Monday, May 26, 2008

Live Blog: Tournament Selection Show

It's approximately forty-five minutes until the NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show on ESPN. As Michigan is hosting a regional, and the only Big Ten representative in the field of sixty-four (yeah, I'm going out on a limb), I'm going to attempt to live blog along with the show.

However, in this time before the show kicks off, I'm going chat a bit about who might be coming to Ann Arbor.

11:48am Much of who comes to Ann Arbor depends on whether or not Michigan gets a #1 or #2 seed. Friend of BTH, CBS College Sports' Eric Sorenson cranked out a selection show preview and suggested that the NCAA implied that Rich Maloney's nine will be a #2 seed.

I guess I'm not surprised. While the southern programs and media are blatantly anti-northern baseball, in fairness, this year just simply has not been as strong a season for snowbelt programs as 2007 was.

You can make a case that Michigan merits a #1 seed, but I wouldn't get my shorts all up in knot if they are a #2 and host.

Noon My fear, though, is that in spite of having more northern voices on the selection committee, Michigan will land a #2 seed and get "punished" by the committee with a brutal bracket. (The old "Oh, you want to host a regional do you?" theory.)

The list of power programs not hosting this week is lengthy. Georgia Tech tops the group and would seem like the most likely #1 seed to travel to Ann Arbor should UM be a #2 seed. However, the list of programs looking at a road trip also includes Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and Texas to name just a few.

12:15pm Fifteen minutes to go. I've flipped stations over to ESPN. No audio on, though. That will have to wait a quarter of an hour.

12:17pm I've had this gut feeling that South Carolina is coming to the Ann Arbor regional. No rationale behind it. Just a feeling. However, that was before I learned that the Yellow Jackets were not hosting and in the top ten in RPI. If Michigan is indeed a second seed, I'd be a tiny bit surprised if Tech wasn't in Ann Arbor this coming weekend. Either would be great, though.

Let me get back to my "punishment" theory. As an example, I could see UM as #2 seed, GA Tech as the #1 and a program like Kentucky, Missouri or San Diego being the #3. I could also see Georgia Southern, Texas-San Antonio or Sam Houston State getting the number four.

When you are in a double elimination format, all brackets are tough. Only 64 programs get in. Yet, I can't see the selection committee watering down an Ann Arbor regional, if they presume UM is a "weak" #2 seed. Which, in light of the Big Ten's performance, would not shock me.

12:25pm Five minutes to go. Better head to the kitchen now.

12:30pm Here we go.

12:35pm Miami is #1 overall. Can't disagree. Carolina #2. ASU is #3. Florida State is #4. #5 CS-Fullerton. #6 Rice. #7 LSU. (All hosts, so far.) #8 is Georgia.

12:38pm It's Arizona, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky visting Ann Arbor.

12:39pm Yes, Michigan is a two-seed. (Yikes, Arkansas gets in. They didn't make their conference tournament field.) Michigan will open with Kentucky. Lots of offensive potential, so expect a pitching duel Friday. The Wildcats of Arizona open with EMU.

I agree with ESPN's Will Kimmey, Miami got a tough regional with Mississippi and Missouri.

12:45pm Here are the official links to Michigan's opposition. Arizona. Kentucky. EMU. It's a tough bracket, but most are.

No Oregon State? The two-time defending champions are left out. Ouch.

12:49pm Still whining about Michigan hosting? Please. I don't care if the Wolverines get bounced out after two, they merit a chance to host. Kimmey defends Ann Arbor hosting. He makes all the obvious points.

12:55pm If I were a Michigan coach, I'd be playing up the fact the nation still does not believe.

12:58pm Graphic points out how many top programs Arizona has beaten this year. That's an impressive resume. Kyle Peterson calls the Wildcats, Arizona-version, "dangerous". Um, yeah.

Well, show's over. My initial thought is that the Ann Arbor regional is tough. Everyone is drooling over Arizona, and rightfully so, but Kentucky is no walk in the park, either. EMU is certainly familiar with the Wolverines, as well.

I've got to move onto other things, but I hope to be back later and share some more thoughts. Carry on while I'm gone.

Update (4:30pm): I haven't gone through all the brackets, but I think it's safe to call the Ann Arbor Regional one of the most difficult. If you use the official RPI from the NCAA, which I admit has not been updated through the conference tournaments, the Ann Arbor regional has three teams in the top 37 -- Arizona (15), Kentucky (30) and Michigan (37).

Boyd's World's pseudo-RPI, which has been updated through today, has the three programs all inside the top 35 -- Arizona (10), Kentucky (33) and Michigan (35).

If you want to use the polls, both Baseball America and the NCBWA think Ann Arbor has three of the top 30 in attendance. BA actually has all three inside the top twenty-five.


kowisja said...

Unfortunately I'm not sure which is the lesser evil out of any of the options. Florida choked in the SEC tournament. GT went 1-2 in the ACC tournament. They hung close with Miami, but lost to Clemson. Ouch.

We already lost to ECU once this year.

SteveM said...

I think I'm beginning to understand how the PAC-10 football teams feel when they see the football polls come out each week, and they are ranked lower than they should be.

A team should be rewarded for its RPI -- up to a point.

But Arkansas?

As for Michigan, when you win your conference championship, go undefeated in your conference tournament, have the same team back that eliminated last year's number 1 seed on that team’s home turf (Vanderbilt), and your getting ranked 18th, something's wrong somewhere.

I see that Michigan could face the number 1 seed again on that seed’s home turf in Miami. This Michigan team is fully capable of eliminating that number 1 seed as well.

And if Miami should get upset in its regional, I don’t see how Michigan can be denied a super-regional host based on what they have accomplished on the field of play.

Chuck said...

I'm just going to worry one game at a time. And I hope they set the game times quick, so I can schedule Friday appropriately.

Douglas said...

I can't share Steve's indignation about Michigan's placement.

First off, last year is last year. There are no (nor should there be) IOUs or "credits" that transfer from one season to the next.

Let face facts, outside of Michigan, the rest of the Big Ten was REALLY bad - so it would the equivalent of Hawai'i going 12-0 in football and then people wondering "where is the respect"? You don't credit for being an elite team by winning games against Tomato cans. Look at some of the non-conference games being played by Big Ten teams - they were losing to MAC teams regularly - teams that couldn't beat EMU in a conference tournament.

If you take out the games against EMU (a sub-500 team), Michigan is 1-4 against the NCAA field. Sure, Putnam was not 100% as a pitcher for some of those games.

Playing these game in Ann Arbor is a gift - especially if you use the arithmetic that suggests that Arizona is #16 overall, making Michigan #17. ( I conceed that taking that to mean that EMU is #49 is where the logic falls apart). Home field is a gift - espeically a home field that is as exciting as it appeared to be on television last Saturday night.

By my estimation - Michigan's ultimate achilles heel is the lack of a solid #3 (or beyond) starter. Lots of pitchers look pretty good coming out of the bullpen (Burgoon), but just aren't as effective as a starter. Michigan simply HAS to win the first two games to have a chance in this tournament. How Michigan's offense will respond in facing exceptional pitching for the first time in two months is also unknown.

Any word on TV? The NCAA allowed the BTN to pick up some of the NCAA softball regional games being played by B10 teams that would have gone un-televised without.

Brian said...

Douglas, in this political season, allow me to take the middle ground between you and Steve.

I concur that results from last year shouldn't be factored into this year. However, there's no denying that's exactly what happens when the polls in any sport come out.

The preseason rankings are usually based on last year's result combined with returning starters. I guess you could toss recruiting class in as well.

Certainly, teams can play their way into or out of the polls, but if you start the season as highly thought of, you are far more likely to end up in the top 25.

And taking that a step further, the traditional powers in all sports get an advantage based on one thing -- history.

With only a minimal knowledge of the collegiate baseball landscape, one could assume right now that the majority of SEC and ACC programs will be ranked in 2009. So, too, will Texas, Fullerton, etc....

Not only does last season matter in the polls, so does the last decade. History buys you credibility and respect.

Thankfully, college baseball's championship is decided on the field, not by the polls.

I agree that UM's pre-conference record wasn't as good as last year's. That hurt them in the polls and I believe it should have. Just as I thought their success early in '07 merited them more recognition than they received.

I also agree that you can make the tomato can point. UM didn't have anyone of note (perhaps, ND?) in the latter half of their non-conference schedule.

It didn't help anyone in the Big 10 that their down season came at the same time as MAC programs struggled.

However, let's be clear. There aren't a lot of programs in this neck of the woods that can boost your RPI. Who could they really play?

If you are a program in Texas, California or Georgia, you can drive down the road and grab RPI points just by pulling in the parking lot. (Or have them drive into your parking lot, which is more often the case.)

And, trust me, nobody from a power conference is coming up here to play. Oh, the northern schools are welcome on campus anytime they'd like to come, but a return visit north? Don't hold your breath.

I'd have a bit more sympathy to the power conferences concerns, if they had the courage to play up here periodically.

I'm not sure I'd classify UM hosting as a gift. That would imply it's completely unmerited. I might be willing to call it a reward or even a concession.

UM has ponied up to get into the NCAA Baseball game. Maloney's club has traveled to take on the bigger programs, has dominated the conference for three straight seasons, won some impressive non-conference games both in the pre- and post-seasons and built a new ballpark.

Basically, they've done all they can do within reason to merit hosting a regional. That's why I don't quite consider it a gift, it's more of a reward.

In their ongoing effort to appease the the deep-pocketed northern conferences, the NCAA does try to balance the tournament host sites. In that sense, I'd call hosting a concession.

Until the day comes that the power programs venture north during the regular season, I don't have much problem with the NCAA tossing a regional or two north and forcing the traditional powers to see how the other half (or maybe third) lives.

I completely agree that UM's problem is finding a third and fourth starter. I also concur that staying in the winner's bracket is vital.

Haven't heard a thing about TV, yet.

Chuck said...

The student newspaper at Arizona posted this sports blog last night:

Their major point? The Wildcats haven't done so well in chilly weather, so it's unfair they have to go to Michigan for a regional. Talk about seeing how the other half lives!

kowisja said...

I posted a rather long comment on that blog the day it came out. I listed every #2 seed to host over the last 5 years and their outcome in the regional. I think 3 of 10 or so advanced, including 2 past the Super Regionals to the CWS.

I guess I crossed a line when I listed the highs for the weekend, stating I can't imagine you thinking 75-80 is chilly?

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