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The 2004 Tournament Field
Publication Date: June 2, 2004
OK, Let's Just Play
In the end, it's not that it's unfair, although it is, or that it's morally wrong, although it is, or that it hurts the game and its development, although it does. It's that it's boring. They keep making the same mistakes or doing the same wrong things, take your pick, every year, and it just gets tiresome after a while rather than enraging. It doesn't rise to the level of full-scale evil, so the phrase "the banality of evil" doesn't really apply, but I keep envisioning Charlie Carr and Skip Bertman dressed as the character Phil, Prince of Insufficient Light, from Dilbert, complete with floppy suit and giant spoon. Probably best to let that one go. Anyone who wants the full rant can go read the 2001 tournament field discussion.
How much originality would it have taken, though, just to switch Washington and Arizona State? Everyone at ASU is probably quite confused at this point by actually being seeded correctly, and it would have avoided that dreadful repeat of both of the Stanford-Beach and Fullerton-ASU matchups.
I'll have a table included in my discussion of each regional, so I need
to describe the columns.
W-L -- Won-loss record
RPI -- Pseudo-RPI ranking
ISR -- ISR ranking
Probs -- The probability of the team winning the regional, super-regional, and championship, respectively, according to the method based on ISR gaps I usually use.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Texas 50-13 2 2 80/62/19 Oral Roberts 45-9 36 29 13/ 6/ 0 Texas Christian 38-24 42 43 8/ 3/ 0 Youngstown State 20-30 227 228 0/ 0/ 0
Everyone's seeded right, Texas is #1a in the country at this point, so they're a defensible national number one seed, and TCU got in by taking it out of the committee's hands. Nothing more to see here, move along.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Virginia 42-13 16 31 38/10/ 0 Vanderbilt 42-17 13 14 54/18/ 2 George Mason 39-17 50 76 6/ 0/ 0 Princeton 27-18 126 138 1/ 0/ 0
The top two seeds are switched for no reason at all that I can see, but George Mason's not really good enough to make that a major problem. The RPI tends to result in overseeding for the ACC and SEC teams, but that's not really the biggest problem for some of the improperly omitted Western teams; it's bids for undeserving mid-major teams from the Southeast. I count four this year. The odd thing is that George Mason can't even really be justified by the RPI; they're just there because of this odd fetish by the committee. Everyone talks about it as if it came down to a choice between George Mason and, say, Auburn, as though it were a case of rich SEC team selfishness, but it's not -- it's a choice between George Mason and Oregon State or Cal Poly, and we're the poorer for it.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Arkansas 46-14 12 17 54/30/ 2 Wichita State 47-14 37 32 28/13/ 1 Missouri 37-21 53 49 17/ 7/ 0 LeMoyne 36-19 144 150 1/ 0/ 0
Arkansas as a national seed? Which nation? Missouri presumably played themselves in this week at Nebraska's expense, which is just silly; it's another example of the kind of false dichotomies the committee sets up for themselves. All told, it leaves us with a really blah-looking field here.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Florida State 42-20 6 19 55/29/ 2 Oklahoma State 37-22 31 28 30/15/ 1 Central Florida 44-16 35 54 15/ 5/ 0 Bethune-Cookman 27-26 199 206 0/ 0/ 0
At least they didn't go overboard on honoring the RPI with FSU. I'm curious about how much effect the late finish to the ACC tournament had. The super pairing here is really bad, since there's not really a team in the eight who deserves as clear a shot at Omaha as they have.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Georgia Tech 41-19 10 20 45/26/ 1 Texas Tech 38-19 30 30 29/16/ 1 Mississippi State 34-22 27 36 24/12/ 0 Jacksonville State 31-27 144 136 1/ 0/ 0
You know, when I saw the national seed, I just assumed that it was RPI-based; I didn't actually notice until now that it's not even justifiable through those means. 19-game winning streaks are not to be sneezed at, but they should be taken in context better than this.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Georgia 38-20 11 21 42/23/ 1 Clemson 36-24 17 39 27/12/ 0 Birmingham-Southern 44-16 40 53 19/ 8/ 0 Middle Tennessee State 40-20 59 64 12/ 4/ 0
And another dull one. Did you notice that we've now gone two consecutive super pairings and five straight regionals with no team with a better than 2% chance of winning it all? Middle Tennesse is the best of the four seeds, which should not be confused as a sign that there's actually any reason for them to be here; it's probably a good argument for play-in series.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Stanford 44-12 9 1 71/56/20 Long Beach State 36-19 26 8 27/16/ 2 St. John's 36-21 54 73 1/ 0/ 0 Nevada-Las Vegas 37-22 112 74 1/ 0/ 0
So, you have two teams who are head and shoulders above everyone else in the country. What do you do? Obviously, you put them in the same bracket if they get to Omaha, silly. How you feel about the Long Beach placement probably depends on how much you believe in momentum. Although it makes sense, I've never been able to find much evidence that hot or cool streaks late in the season tend to transfer to the postseason, so I think this is patently unfair.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Notre Dame 49-10 19 25 32/ 7/ 0 UC Irvine 34-21 32 15 34/10/ 1 Arizona 30-24 38 16 33/10/ 1 Kent State 35-25 105 126 1/ 0/ 0
This is easily the best matchup of the regionals, which has nothing to do with fairness; Arizona as a #3 seed is a cruel joke. Even worse is that the winner, which has a 2/3 chance of being a Western team, gets shipped back out to Stanford.
