Sunday Summations - The What-You-Expect-Me-To-Sleep? Edition

Conference Tournament Sunday. Hmph. This always brings me conflicted feelings over its passing. I mean, I love the intensity of elimination baseball. But I hate that it also eliminates some deserving teams, even to the point of missing the NCAA post-season altogether. Don't get me started on that.

So as I write this, we're about 12 hours away from the announcement show. Why do I feel like a kid trying to get to sleep on Christmas Eve when Santa is making his rounds? Maybe I should just make this an all-nighter instead of actually trying to feign like I'm going to get any freakin' sleep. Damn.

Let's start tonight's discussion with the post-season locales that we'll see this weekend.

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The Host Sites---
First, our favorites, the mid-majors that will host:
Wichita State
San Diego
Coastal Carolina

Then the not big crowds, but seasons rewarded locations:
Long Beach State
Missouri
Vanderbilt

The no-brainers:
Arizona State
Florida State
North Carolina
Rice
Texas
Virginia

And the shake-your-moneymakers hosts:
Arkansas
Texas A&M
Mississippi
South Carolina


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10 Questions---
Not to rip off my weekly college football columns, but here are 10 questions we have to ask before tomorrow's announcement show.

1- Are we looking at just five (5) SEC teams in the NCAA tournament?
Mark Etheridge was right. Two weeks ago he wrote about the monster conference getting only (gulp!) five bids. That looks like reality now with Alabama, Tennessee and Florida crapping out after just one win in the SEC tourney. Then again, I subscribe to the Dick Vitale theory of "no more than five teams from each conference should get in." Sorry... so sue me.

2- Does Wake's ACC run ruin things for Georgia Tech?
The ACC could conceivably get eight teams in. The Deamon Deacons were on the fence until they blitzed their way to the ACC title game, losing today by a 3-2 count to North Carolina. Now, you have to think they're in. But does that knock Tech onto the wrong side of the bubble? Their No. 27 RPI coming into this weekend was pretty good. But even died-in-the-wool Tech fans have told me this team isn't very good. They didn't look bad when I saw them against Maryland during the Final Four weekend, but any team with Matt Weiters and Danny Payne on it, shouldn't be sweating it out.

3- What do we do with UCLA?
Had the lead the Pac 10 up until two weeks ago, but they lost twice to Oregon State this weekend. The RPI was at No. 44. And their record is now 29-26. But shouldn't they get credit for getting on airplanes and playing anyone and everyone early on? And a 3rd place finish in the Pac 10 has to say something. My gut says they're in. My other hunch is that they're going to be bad ass next year.

4- Did Oklahoma State play its way out of the Big Dance?
With the RPI at No. 46 going into the Big 12 tournament, the Pokes did themselves no favors by going 0-3 this week. But like UCLA above, you have to like OSU's finish in conference play (3rd place), especially in the No. 3 rated conference in the country.

5- Will we really see three WCC teams again this year?
With Gonzaga's impressive late run, 2nd place finish in the WCC and also going 3-3 vs. San Diego and 2-1 vs. Pepperdine, are people going to think their No. 78 RPI a true indication of this team? Alright, here's the deal... Anyone who scoffs should go ahead and schedule a trip to Gonzaga sometime. T'ain't an easy team to beat. Nor an easy trek to make.

6- So does the committee give Minnesota and Michigan the benefit of the doubt and give them bids? Really?
With Ohio State winning the conference tournament, are Michigan and Minnesota both worthy of getting in? Because of weather and fate, the two best teams in the Big 10 never did get a chance to play each other. But both have very good non-conference wins from early this year. The Maize and Blue won the Big 10 regular season, so that should score brownie points (as long as none of those nimrods from the 2002 selection committee are still around). Minnesota beat teams like Arkansas, Pepperdine and Ole Miss. That's enough for me.

7- While we're on the three-bid train, what about the Big East?
Another mid-major regular season champion is on the fence as St. John's, who went three-and-out in the Big East tourney, is sweating with an RPI at No. 49 last week. Louisville is the Big Easterner with the best RPI, at No. 41 last week. Do all three get in? If we listen to LSU coach Paul Maineiri, the answer is yes. He has said in the past, "People don't realize how good of baseball is played in the Big East."

8- When, oh when, will the smaller conferences go ahead and get rid of their post-season tournaments?
No offense to teams like Albany, Kent State, Monmouth and Sam Houston State, but the regular season has to count for something. Again, you small conference guys aren't raking in huge amounts of money for these tournaments, so just go ahead and send your best team, not the ones that got hot for a weekend.
Here are the regular season champions that will get the shaft:
Binghamton (28-19)
Eastern Michigan (32-24)
Quinnipiac (29-18)
Mount St. Mary's (35-22)
Texas-San Antonio (36-22)

9- Will the Great Western Funnel Effect be worse than ever this year?
Believe it or not, it probably won't be. Why? It's mainly because there will be only three regionals located West of the Rockies and there's a chance that we could have 12 western teams in the field. So there's no way the committee can wedge all 12 teams into three Regionals... at least I don't think. If the Pac 10 and Big West both get four teams in, as it appears will happen, then at least two teams will get sent back East. Of course, we'll have to see how the Super Regional matchups turn out.

10- Who will be the highest RPI rated team to miss out on the Big Dance?
(In other words, in basketball, this would be the "Missouri State Award" since the Bears have been No. 21 and No. 32 in the last two basketball seasons and not been an at-large pick.).
My vote goes to No. 35 Kansas State.
I know it's totally unfair, but even coach Brad Hill said this week at the Big 12 tournament that he felt his team would need to win the tournament to make the field of 64. Otherwise, it's obvious that the answer then falls to No. 41 Florida.

Okay, that's it. I'm going to try to get some sleep anyway. Guess I better start counting sheep. 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 64.

G'night.

Comments

The regionals have been announced, so where will you be next weekend? Also, what is the TV schedule going to look like for ESPNU and CSTV?

The regionals have been announced, so where will you be next weekend? Also, what is the TV schedule going to look like for ESPNU and CSTV?

Hey Ryan.

Thanks for readin'. Next weekend sees me at the Manhattan Regional... (okay, that was my attempt at being funny, which is sad). I'll be in New York doing some in-studio work/commentary for the network there. Of course I'd rather be at a ballpark, but duty calls. And I'm happy to do it, of course.

E.

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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