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The 2005 Tournament Field
Publication Date: May 31, 2005
What's so civil about war, anyway? -- GnR
I hate to be an alarmist (OK, I don't really, but I don't relish the role either), but I'm afraid we're heading for a fall. The game is growing nicely -- not too fast, so it gets out of control, but at a good, strong rate. Lots of people, of course, are going to want pieces of that larger pie, and the ones who contribute to it are entitled to a fair slice. We've already got the Northern teams threatening to secede over scheduling, and they got essentially none of their demands over the last year as the proposal for moving the season was summarily dismissed by one of those shadowy NCAA committee we all love so much. That's a beginning, but after seeing the particularly egregious mistreatment of the West in this year's field, I think we're headed down a road where the West Coast breaks away and starts their own party as well. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that and some of the needed reforms are made -- replacing the RPI, getting more Western representation on the committee, and creating a more transparent selection process would be a good start -- but right now we're headed for trouble, and it won't be long coming. On to the specifics of this year's mess.
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 Tulane 50- 9 1 3 74/52/11 Alabama 38-21 30 33 16/ 7/ 0 Louisiana-Lafayette 47-17 41 45 11/ 4/ 0 Southern 29-16 144 167 0/ 0/ 0
Tulane's in the group of four that could be the best in the country, so they're OK here as the national #1. The other three seeds are also defensible, and Alabama's even one of the lower #2 seeds. The rematch with LSU is both dramatic and fair. Hey, this is OK! The fact that all the teams involved are from the Southeast probably helped. There's a theory I have that a lot of this stuff is purely a matter of familiarity by the committee -- they just plain don't know how good Cal Poly is, for example, one way or the other.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Louisiana State 38-20 15 18 41/16/ 1 Rice 41-17 25 12 39/16/ 1 Northwestern State 40-18 38 40 19/ 6/ 0 Marist 33-19 128 156 1/ 0/ 0
The beauty of this last week is that the past isn't dead, it isn't really even past. In 2001, a wonderful freshman pitcher named Lane Mestepey was run out for some absolutely horrific pitch counts, culminating in starting the first and third games of the LSU-Tulane superregional series. He survived enough to pitch the 2002 season but had to have the death sentence for a pitcher after that, undergoing shoulder surgery (return rates for shoulder surgery are much, much lower than for elbow surgery). Last Wednesday, the remaining tatters of Lane Mestepey's arm didn't make it out of the first inning against Mississippi State, sending LSU into an elimination game against Tennessee's All-World ace Luke Hochevar. LSU bounced out on that one, dropping them away from a national #1 seed and dooming them to go back to Tulane if they survive this weekend, where they'll be a heavy underdog.
Rice deserved better than this but were hit by the RPI; they're essentially co-favorites here.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Oregon State 41- 9 13 1 86/58/20 Virginia 41-18 24 51 9/ 2/ 0 St. John's 39-16 55 100 1/ 0/ 0 Ohio State 39-18 64 69 4/ 1/ 0
OSU was treated much better than I expected here, albeit somewhat unintentionally. They were given a deserved national #1 seed, allowed to host, and given laughably easy #2 and #3 seeds (St. John's appears to be the first snow bid in a couple of years). The fly in the ointment is below.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Long Beach State 36-20 17 7 41/16/ 3 Southern California 37-19 16 5 35/15/ 3 Pepperdine 38-21 34 10 24/ 9/ 1 Rhode Island 34-19 90 136 0/ 0/ 0
The good news is that Beach got to host (although that's probably so they had a place to park all the California teams they couldn't squeeze into Fullerton). The bad news -- well, look at that ISR column. From a spectator point of view, I suppose it's nice that you have three of the top ten teams in the country meeting somewhere besides Omaha, but it's not exactly good from a fairness point of view. The fifth-best team in the country has a roughly 15% chance of getting to Omaha, and almost no chance of winning it all. This just cements my recent contention that Pepperdine has been the most mistreated team in the country in recent years. Add to this the fact that the winner of this bloodbath gets to go to Corvallis to face what should be a well-rested Oregon State team, and it just gets worse.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Baylor 39-21 5 9 46/28/ 3 Texas Christian 40-18 28 28 22/11/ 0 Stanford 32-23 39 16 30/16/ 1 Texas-San Antonio 27-32 132 108 2/ 0/ 0
Baylor's OK -- they're on the edge between the national and non-national #1's, so there's no real complaint there. TCU is a good solid #2 whose RPI matches their ISR, so things are looking good. At #3 -- whoa, the wheels just left the track. OK, they're not quite as good as usual, so you're going to stick them (and Baylor, and TCU, and Clemson) with a #3 seed?