W-L RPI ISR Probs South Carolina 45-15 4 9 66/39/ 4 North Carolina 41-19 33 45 20/ 7/ 0 Coastal Carolina 40-21 39 61 10/ 3/ 0 The Citadel 38-26 82 91 3/ 0/ 0
Depending on how you feel about Long Beach (see above), you could make a decent case for South Carolina as a national seed, although not quite as high as #4. It's hard to see UNC as a two seed, though, so there's essentially no competition here. The saving grace is that the super pairing looks tasty.
W-L RPI ISR Probs East Carolina 48-11 15 11 69/39/ 4 Tennessee 37-22 23 37 25/10/ 0 UNC-Wilmington 38-21 43 72 6/ 1/ 0 Stony Brook 29-25 169 177 0/ 0/ 0
See the above comment on competition, although Tennessee's at least a little better than North Carolina. ECU falls into the group of teams wishing this week that there hadn't been a conference tournament (see also LSU, Ole Miss, Texas State).
W-L RPI ISR Probs Arizona State 40-16 3 3 56/34/ 7 Cal State Fullerton 36-20 20 7 36/19/ 3 Minnesota 38-21 51 59 5/ 1/ 0 Pepperdine 28-30 138 66 3/ 1/ 0
The story from this season that may have the longest-term impact on the game is Arizona State's schedule. After years of mistreatment by the committee, they took matters into their own hands by scheduling series against Florida State, East Carolina, and Tulane instead of against equally-good Western teams, and have a #3 RPI to show for it instead of the #12-#15 or so that scheduling the Western teams would have netted them. It's not exactly what I've talked about as gaming the RPI, but it's awfully close. In this case, the team actually deserves their ranking, so I'm OK with it; it'll be interesting to see if other Western powerhouses follow suit. The grey cloud behind the silver lining, of course, is that they still got sent to Fullerton and still have to face Washington, most likely, in the supers.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Mississippi 39-19 8 13 37/15/ 1 Washington 37-18 22 5 52/27/ 5 Tulane 38-19 47 44 11/ 3/ 0 Western Kentucky 34-26 110 104 1/ 0/ 0
Remember when the NorPac teams were going to be added so that the SixPac teams could get some breathing room from beating up on each other? It's probably time to add Washington to Wichita State and Rice on the list of case studies of how to build great programs under difficult circumstances.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Miami, Florida 44-11 1 6 73/46/ 6 North Carolina State 35-22 21 47 14/ 5/ 0 Florida Atlantic 45-15 25 48 14/ 5/ 0 St. Bonaventure 29-20 187 191 0/ 0/ 0
Miami's come on strong and deserve a seeding somewhere around what they got, something I didn't think I'd be saying a few weeks ago. It's still hard to see them winning it all, but they do have the advantage of having Texas and Stanford on the other side of the bracket. Someone recently challenged me on using the phrase "seeded into Omaha"; this is what it looks like. The toughest team between the Hurricanes and Rosenblatt is #18 Florida.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Florida 40-20 5 18 43/20/ 1 Oklahoma 37-22 24 22 28/12/ 1 UCLA 33-27 49 23 28/12/ 1 CCSU 41-15 95 132 1/ 0/ 0
At least they didn't go in straight RPI order this year; I'm sure Florida's a bit displeased about that. It's nice to see UCLA here; it's a baby step, but those are worth something.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Rice 43-12 14 4 58/37/ 6 Texas A&M 39-19 18 12 26/14/ 1 Lamar 41-14 41 26 16/ 7/ 0 Texas Southern 18-33 249 262 0/ 0/ 0
Rice is another case of them ignoring the RPI's to our benefit. I talk about the California regionals a lot, but some of the Texas regionals are starting to resemble those bloodbaths; all three of the top seeds here deserved better.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Louisiana State 41-17 7 10 59/28/ 3 Southern Mississippi 44-17 28 24 29/11/ 1 College of Charleston 45-14 46 57 11/ 2/ 0 Army 37-13 107 128 1/ 0/ 0
Although Skip Bertman has taken much heat over his service on the committee (and he deserves an equal share of criticism with the other members for the continuing mismanagement of the last couple of years), it's worth noting that, even with the 2-and-q last week, LSU could have been a national seed and no one would have even batted an eye. An LSU-Rice super is one of the more interesting possible matchups out there.
