California, Cal Poly left out of NCAA field
Here's some quick takes on the 2005 NCAA Division I baseball field of 64:
The Ratings Percentage Index played too large a factor.
The R.P.I. is a good tool with which to measure teams in the same conference and even teams within a similar geographic region, but it doesn't accurately measure teams from opposite parts of the country against one another. It significantly favors teams in the Southeast and works against those in the West and North. The over-reliance on RPI — rather than on-field results — leads to most of the points of contention below.
The West Coast didn't get enough credit.
California finished fifth in the Pac-10 and posted series wins against Long Beach State, Arizona, Stanford and Arizona State, but didn't make the field. The Golden Bears also finished a game ahead of Stanford in the conference standings. Cal Poly finished with the same conference and overall record as Big West brethren Long Beach State. It's true that the Mustangs didn't play nearly the same schedule as did the Dirtbags, but if the BWC can get two hosts sites and two No. 1 seeds, the third-place team from that league should be good enough to qualify for the tournament.
Arizona drew the bracket of death at Cal State Fullerton.
Arizona didn't want to take the financial bath of bidding to host a regional and not drawing many fans. But by taking that path, the Wildcats risked ending up in a loaded regional on the West Coast. That is exactly what happened. Not only did Arizona end up at the home of the defending champion Cal State Fullerton, but also face third-seeded Missouri and one of the nation's best pitchers in Max Scherzer in the opener. Had Arizona bid and served as a host, it very well would have the draw that Arizona State received, which clearly is more favorable. Of the eight College World Series participants in 2004, only Georgia has less of a chance to return to Omaha than Arizona. And the Bulldogs aren't in the field.
Coastal Carolina's resume is the weakest of the No. 1 seeds.
The Big South is a respectable league, and the Chanticleers went 48-14, 21-3 with road wins against Georgia Tech and North Carolina, but Coastal failed to win its conference tournament (losing to a game Winthrop club) and was 1-2 against Clemson, 1-1 against College of Charleston and 3-3 against Winthrop. That's not exactly the profile of a No. 1 seed.
Most mid-major regular season champions that didn't win their conference tournaments still were rewarded.
Creighton, Louisiana-Lafayette, Northwestern State and St. John's each deservedly ended up in the field of 64, while Illinois, UNC Wilmington and Troy won't continue their seasons. Wilmington deserves to gripe the loudest, as its season and RPI compared favorably to those of Creighton and St. John's.
Florida State received the easiest draw of any No. 1 seed.
The Tallahassee and Tempe regionals are close, but Florida State made out the best. Second-seeded Auburn finished tied for eighth in the Southeastern Conference, and the Seminoles took two of three from the Tigers in February.
The best two pitchers in college baseball could meet in the Knoxville regional.
Tennessee will be able to hold out Luke Hochevar against Austin Peay State, and Wichita State could gamble against Winthrop and save Mike Pelfrey for a potential winner's bracket matchup against the Volunteers.
Rice could ruin the potential Tulane-LSU super regional.
Last year, Rice earned a national seed and was set to play host to LSU in a super regional before it got upset. That left LSU to serve as a host, and it went to Omaha. This year, Rice possesses the pitching to pull an upset of its own.
Cal State Fullerton will repeat as College World Series champions.
The Titans struggled down the stretch and will have to claw their way out of a tough home regional. However, if Fullerton advances to the super regionals, it will meet the winner of the Tempe Regional, which is one of the weakest in the field. After that point, the team's depth of talent in position players and pitchers, as well as its experience and mentality from last year, points toward a repeat.
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