W-L RPI ISR Probs Clemson 39-21 6 20 52/25/ 1 College of Charleston 47-13 10 21 38/18/ 1 Oral Roberts 40-18 69 71 9/ 2/ 0 North Carolina A&T 27-25 228 214 0/ 0/ 0
When the revolution comes, it'll be misaimed. That's unfortunate. The SEC gets everyone's attention because of the huge number of bids. If you'll look at the ISR's, though, the conference isn't particularly being overrewarded -- some of the seeds come out too high because of the RPI some years, but teams like this year's Vandy squad get unfairly left out, so it's about even. The ACC, on the other hand -- they're first against the wall, with the Southern mid-major conferences in line behind them.
The College of Charleston seeding provides an interesting case study. It's fair, in a real quality sense, but there's absolutely no reason from the traditional standards used that they wouldn't have been swapped with Coastal Carolina other than that the committee didn't start paying attention to them until last week.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Mississippi 44-18 4 6 64/33/ 5 Southern Mississippi 41-19 33 37 20/ 7/ 0 Oklahoma 33-24 40 44 15/ 4/ 0 Maine 34-17 98 155 1/ 0/ 0
This one's good; nothing to see here. Once again, the problem is below.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Texas 45-14 3 4 71/44/ 8 Arkansas 37-20 22 26 22/10/ 1 Miami, Ohio 44-16 43 58 7/ 2/ 0 Quinnipiac 26-22 166 205 0/ 0/ 0
In attacking the list of reasons why they make mistakes, can we just try to hide the conference standings from the committee? Every team has lapses; it's the nature of the sport. Because Texas had their two lapses on conference weekends, Ole Miss gets a much less fair shot at Omaha than they earned.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Georgia Tech 42-16 2 14 52/32/ 3 South Carolina 38-21 32 38 27/14/ 1 Michigan 41-17 46 52 17/ 7/ 0 Furman 30-27 102 109 4/ 1/ 0
See Clemson, and note that the cumulative probabilities mean that we probably get more of those Baseball America stories about how the ACC keeps choking in the postseason when they're just playing to their ability level. It's not that they're choking; it's that they shouldn't be #1 seeds (or national seeds instead of non-national) in the first place.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Tennessee 41-19 29 36 36/17/ 1 Winthrop 43-20 20 39 28/13/ 0 Wichita State 49-22 36 35 32/15/ 1 Austin Peay State 38-22 142 114 4/ 1/ 0
Wow, what a stinky field. This is the one of the two cases where the SEC gets overseeded, although this one's not due to the RPI; it's the conference standing fetish.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Florida 40-20 9 19 47/28/ 2 North Carolina 40-17 8 30 39/21/ 1 Notre Dame 36-22 60 101 6/ 1/ 0 Stetson 35-26 57 89 8/ 2/ 0
Here's the other; this one is RPI-based. The odd thing is that they don't do the same for UNC; I suppose that's conference standing-based. If anyone can explain why Notre Dame and Stetson are in the order they're in, let me know.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Florida State 50-18 23 24 52/28/ 2 Auburn 32-24 19 43 31/14/ 0 South Alabama 35-25 51 74 13/ 4/ 0 Army 38-12 95 127 4/ 1/ 0
Oops, there's a third -- Auburn should properly be a #3. So here, you've got a #2, a #3, and two #4's. On the other hand, you can't actually fly into Tallahassee without going around the world, so it wasn't all that tempting anyway.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Nebraska 51-13 18 8 54/35/ 5 North Carolina State 40-17 12 31 23/12/ 1 Creighton 46-15 48 34 11/ 5/ 0 Illinois-Chicago 38-19 149 116 0/ 0/ 0
They seem to have gotten this one right in spite of the RPI's; this one's actually fair all the way up and down the line. Nebraska would have brought this problem on themselves if they hadn't, since they scheduled all of Hilo and both Dakota States, which cost them quite a bit RPI-wise.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Miami, Florida 38-17 7 27 44/20/ 1 Mississippi State 40-20 21 29 37/17/ 1 Florida Atlantic 36-22 37 57 16/ 5/ 0 Virginia Commonwealth 33-20 99 132 3/ 0/ 0
This will be an interesting study in momentum. Miami and MSU should be almost perfectly matched according to the ISR's. On the other hand, the Canes have lost five straight and looked absolutely awful doing so, while MSU blew through Birmingham, giving up seven runs in four games.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Cal State Fullerton 41-15 11 2 66/50/16 Arizona 37-19 35 11 22/13/ 2 Missouri 39-21 49 42 8/ 3/ 0 Harvard 29-15 96 152 0/ 0/ 0
Arizona is apparently being punished for withdrawing their hosting bid due to concerns over attendance. How that's any of the committee's business is beyond me. Their season, which has been quite strong although their schedule was surprisingly weak for a West Coast team, will go largely unnoticed unless they pull off the upset.