W-L RPI ISR Oregon State 33-23 66 27 Nebraska 36-23 29 33 San Diego 35-21 72 34 Washington State 30-26 62 35 UC Riverside 33-24 70 38 Cal Poly 38-23 79 40 Southern California 24-32 45 41 Loyola Marymount 32-22 88 42
Pitch Count Watch
Rather than keep returning to the subject of pitch counts and pitcher usage in general too often for my main theme, I'm just going to run a standard feature down here where I point out potential problems; feel free to stop reading above this if the subject doesn't interest you. This will just be a quick listing of questionable starts that have caught my eye -- the general threshold for listing is 120 actual pitches or 130 estimated, although short rest will also get a pitcher listed if I catch it. Don't blame me; I'm just the messenger.
|May 26||Richmond||Rob Berzinskas||Duquesne||9.0||6||2||0||3||7||33||36||141(*)|
|May 26||Gardner-Webb||J. Long||Florida Atlantic||8.0||13||7||6||2||6||35||40||146(*)|
|May 26||Charleston Southern||R. J. Swindle||Birmingham-Southern||9.0||8||1||1||5||10||33||39||143|
|May 26||Coastal Carolina||Steven Carter||Radford||9.0||11||2||2||0||8||36||36||122|
|May 26||George Mason||Gant||Delaware||8.0||7||5||4||1||4||31||32||133|
|May 26||Memphis||Jarrett Grube||Southern Mississippi||6.1||7||3||3||2||10||27||30||128|
|May 26||Alabama-Birmingham||Jeff Brown||Tulane||8.0||11||4||4||4||4||33||39||146(*)|
|May 26||Northern Illinois||Joe Piekarz||Miami, Ohio||9.0||8||4||2||2||4||35||39||147|
|May 26||Eastern Michigan||Ryan Ford||Ball State||9.0||8||4||4||3||15||34||39||149|
|May 26||Arkansas||Clint Brannon||Tennessee||11.0||6||3||3||2||7||38||43||148(*)|
|May 26||Elon||Matt Garner||North Carolina-Greensboro||9.0||6||3||3||2||8||31||35||146|
|May 26||Davidson||Brian Akin||Georgia Southern||9.0||9||2||2||3||7||31||37||131|
|May 26||The Citadel||Jonathan Ellis||East Tennessee State||9.0||10||2||0||1||9||36||38||134|
|May 26||Florida International||Mark Worrell||New Orleans||6.1||8||3||3||3||7||26||30||124|
|May 26||New Orleans||Thomas Diamond||Florida International||7.2||4||4||2||5||7||26||34||125|
|May 26||Western Kentucky||Hinchman||South Alabama||8.0||6||1||0||4||7||30||35||144(*)|
|May 27||Rhode Island||Dan Frederick||St. Bonaventure||8.1||7||5||4||5||4||32||37||143(*)|
|May 27||Georgia Tech||Micah Owings||Clemson||8.2||8||6||6||5||9||34||39||146|
|May 27||Michigan||Jim Brauer||Ohio State||9.0||8||4||2||2||5||36||38||130|
|May 27||Minnesota||Glen Perkins||Purdue||9.0||2||1||0||0||15||29||31||131|
|May 27||Oklahoma||Mark Roberts||Texas Tech||8.0||4||1||1||1||12||27||30||128|
|May 27||Boston College||Chris Lambert||Notre Dame||8.0||2||2||0||2||8||26||30||121|
|May 27||Birmingham-Southern||Wes Letson||Radford||9.0||8||1||1||1||12||35||36||133|
|May 27||Coastal Carolina||Jake Hurry||Winthrop||8.0||6||2||2||2||7||29||33||128|
|May 27||Winthrop||Mike Honce||Coastal Carolina||6.0||6||5||5||4||6||23||29||125|
