National: Five Quick-Hits

Here are the top five things that came to my mind after seeing the NCAA tournament announcement show:

1- Newfound emphasis on non-conference schedules.
Selection committee Chairman Larry Templeton continually uttered the phrase, "teams need to play a better non-conference schedule." He even mentioned it in the post-announcement conference call with the media. To quote, "We've been telling teams for a couple of years now, play a better non-conference schedule."

2- The SEC getting only five teams into the field.
Usually we're used to seeing eight or even nine teams make it to the Big Dance from the monster conference. But just five? Wow. But Templeton, the Mississippi State A.D., even made the statement that the SEC's "non-conference schedules were not up to par."

3- The at-large teams with poor RPI's.
Troy (54), Oklahoma State (53), St. John's (51), Memphis (50) and Minnesota (49) were the highest-RPI teams to make the field this year. That's pretty surprising. It seems that for once, the committee didn't place sooooooooo much emphasis on the unreliable RPI formula.

4- More emphasis placed on in-conference performance too.
Templeton even said himself that the main reason Oklahoma (No. 27 RPI) and Georgia Tech (No. 29 RPI) weren't included in the tournament, was because of their 7th-place finishes in the Big 12 and ACC respectively. Hell, in the past, this kind of finish in the SEC still got those teams home regionals.

5- An unusual amount of respect for the Northern teams.
The Big Ten:
- Michigan, despite a 46 RPI, gets a 2-seed at Vanderbilt.
- Minnesota, a big-time bubble team, gets a 3-seed at San Diego
- Ohio State, the Big 10 tourney winner, goes to College Station as a No. 3 seed.
The Big East:
- Rutgers makes the short trip to Virginia as the No. 2 seed.
- St. John's, the regular season champion, is a manageable No. 3 in Myrtle Beach.
- Louisville goes to Columbia, Missouri as the 3-seed to face Miami in game one.
Missouri Valley Conference:
- Wichita State was given a home regional and No. 1 seed (despite the protesting from Louisiana-Lafayette.)
- MVC tourney champ Creighton was awarded a No. 2 seed in Fayetteville ahead of Big 12 3rd-place finisher Okie State.

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert