No matter how you look at it. Sunday May 14th was black eye for the sport of Softball. In what is supposed to be an exciting time for sport with NCAA Tournanent teams being announced instead was a dark day for the sport with lots of anger and more questions then answers.
Despite being ranked No 1 in the NFCA Coaches Poll on May 16th. The Gophers will not be hosting a regional this week. Many people have expressed outraged to the point where the NCAA came out with a statement Monday night addressing Minnesota not hosting.
“The NCAA DI Softball Committee spoke at length over a three-day span about the University of Minnesota’s softball team, noting that many factors were considered regarding team seeding and that the final decision was difficult. As a part of the selection criteria, the committee reviews each team’s body of work individually when selecting the field of 64 teams for the softball tournament. When selecting the top 16 seeds the committee emphasizes a team’s performance against Top 25 teams along with other variables including strength of schedule. Additionally, two regular-season rankings were released, however, the rankings are not used by the committee when determining the seeds and final bracket that was released yesterday.
When the committee compared Minnesota against other teams being considered for the top 16 seeds, Minnesota did not have as many regular-season Top 10 and Top 25 wins as compared to other teams. The teams that were selected as the 16 seeds had at least one or more Top 10 wins and between four to 18 Top 25 wins. Minnesota did not have any Top 10 wins and only two Top 25 wins.
Furthermore, Minnesota’s strength of schedule was 114. The top seeded teams had strength of schedules ranging from 1 to 36.
Again, this was a very difficult decision and should not take away from the season that Minnesota has had thus far. We are excited about the parity in Division I Softball and look forward to a great tournament. ”
Now there some questions as a result from the statement.
“Additionally, two regular-season rankings were released, however, the rankings are not used by the committee when determining the seeds and final bracket that was released yesterday”
My Reaction : What was purpose of two regular -season rankings that were released if the commitee does not use it? Plus this statement contradicts what we were told back in April. Below is an excerpt.
“For the second straight year, the sport committee will reveal the rankings ahead of Selection Sunday. The early reveals will give a first glance at potential teams competing for top seed positions in the upcoming 2017 DI Softball Championship tournament.”
If i don’t reflect what you will do on Selection Sunday then what is the point of it?
Another issue that is not issued in the NCAA Statement Monday night is how does Minnesota who was ranked 7th on the May 6th release drop 10 spots to 17 in 8 days considering the Gophers won Big Ten Tournament adding two wins against top 35 teams in llinois and Ohio State who both made the NCAA Tournament.
Now the statement attacks Minnesota not having enough Top 10, Top 25 wins compared to the teams that are hosting and having weaker schedule then the 16 hosts site.
No one will debate the SEC and Pac 12 are by far better than the Big 10. SEC ranked No 1 in RPI with 13 teams in NCAA Tournament, Pac 12 is 2nd in Conference RPI with 8 teams making the field. The Big Ten is 8th but still was able to get five teams into the field of 64.
However Minnesota cannot control how good the Big 10 is. They have to play Big 10 schedule that is scheduled for them which included the Conference not scheduling Michgan-Minnesota as a result of Inbalance schedule. So Minnesota loses 3 quality games to no fault of theres.
SEC Teams and Pac 12 teams will always have more opportunities for quality wins then Big 10 teams due to Geography. Easier to play quality teams in South then in the Midwest especially with weather and budgets for traveling.
Just because you dont play in the top conference of the sport does not mean you can’t be one of the best teams in the country. Villanova won National Title in 2016 in College Basketball playing in the Big East Conference which was not close to the ACC, or Big 12 in Conference RPI.
2 years ago Michigan played for National Championship and was one win away from winning the title in Softball and got to host regional and super regional with the Big 10 being 6th best RPI conference.
So that is a flaw way to determine who are the best teams in a sport and who should host. One thing that is a good way to determine if a team tried to play a tough schedule is look at what they did out of conference. Minnesota spent the first two months of the season on the road and did not play a home game until April 4. The Gophers only played 16 games at home out of 57. Were 20-3 in true road games which is more then any of the team that is hosting.
Here is breakdown of Minnesota versus host teams In Non Conference quality wins thru May 7th going into the final week before Selection Sunday.
Team Wins vs Top 25 Non Conf, Wins vs Top 50 Non Conf, Schedule Strength
Florida 4-1 6-1 26
Oregon 5-0 9-0 45
Auburn 3-2 9-2 75
UCLA 7-5 12-5 3
Arizona 3-1 8-1 30
Washington 6-2 10-3 7
Florida State 4-6-1 8-6-1 2
Texas AM 4-1 10-1 37
Tennessee 1-1 4-2 112
Baylor 5-1 10-4 4
Oklahoma 3-4 6-5 28
Minnesota 2-2 8-2 81
Alabama 1-4 2-4 32
LSU 0-3 4-4 31
Utah 2-1 2-3 67
Kentucky 2-2 2-2 52
Ole Miss 0-1 1-3 149
Minnesota has more top 25 wins outside of the conference than Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Has more Top 50 wins outside of conference then Alabama, Utah, Kentucky and Ole Miss combine.
Keep in mind that all Minnesota wins happen away from home. The Gophers non conference Schedule ranking was better than Tennessee, Ole Miss and right there with Auburn and Utah.
The Gophers did what they could do outside of the conference. You can’t predict how your opponent’s end up doing after you play them.
But these numbers shows that Minnesota is right there with the host teams when it comes to quality games and quality wins. The big difference is the other hosts get more opportunities than Minnesota because of the conferences they play.
Plus Minnesota has better RIP (11) from Monday May 14th then then Oklahoma (12), LSU (14), Alabama(15), Kentucky (17), Ole Miss (18), and Utah (19).
Yet the Gophers were seeded lower while Kentucky, Ole Miss and Utah were seeded higher than the RPI.
One has to wonder if the committee panicked when Ole Miss won the SEC Tournament and had to take a host team out to put in Ole Miss in that spot?
That still does not justify Minnesota not hosting. If you had to flip Ole Miss in and take someone out. Utah, Baylor and Kentucky would be candidates to take out in favor of Ole Miss. Not Minnesota.
No matter what statements come out and any defense is used. It will not hold water and it will not change the fact that the sport integrity has been hurt and the NCAA Tournament has been compromised.
Here hoping for the sport sake in the future that we learn from this and that people take the time to do research or more importantly take the time to watch these teams play because anyone that has watched Minnesota play on TV or in person and have knowledge of sport would agree that Minnesota is one of the best 16 teams in the country. Too Bad the committee didnt take the time catch a Gophers game.
Check out our podcast as we go in depth on what happened to Minnesota and why and field of 64.