|May 27||Long Beach State||Jered Weaver||Miami||6.1||8||7||7||4||11||24||29||127|
|May 27||Delaware||Jarame Beaupre||William and Mary||9.0||9||3||1||4||5||35||41||143|
|May 27||UNC Wilmington||Ronald Hill||Virginia Commonwealth||8.0||10||3||3||2||8||33||36||126|
|May 27||Memphis||Derek Hankins||Alabama-Birmingham||8.0||8||5||4||2||9||31||33||134|
|May 27||Vanderbilt||R. Mullins||Florida||8.0||7||0||0||0||12||30||32||125|
|May 27||Northwestern State||D. Lonsberry||Texas-Arlington||8.0||8||3||3||0||7||31||33||122|
|May 27||New Mexico State||Dustin Cameron||Arkansas State||9.0||7||3||3||3||5||33||38||130|
|May 28||Central Florida||Mike Billek||Troy State||7.1||11||7||6||3||6||32||35||125|
|May 28||Ohio State||Josh Newman||Michigan State||9.0||8||3||3||3||5||33||36||131|
|May 28||George Mason||Hitz||Virginia Commonwealth||9.0||8||3||1||4||5||35||39||146|
|May 28||Youngstown State||Eric Shaffer||Cleveland State||8.0||4||2||0||3||5||32||36||126|
|May 28||Cleveland State||Matt Kaltenbach||Youngstown State||9.0||10||7||4||0||8||36||38||127|
|May 28||Butler||Matt Byzet||Detroit Titans||10.0||9||3||2||2||7||37||42||146(*)|
|May 28||Southern Utah||Justin Abbott||Centenary||9.0||12||4||2||3||4||39||44||155(*)|
|May 28||Southern Utah||Ryan Zimmerman||Western Illinois||9.0||8||5||3||3||5||34||38||139(*)|
|May 28||Arizona||Koley Kolberg||Southern California||9.0||12||6||6||3||1||37||41||143(*)|
|May 28||College of Charleston||Ryan Edell||Davidson||8.1||11||0||0||2||7||36||38||148|
|May 28||College of Charleston||Matt Soale||Elon||7.0||5||3||2||2||6||27||30||121|
|May 28||Elon||Lance Cole||Georgia Southern||8.0||8||3||2||2||4||28||32||130|
|May 28||San Jose State||Matt Durkin||Hawaii||9.0||3||0||0||5||8||27||34||134(*)|
|May 29||Stony Brook||Matt Restivo||Maine||9.0||4||1||1||2||10||32||37||151(*)|
|May 29||Rhode Island||Zach Zuercher||George Washington||9.0||7||4||3||3||4||36||39||150(*)|
|May 29||Rhode Island||Stephen Holmes||Richmond||8.3333||8||3||3||4||11||34||39||159(*)|
|May 29||Oklahoma State||Scott Richmond||Texas||8.1||7||2||2||3||6||30||35||137|
|May 29||Youngstown State||C. Dennis||Illinois-Chicago||5.0||2||2||1||11||5||17||30||142(*)|
|May 29||Nevada-Las Vegas||Matt Luca||San Diego State||9.0||7||3||3||4||10||31||35||137(*)|
|May 29||Washington State||Aaron MacKenzie||California||7.2||9||4||4||2||10||32||34||127|
|May 29||The Citadel||Jonathan Ellis||Western Carolina||9.0||7||2||1||4||8||33||39||136|
|May 29||Loyola Marymount||Jeff Stevens||Pepperdine||7.0||12||8||6||1||2||34||35||132|
|May 29||Pepperdine||Jacob Barrack||Loyola Marymount||6.0||12||10||9||5||1||28||34||122|
|May 29||Louisiana Tech||Matt Lacy||Rice||10.0||10||5||5||2||6||39||41||146(*)|
|May 30||Arizona||John Meloan||Southern California||7.1||8||6||4||7||3||28||37||142|
(*) Pitch count is estimated.
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