W-L RPI ISR Probs Coastal Carolina 48-14 14 25 35/11/ 1 Arizona State 34-22 27 15 43/17/ 2 East Carolina 35-24 44 54 14/ 3/ 0 Nevada-Las Vegas 34-27 109 82 8/ 1/ 0
"If we overseed these guys because of their RPI and underseed these guys because of theirs but send the first guys to the second guys' home, will anybody notice?" ECU's a little better than UNLV, but that's the only reason the mistakes here really matter.
W-L RPI ISR Cal Poly 36-20 13 San Francisco 38-18 17 California 34-23 22 Washington 31-22 23 UC Irvine 31-25 32 Vanderbilt 34-21 41
As far as I can tell, Cal Poly and San Francisco are the two best teams to be left out of the tournament since the field expansion in 1999. They're better than seven of the sixteen #1 seeds. This is wrong, pure and simple, as is the omission of the other three Western teams here, and it has to change, before we're tracking three different national tournaments.
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 25||Dayton||Craig Stammen||Duquesne||9.0||10||5||5||2||7||36||39||146(*)|
|May 25||Richmond||Rob Berzinskas||Fordham||7.0||3||0||0||5||7||24||29||123|
|May 25||Fordham||Thomas Davis||Richmond||9.0||3||0||0||4||5||27||32||129|
|May 25||Wake Forest||Brian Bach||Georgia Tech||8.0||12||9||7||4||2||37||42||140|
|May 25||Gardner-Webb||Josh Martin||Troy||9.0||7||2||2||3||2||34||37||134|
|May 25||Troy||Brent Adcock||Gardner-Webb||9.0||12||8||6||5||7||35||43||136|
|May 25||Stetson||Chris Ingoglia||Central Florida||7.0||7||4||3||4||4||26||32||126|
|May 25||Michigan||Jim Brauer||Ohio State||10.0||5||2||0||2||6||32||37||124|
|May 25||Texas Tech||Billy Carnline||Nebraska||7.1||8||2||2||4||8||28||34||146|
|May 25||Coastal Carolina||Mike Valter||Radford||8.0||10||1||1||0||4||33||35||121|
|May 25||Virginia Commonwealth||Harold Mozingo||Towson||8.1||8||5||5||1||14||33||35||148(*)|
|May 25||East Carolina||T. J. Hose||Houston||8.0||9||5||4||1||5||31||33||129|
|May 25||Texas Christian||Sam Demel||Louisville||9.0||3||2||2||3||9||29||33||147|
|May 25||Wright State||Chris Snyder||Cleveland State||9.0||9||2||2||2||5||32||36||129|
|May 25||Indiana State||Ryan Tatusko||Wichita State||7.2||7||4||4||5||8||29||35||144(*)|
|May 25||Arkansas||Nick Schmidt||Florida||7.0||7||2||2||4||7||27||31||130|
|May 25||Southeastern Louisiana||Bernard Robert||Northwestern State||10.0||6||0||0||4||5||34||40||149|
|May 25||Western Kentucky||Grady Hinchman||Louisiana-Lafayette||8.2||7||7||6||4||4||33||39||144(*)|
|May 26||Troy||Landon Brazell||Georgia State||9.0||3||0||0||2||6||30||32||125|
|May 26||Central Florida||Tim Bascom||Gardner-Webb||9.0||7||0||0||3||6||33||36||130|
|May 26||Gardner-Webb||Zach Ward||Central Florida||8.2||9||3||3||4||6||32||36||145|
|May 26||Texas||Randy Boone||Kansas||9.0||3||0||0||4||7||29||34||135|
|May 26||Missouri||Max Scherzer||Texas Tech||6.2||3||1||1||3||8||23||27||126|
|May 26||Towson||Casper Wells||North Carolina-Wilmington||9.0||6||1||1||4||6||33||38||127|
