Monday Stuff - The Knee-Jerk Reaction To The Field Of 64 Edition

Okay stitch-heads, the field is set for the 64 teams to play in the NCAA tournament beginning this Friday. You ready? Did you watch the announcement show with a keen eye like I did? Are you happy with the results? Tired of my incessant questioning?

Get this: Arkansas made it. Oregon State didn't. Miami's No. 1. UC Davis is a No. 4. Clemson didn't make it. St. John's did. The RPI was used. The RPI wasn't leaned upon. Go figure.

DaveVanHorn.jpg
(Dave Van Horn and his Bono-like specs will be playing for another weekend this season after all)

So enough of this babble, here's what struck me about the tournament field after it was announced this morning...

.
KNEE-JERK REACTIONS---

- The neglected ones.
Here are the teams that didn't get into the Big Dance. Some of which have an argument, most don't. Either way, no dice.
* Oregon State.
Sure 28-24 isn't great. But they're better than the SEC champ Georgia and are the only team to beat Arizona State twice in Tempe this season. Shameful. Blame losses to Utah Valley State, Gonzaga, Portland and getting swept at USC hurt the most.
* Clemson.
It just doesn't seem right to have Jack Leggett's team out of the tourney. And by the way, at No. 26, this is the highest-rated RPI team not in the field. Again, no out of conference wins.
* Missouri State.
See, the MSU basketball team isn't the ONLY Bear team that gets the shaft from the NCAA selection committee. (In case you don't recall, the Bears basketball team was RPI No. 21 in 2006 and didn't get an at-large bid.)
* Baylor.
Turns out that sweep at Mississippi State wasn't so impressive after all. Losing two to ORU and going 11-16 in Big 12 play... tsk, tsk.
* College of Charleston.
I usually give credit to the mid-majors but going just 1-6 vs. Clemson, Coastal and South Carolina was an indication they didn't belong.
* Washington State.
The second highest RPI team not invited to the tournament, the Coogs finished at No. 43 but in last place in the Pac 10. Even if that IS the top conference in the country, still not nearly enough.


- Big West actually got some respect.
UC Davis got an at-large bid.
This was the 6th-place team in the Big West. Yes, 6th! But at 34-22 overall and some key wins speckled throughout, they deserve this one people. But you have to think that 3rd-place UC-Santa Barbara probably has a beef to get in as well. But it was the Ags that won two of three at UCSB back in April.

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(Who would've thought that back in early April that UC Davis head coach Rex Peters would be shaking the hand of an NCAA snubbed-coach after they had beaten Bob Brontsema's UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in two of three games)


- Mid-major fans of the world unite!
* Coastal Carolina gets a No. 1 seed and a regional host spot.
I feel better about life because of it.
* Michigan gets home regional.
Northern baseball has hope. Now if only Ohio State would follow and become a year-to-year power again.
* USD and Pepperdine both are 2-seeds
I think both have legit shots at taking down Jeckyl and Hyde teams in Stanford and Long Beach State.


- You could almost argue that the No. 2 seeded-teams have the better pitching staffs.
Check out the arms on this list of 2-seeds:
* Missouri.
There is still life beyond Aaron Crow that needs to reach its peak this week.
* UC Irvine.
Gorgon, Bilbona, Stowell are all under 3.10ERA. Reliever Eric Pettis has 15 saves.
* Michigan.
All the pitchers from last year's Nashville Regional are all back. Putnam and Fetter are great one-two punch.
* UCLA.
If wunderkind No. 3 starter Charles Brewer can step up, they can beat anybody.
* Wichita State.
Musgrave, Shafer and Capra all have ERAs below 2.74. Like their chances.
* Texas.
C'mon, it's Augie. He always has arms. Will they give Rice fits? Keep in mind that they've already beaten the Owls this year.
* San Diego.
Matusz and Romanski - possibly the best one-two combo when they're on their game - could carry this team all the way to week two in Omaha.
* Vanderbilt.
Cotham, Minor and Christiani are a better threesome than ASU can throw out there. So there you go.


- Toughest regional:
Miami.
Ole Miss and Missouri both have arms capable of rising to the challenge and pulling out some road Ws. But it would've made much more sense for well-armed Bethune-Cookman to be sent to No. 8 national seed Georgia in trade for Lipscomb or to No. 7 national seed LSU in trade for Texas Southern. The No. 1 national seed should've received an easier No. 4.


- Easiest regional:
LSU.
Speaking of the BR Regional, TSU is the worst team in the tournament and No. 2 seed Southern Miss (No. 36 in RPI) is not even as good as their RPI thinks it is. UNO was a bubble team at best, but does have potential, going 6-2 in games against Alabama, LSU and Tulane.


