Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ann Arbor Regional?

According to ESPN's Jeremy Mills (you are probably more familiar with Jeremy's NCAA-Baseball.com site), Michigan might the get chance to host a regional. I find this a bit surprising in light of the Wolverines start, but Michigan does have several factors working in their favor.

First, the NCAA has looked for a northern host the last few years. Michigan is probably the only northern program deserving of that honor. Second, you have to have the facility to host a regional. Freshly renovated Ray Fisher Stadium fits that qualification, as well. Third, is ability to draw a crowd. Michigan has drawn fairly well this year. And, while several western programs merit hosting a regional, the honest-to-goodness truth is many of them don't draw particularly well.

If Mr. Mills' prediction were to come true, I think having San Diego and Notre Dame in Ann Arbor would indeed fill the seats. Now, would the Maize and Blue faithful hang around if the home side got bounced? That's another story altogether. But it would be the same story at any site where the host was eliminated.

The final factor working in Michigan's favor to host a regional is that they've been playing very good baseball for weeks. They would need to maintain that pace (basically, taking a minimum of three of four games each of the final two weekends) and might need to hold off Notre Dame in their annual late-May midweek meeting near Grand Rapids to stay in contention for playing host.

Jeremy Mills knows more about college baseball than I ever will, so if he says Ann Arbor's in the running I'm apt to believe. Yet, I'm just skeptical. I just don't see the committee taking a northern program with an RPI in the 30's a chance to host over all those other southern/western programs. Of course, I'm often wrong, too. Regardless, I'd love to see a regional that close to home.

Now, for those looking for a contrary point of view, or digging around for other regional predictions, Mark Etheridge at SEBaseball.com offers up his field of 64. He's got Michigan at Georgia. (Yikes!)

HT: College Baseball Dugout message board.

3 comments:

kowisja said...

Georgia would be a tough draw. The token northern host in SEBaseball is St. John's. I did a bit of inquiring...

Pros for SJU:
Newer stadium (2000) and just rededicated. Capacity 3,500. Located in Queens so transportation by plane easy.

Cons for SJU:

Average attendance @SJU this year is 266 (according to available box scores). They reached a peak last weekend against WVU with crowds of 358, 299, and 272. (largest three all year)

My other problem, St. John's is 7 places behind Michigan in RPI.

--------------------------

As far as proximity to other projected teams, Michigan would be close to both ND(#3) and Wright State (dayton, #4). SJU would be reasonably close to Canisius(buffalo, #4) but not so much Texas(#3) or Coastal Carolina (#1).

I wonder what the possibility of ND wanting to host a regional if they were to win out (including the BigEast tourney). They would probably bump up to a #2 seed. They've had decent attendance (1217/game not including the game @US Cellular Field).

Brian said...

I think ND is too far down in RPI to climb back into regional hosting consideration even if they win out.

Of course, if they did bounce STJ and win the Big East tourney and beat UM at the neutral site..... Nah, they are still too far out to host. Even if they are ND.

STJ can make a case, and they were the only other snowbelt program I thought had a chance to host. However, I believe the NCAA has a minimum attendance rule for a host school and if a few hundred is all STJ is drawing, that's not anywhere near the figure. (Over 1,500/game, I thought.)

A fine bit of research on your part, k.

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