|May 26||Virginia Commonwealth||Leonard||George Mason||9.0||6||3||3||3||7||33||36||147|
|May 26||Manhattan||Steve Bronder||Siena||7.1||11||5||5||6||4||33||40||155(*)|
|May 26||Akron||Tom Farmer||Bowling Green State||8.1||4||0||0||4||6||26||31||130|
|May 26||Bradley||Brandon Magee||Indiana State||8.1||7||4||4||1||5||30||31||126|
|May 26||Southern Illinois||P. J. Finigan||Wichita State||4.0||7||7||4||3||6||19||24||121|
|May 26||Utah||Jason Price||Nevada-Las Vegas||7.0||11||5||3||1||5||30||33||122|
|May 26||New Mexico||Danny Ray Herrera||San Diego State||7.1||14||7||6||3||5||35||38||146(*)|
|May 26||Austin Peay State||Rowdy Hardy||Murray State||9.0||8||5||5||1||6||33||36||124|
|May 26||Mississippi State||Todd Doolittle||South Carolina||8.2||5||2||1||2||13||31||34||144(*)|
|May 26||College of Charleston||Ryan Edell||North Carolina-Greensboro||8.0||7||2||2||1||6||31||32||125|
|May 26||North Carolina-Greensboro||Chris Mason||College of Charleston||8.0||10||6||6||1||7||32||34||125|
|May 26||Georgia Southern||Dustin Evans||Western Carolina||9.0||9||2||2||3||9||35||38||131|
|May 26||Texas State||Chris Jean||Southeastern Louisiana||9.2||8||4||3||0||13||37||38||148(*)|
|May 26||Lamar||Derrick Gordon||Texas-San Antonio||6.0||6||3||3||2||7||22||26||122|
|May 26||Texas-San Antonio||Steven Vasquez||Lamar||8.0||13||3||2||2||4||35||39||128|
|May 27||Cal Poly||Garrett Olson||UC Irvine||7.2||11||3||3||2||5||30||34||130|
|May 27||UC Irvine||Chris Nicoll||Cal Poly||8.0||11||5||4||2||6||31||35||121|
|May 27||UC Riverside||Haley Winter||Cal State Fullerton||7.0||14||8||8||1||8||33||38||130|
|May 27||George Washington||Dan Sullivan||Richmond||6.0||8||4||4||4||7||25||30||121|
|May 27||Clemson||Robert Rohrbaugh||North Carolina State||8.2||4||4||1||3||10||31||34||137|
|May 27||Florida State||Michael Hyde||Wake Forest||7.2||9||3||0||1||6||34||36||128|
|May 27||Northeastern||Dave Pellegrine||Maine||7.0||12||7||7||5||5||30||36||139(*)|
|May 27||Ohio State||Trent Luyster||Minnesota||9.0||14||6||4||1||2||40||43||147(*)|
|May 27||Texas Tech||Tanner McElroy||Nebraska||9.0||7||2||2||2||5||31||35||126|
|May 27||George Mason||Morrison||Virginia Commonwealth||7.0||5||3||3||3||10||25||29||122|
|May 27||Lamar||Scott Vander Weg||Texas-Arlington||9.0||7||3||3||4||4||32||37||145|
|May 27||Loyola Marymount||J. Stevens||Pepperdine||8.0||12||3||3||3||5||35||38||148(*)|
|May 28||UC Riverside||Taylor Bills||Cal State Fullerton||8.0||9||6||6||3||6||30||38||133|
|May 28||Virginia Commonwealth||Brett Walker||Towson||8.0||7||4||4||2||6||31||33||122|
|May 28||Wisconsin-Milwaukee||R. Michalkiewicz||Illinois-Chicago||8.1||8||4||2||5||1||32||38||139(*)|
|May 28||Loyola Marymount||Stephen Kahn||Pepperdine||6.2||7||7||7||4||2||25||31||129|
|May 28||Pepperdine||Kea Kometani||Loyola Marymount||7.0||4||3||3||2||7||25||29||127|
(*) Pitch count is estimated.
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