- Coach Fox's thoughts on the Cary Regional.
Thanks to the good Doctor of college baseball, Dr. Kenny Cook, North Carolina head coach Mike Fox admitted at his coach's show tonight that the Cary Regional field wasn't as tough as he thought he might get and made the statement, "Put it this way, you never assume things are going to be easy in the post-season, but if we lose, we'll only have ourselves to blame."


- Hey, whaddya' know, the West has been spread out a bit.
For the first time since the "new" format took shape in 1999, the West will have teams represented in all four quadrants of the NCAA field. And believe it or not, Arizona State's regional has zero other West schools in it (must be the Pat Murphy effect there since he's on the committee).

Although, UC Irvine is the only Westerner in the upper right quadrant, playing as the No. 2 seed at Nebraska and Arizona is the only Westerner in the upper left quadrant, playing as the No. 1 seed in the Ann Arbor Regional. But there are six Western teams on the left side of the bracket and six teams on the right side of the bracket. Sure beats last year's bracket that saw all 12 Western teams on the left side.

Hooray for progress!


- And speaking of travel...
Looks like the SEC will indeed have to use those AAA Tripticks after all. Check this out:
* Vanderbilt will head to the desert and play at No. 3 national seed Arizona State.
* Arkansas, who shouldn't be a part of this whole process, will play at Stanford.
* Kentucky, who played NOBODY in the pre-conference, will play at Michigan.
* Ole Miss will play their past post-season nemesis Miami in Coral Gables.


- But I DID notice this, part I.
Back in February when I saw Arizona State destroy Vanderbilt by a rather-hideous 18-6 mark, Pat Murphy said after the game, "I hate playing against Tim Corbin. He's one of my best friends in the coaching profession and I hate competing against him. And I'll tell you this much, his team will be in Omaha at the end. No doubt about it, they'll be there and I hope we can be there too."

Well coach, it will be at your expense now if the Commodores do make it there. As stated above, Murph is on the selection committee, so I wonder how much influence he tried to levy against having Corbin and the 'Dores placed out in Tempe this weekend? Hmmm, ponderous.


- But I DID notice this, part II.
When I went to the Miami-Florida State series in Tallahassee back in April, I was in the airport with Hurricane center fielder Blake Tekotte's parents (the Tekotte's live in Columbia, Missouri) and I asked them if they were hoping Blake would've gone to nearby Missouri instead of all the way down to Miami for school. They said, with a long pause in there, they just want Blake to be happy. But you could tell they wouldn't have minded him playing for the hometown Tigers.

Interestingly, the committee saw fit to send Mizzou to Coral Gables this weekend as the No. 2 seed. And wouldn't you know Ms. Tekotte told me in the airport that day, "We know almost all those boys on the Missouri team. Blake played against a lot of them in high school and in summer ball, so we're good friends with a lot of their parents." That should make for an interesting flight from St. Louis to Miami and back this weekend, don'tcha think?

Miami-BlakeTekotte.jpg
(Miami leadoff man Blake Tekotte will see a lot of familiar faces when his mates from his home state of Missouri invade Coral Gables for the Regionals)


- As for the ESPN Announcement Show...
Kyle Peterson was his usual smooth, informative self. I like his moxie and even moreso, his knowledge of the college game. Again, he's quite possibly the best part of ESPN's college baseball coverage. And Will Kimmey looked a little more comfortable than I've seen him in the past, thought still a tad stiff. And it's not totally his fault either, due in part to ESPN's "suits only" requirement, 'coz I know Will has more personality than he is showing here.

I do wonder what they have done with John Manuel the last two years? The Baseball America guru used to be the commentator for the announcement show for three or four years, up until last year, when Will Kimmey took the gig. Both are knowledgeable, but I guess they just like Kimmey more. I don't know, what do you guys think? Drop me a line.


- Couple of interesting quotes from Selection Committee chairman Larry Templeton, the Mississippi State Athletic Director, during the media teleconference that took place 30 minutes after the ESPN announcement show ended:

* "Oklahoma got into the field on the strength of their 16 non-conference games against the Top 100 in the RPI - which they went 11-5 against."
* "ESPN's guys read more into the strength of the Coral Gables Regional field. There are plenty of good, balanced regionals out there and we're comfortable with the field's balance."
* "We struggled long and hard on Oregon State because they were the two-time national champions. And if they weren't the two-time champs, we might not have struggled so much with the decision. But at the end of the night, those 24 losses and who they were against were what worked against them."
* "The SEC's overall strength of schedules did improve from last year. And since all those teams were all bunched together, it was hard to separate the nine teams from each other."
* "I actually thought LSU should've gotten a higher seed than No. 7. But there are 10 members on this committee and they all voted to have them down at No. 7."
* "It wasn't just one certain thing that made Arkansas get a bid. Their RPI was in the middle of the pack in the SEC and they also were one rainout away from being the 7th-place team in the conference and I think the committee understood that and took it into consideration."


