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Notes on the Supers

Publication Date: May 29, 2001

Randomness uber Alles

How about those South teams? There are three schools in Division I baseball with two word names (leaving off the "University of" or whatever part, of course) where the first word is "South". All three were in the tournament, and they went an impressive 6-5 in the regionals, including one regional win. "Middle"'s clearly stink, though.

OK, that's ridiculous. There's no connection between the "South"'s (and there's only one "Middle", of course), other than all being Southeastern teams, and there's no reason to consider their performance as a group to be significant in any way. But there's probably just as much significance to that as there is to any of the other patterns that people obsess over after the regionals every year.

The regionals have taken up roughly 3% of the season so far for the teams that participated. The whole point of sports is that there is a random component involved -- if there weren't, baseball would just be ballet with cooler clothes -- and randomness, by definition, usually gets noticed in spurts. Some times, the dips will hit members of the same conference, or the same region, or the same hair color at the same time.

Usually, those who make this mistake are the casual or parochial fans who only pay attention to the national game during the postseason. They conclude that since teams from the Big Ten and Big West both underperformed according to their seeding this last weekend, neither conference deserved more bids, and might deserve less. This is just as silly as deciding that we should get them to change the name from Middle Tennessee State to South Tennessee State, since that seems to help.

New Probabilities

Here are the adjusted probabilities for the remaining teams to win the super-regional and CWS after last weekend (see last week's column for more detail on what these mean):

Cal State Fullerton   86/19
Mississippi State     14/ 0
Nebraska              45/ 3
Rice                  55/ 5
Stanford              76/19
South Carolina        24/ 2
Tulane                58/ 4
Louisiana State       42/ 2
Miami, Florida        73/ 6
Clemson               27/ 1
East Carolina         48/ 3
Tennessee             52/ 3
Southern California   92/27
Florida International  8/ 0
Georgia               50/ 3
Florida State         50/ 3

These still don't take home field advantage into account, so feel free to bump the home teams for this weekend up a couple of percent if you like.

The most significant result from this is that we have a roughly 65% chance at this point that the national champion is one of the California teams. That's far from a certainty, of course (see the randomness comments above), but the teams that survived their meat-grinder regionals have a good chance from here.

Regional Attendance Numbers

I haven't seen anything official from the NCAA on this, but I culled box scores when possible and called the schools when it wasn't and came up with the following attendance numbers for the past weekend:

Host School          Attendance    Games    Host Games

Cal State Fullerton    11961         7          4
Clemson                16250         6          3
East Carolina          17223         6          3
Florida State          16344         6          3
Georgia                17440         7          5
Louisiana State        30699         7          4
Miami                  12441         6          3
Nebraska               18026         6          3
Notre Dame             11074         7          5
Rice                   24310         7          5
Ohio State              6592*        6          2
South Carolina         30123         7          5
Southern California     7643         6          3
Stanford               16814         7          5
Tennessee              10960+        7          4
Tulane                 19217         6          3

(*) I had to estimate one game for the Columbus regional, but I was more than generous; actual attendance was probably closer to 6000.

(+) Tennessee apparently only counted the Sunday crowd once; the attendance for the first game Sunday was 2156, so a fair number is probably around 13000.

None of this really matters if the trend toward awarding regionals based on on-field performance, one I heartily approve of, continues, but I suspect that trend will only continue as long as the tournament makes money, so these numbers matter in that sense; the low attendance at last year's Rutgers regional and this year's Ohio State regional may cause problems for next year's committee.

I'm not entirely sure on most of these whether this is actual attendance or paid attendance -- LSU reported both numbers, and this is the actual attendance (paid was over 50,000), but none of the others explicitly state which it is. Looking at the individual game numbers, I suspect that Tulane's is paid (I don't know that the Saturday evening Ole Miss-Oklahoma State game actually filled the stadium) and everyone else is actual, but I'd love confirmation of that.

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