Selection Monday is one of the biggest days on the college baseball calendar, but the biggest prize that the NCAA selection committee hands out actually is awarded the day before. A day before the NCAA reveals the Regionals, Super Regional match-ups and map to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, they announce the 16 teams that will host Regionals. That huge advantage is handed out to the teams that prove themselves worthy over the course of a long, grueling regular season. Well, not quite all of it because the Regional hosts are inexplicably announced at 3:30 pm ET, before all of the day’s games are finished.
That’s right, the reward for a season’s worth of games is decided before all the games are played. It makes sense to announce the Regional hosts on Sunday as opposed to Monday. Those that will host need to begin preparations at the stadium before the Regionals begin on Friday, but why at 3:30 pm ET? Couldn’t the NCAA wait until 8 pm ET or so to announce the hosts? You know, after all the games are played.
How much would the Regional hosts really miss out on by not learning whether or not they will host until the evening as opposed to the middle of the day? How much work is going to get done on a Sunday afternoon with Memorial Day the following day? Not very much. The preparations really begin to fall into place on Monday, with the work going in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Announcing the Regional hosts a few hours later isn’t going to affect the preparations.
What announcing the Regional hosts in the afternoon does affect is fairness and making sure the committee can get the right teams hosting Regionals. Normally it doesn’t matter. In a 56-game season it is rare that any single game is going to make a big difference in who should host, but this season it might.
Take a look out West, where for geographic reasons the NCAA needs at least three hosts. Arizona St. and Cal St. Fullerton have host spots locked up, but where will the final two hosts come from? It appears as if there are three candidates.
- Oregon St.is 38-16 after dropping the opening two games of their series this weekend to a struggling Oregon team. Their RPI is down to 26 now, are just 5-5 in their last 10 and have fallen out of the top spot in the Pac-10.
- Fresno St. is 39-14 with a RPI of 19, but has a strength of schedule ranked 83rd in the country and has played just two games against RPI top 50 teams. They couldn’t even win the weak WAC outright, instead sharing the regular season title with Hawaii, who will not make the tournament.
- UCLA is 33-21 with a RPI of just 32, but they are 18-8 and in first place in the Pac-10. A win tomorrow or loss by Oregon St. will clinch the conference title outright for the Bruins.
As asinine as the RPI may be, the NCAA relies heavily upon it. Well, when they announce Regional hosts tomorrow, Oregon St. will have the RPI edge on UCLA, but if UCLA wins tomorrow and Oregon St. loses, the Bruins could jump the Beavers in the RPI. If Oregon St. wins, they might be able to jump Fresno St. in the RPI. If UCLA wins or Oregon St. loses, the Bruins are Pac-10 champions, but if UCLA loses and Oregon St. wins, they are the conference title. The NCAA won’t be able to take any of this into account though.
When the NCAA announces their Regional hosts tomorrow at 3:30 pm ET, UCLA will just be getting ready to start their game against Arizona St. in Tempe, while Oregon St. will still be 30 minutes away from starting their final regular season game of the season against Oregon.
RPI, records against RPI top 5 teams, series sweeps against top teams or embarrassing sweeps at the hands of poor teams and conference titles. All of them are important and relevant pieces of information to take into account when deciding who should and should not host a Regional.
The NCAA won’t be able to take any of those key pieces of information into account though because for reasons that only they know, they announce the hosts before the regular season comes to a close. Hey, NCAA, how about trying announcing the hosts at 8 pm ET next year? Maybe when we’re done with that we can have a little chat about that RPI.