sunshine State, even if
it happens to be to Chapel Hill, and the No. 1 national seed
* It could be a long shot, but if No. 4 ETSU were
to advance from the Nashville Regional to meet Louisville,
assuming the Cardinals advanced, it could be a matchup of
college teammates. The Bucs' Tony Skole and Cardinals' Dan
McDonnell played for The Citadel team that reached the 1990
College World Series. Louisville assistant coach Chris Lemonis
was also on that team. Skole remains close with the pair and
they talk frequently. Skole had the game-winning hit as the
Bulldogs beat Cal State Fullerton in the second round.
* Army has a return trip to the Charlottesville
Regional. Last year, it was a family reunion as Black Knights
associate head coach Matt Reid is the son of then-Virginia
defensive coordinator Jim Reid. The Cavaliers let Reid go in the
offseason, but we're betting he'll be back on campus to cheer on
* Central Arkansas and Mississippi State will
open the tourney against each other. UCA took two of three from
the Bulldogs during the season.