- Is it just me or am I hearing more and more rumblings that Oregon State's Pat Casey is looking to move on from Corvallis? Maybe today's snub was too much for him to take? But being an Oregon native and loving Corvallis as I heard he does, it would be a surprise to me if he does fly the coop. But first, I gotta quit hearing these rumblings.


- Okay, there is actually more to write, but I'm getting long-winded here. Tell you what, I'll go ahead and jot down some more notes during the week and begin to also break down the regional field a little bit more for a Wednesday or Thursday edition.

Don't worry, it'll be worth it. I'm pretty sure.

G'night.

Comments

Regarding Pat Casey.... won't the fact that Oregon is starting baseball again seriously injure his program?

And I notice you mention Michigan and Ohio State - is there no hope for Minnesota? It is a CRIME how they treat John Anderson up here.

I guess you think a 28-24 team should get in because they have won two national championships before. That is absolutely absurd. It doesnt matter what teams have done in the past, this is a new year. Then again you do work for cstv.

JJ, you may have a point I didn't think about regarding Oregon starting up the program in Eugene, with George Horton and all that flashy Nike money and stuff. But I can't imagine Casey would cower at the thought of another Division I team in the state of Oregon. And you're right about Minnesota, though they have been good for so long (this being the first losing season since 1962), they don't need for hope. Despite his getting poor treatment, John Anderson has done a great job at the 'other' U.

And Frank. I don't think OSU deserves a bid 'coz their the two-time champs, they deserve one because they beat a whole host of good teams this year. And just 'tween you and I, I work for college baseball. CSTV is just kind enough to give me an outlet. I mean it's not like I'm one of those ESPN producers who kept doing an incessant amount of 'feel-good' stories during last year's CWS.

Thanks dudes

Eric

Hey Eric. The Wildcats appreciate the love man. It's gonna be a great weekend.

Top side note of the NCAA Regional... Long Beach Regional... Brother's Kevin Muno Soph. CF USD vs. Dan Muno Fresh. SS FSU. Kevin was voted all WCC and was the most valuable player of the WCC championship series. Dan was voted WAC Freshman Player of the Year. It will be fun to watch these two in action and makes for a good story to follow.

The fact that ANY 20+ loss team got a home regional is outrageous. Standford gets a regional barely winning 60% of their games and Irvine gets sent to Nebraska's Postage Stamp-dimensions field. And North Carolina State? Maybe their the 3rd best team in the state.

Tallahasse is the best place to be this weekend. FSU, Tulane, Florida! Let the hate flow through you!

stanford, not standford, and we won all but two weekend series the entire season

I have no desire to see Manuel back on the College broadcasts. Until my petition to get Harold Reynolds back on the air starts to generate some positive momentum. If you read the complaint there is more amore on a hug between heads of state than there was during the alleged assault or misconduct of Mr. Reynolds. He is the most talented fundamental teaching baseball broadcaster and Home Depot thought so highly of him they built him his entire set that was essentially a mini-baseball field for demos. He is the best broadcaster ever to emerge from Puget Sound or anywhere else and I would be a character reference for him anytime. He got blackballed and if he had been white he would be back on the air and the broadcasts would be a helluva lot more interesting again.

Larry Templeton says they gave michigan a regional because they wanted to make the tournament nationwide, and tossed in some comments about how they got passed by last year because the stadium wasn't ready. Sounds nice, except almost half of the regionals are in the deep south, 3 in north carolina alone. Doesn't sound very national. And as far as last year, Arizona got sent to Wichita last year, supposedly because of facilities, which have been upgraded this year. Too bad the ESPN hosts didn't really ask the tough questions.

You mention College of Charleston, but don't bring up Georgia Southern. Any reason? I'll be the first to admit that I'm an alumni-homer, but there is no reason to just pick C of C out of a hat and ignore GSU. Southern beat Michigan and Pittsburg this year, had a decent winning record, and had an offense in the TOP 3 NATIONALLY. They racked up more runs than most programs do in 2 seasons. They have a legit All-American in Chris Shehan, and he is a finalist on all of the major awards for player of the year. They have a core of all- conference players, and a 2nd or 3rd team A.A. in Ty Wright. The program has been to Omaha twice, been to numerous regionals over the years, and won an NAIA title in '61.

Elon was clearly the class of the SoCon this year, and was the only deserving representative from the Southern Confernece, but if it were a field of 84, GSU would have been right there with C of C as an at-large bid. Give the Eagles of Georgia Southern some props.

{Strong Pitching is the biggest thing that mid-majors generally struggle with. Elon had that area covered a little better than the rest of the SoCon.}

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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