Let's put on the tweed jacket with the patches on the elbows, get out the red pen and grade the NCAA selection committee on its baseball tournament field of 64.
Overall grade for the committee: C-plus
And the test scores that make up that grade ...
Spreading around of the Regional sites: B
Dispersing of the teams: C
Treatment of the mid-majors: C-minus
Treatment of the undeserving: B-plus
Choosing of the teams: C-minus
Leaning too much on the conference tournament results: D-minus
Common sense factor: C-minus
OK, I admit there is some good to this year's bracket, but there's also a healthy dose of bad. I will say, the committee's job is hard so there is always going to be a little more bad than good. That's just the nature of the beast. But let's dive in a bit more:
Three knee-jerk reactions from the announcement show:
1. Clemson in. North Carolina out? That's a gut punch to the Heels, who had an RPI of 24, according to NCAA.com.
2. The committee didn't cling too tightly to the RPI like in the past. Yes, that's a good thing.
3. No Georgia Tech, Alabama or North Carolina ... all had losing records in conference play.
Teams that did not get in that probably should have:
UC Irvine, 33-23, No. 50 RPI: Didn't the committee learn the last few years -- especially last season with their trip to Omaha -- that the Anteaters are always underrated by the RPI?
Southern Miss, 36-18-1, No. 52 RPI: Yes, we know the Eagles went 1-2 in the Conference USA tournament, but this was a team that finished the regular season with 13 straight wins. The committee usually rewards hot teams.
Nevada, 41-15, No. 54 RPI: This was a mid-major that got rude treatment. The Wolf Pack won the Mountain West regular season title and their geographic isolation makes it tough to play good teams midweek. Plus, they won 19 road games, which is more than anyone else in the top 98 of the RPI.
Michigan State, 34-23, No. 48 RPI: I'm not angry about this snub, but when you consider the Spartans went out to Oregon and swept three from the Ducks, who got in with a No. 66 RPI, that's a black eye.
Southeastern Louisiana, 42-17, No. 51 RPI: Like Nevada above, teams that win their conference regular season title should be given an edge. The Lions dominated the Southland with a 25-5 record. I thought that would be good enough.
The committee was willing to think outside the box: Putting a regional in Lake Elsinore, Calif., proves this, as UC Santa Barbara will host at a minor league park 167 miles from its home campus. Giving Missouri State a national seed was pretty gutsy, and it had a weaker RPI than conference foe Dallas Baptist (No. 3), but it shows the committee was willing to use their common sense since Missouri State beat DBU two out of three times and won the MVC tournament.
The Pac-12 was rewarded: The west coasters have had a history of being snubbed despite having some of the most talented rosters in the country. But this year the committee issued six bids to the Pac-12, which was a surprise. Few figured Oregon would get a bid and, the Ducks got one with an RPI of 66. But even Cal was viewed to be on shaky ground with an RPI of 41 (remember, Georgia Tech didn't get a bid at No. 37), and the Bears got a 3-seed in College Station, Texas.
The Big Ten's boost: It was a great season for the Big Ten, and the committee gave its teams props for. Illinois got a national seed despite an RPI of 9. Though arguments could be made for Ohio State (40), Nebraska (46) and Michigan State (48), at least Maryland was given a bid after finishing its run in the title game of the conference tournament. Iowa was given a 2-seed, and Indiana and Michigan were given 3-seeds. An argument could have been made for the Wolverines to get a No. 4.
The mid-majors -- rightfully -- got their due: This was a banner year for the mid-majors. Missouri State was given a national seed and six mid-majors were given home regionals. In addition to that, 10 were given No. 2 seeds and are ready to become bracket busters.
As mentioned above, conference records seemed to matter to the major conference teams: ESPN's college basketball bracketologist Joe Lunardi has long trumpeted the fact that a team should have a winning record in their conference to at least be considered for an at-large berth. And as you saw, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia Tech were left out despite decent RPIs. Also, Missouri went .500 in SEC play and was not extended a bid. So take that to heart, big conference teams -- you've got to prove yourself in your conference before bellyaching about not getting in. And yes, I realize Auburn got in despite a 13-17 SEC mark, but the Tigers also had a No. 62-ranked non-conference strength of schedule, and that No. 22 RPI was just too good for the committee to ignore.
Familiarity breeds contempt: Yes, we know the regionals are supposed to reflect some kind of geographical balance, but the potential super regional matchups are a tad too repetitive. Going by No. 1 seeds, we could get Florida State-Florida, Texas A&M-TCU, UCLA-UC Santa Barbara and Oklahoma State-Missouri State. Those are all matchups we've already seen this year. Plus, didn't LSU and Houston get matched up in the regionals in 2014? It was encouraging to see Dallas Baptist and Miami have a potential showdown, but we need more of these cross-sectional games in the second round of the tournament.
TCU was given a far too easy regional: No team benefited from the bracket announcement more than the Horned Frogs. While watching the selection show with Oklahoma State's team today, you could audibly hear a lot of groans and shouts of "Too easy" when the Fort Worth regional field was announced. And if travel has anything to do with it, there is some truth there. All three visiting participants will be coming from the Eastern time zone in Sacred Heart, Stony Brook and NC State.
Speaking of, the biggest "cakewalk" regionals went to: The Horned Frogs were joined by LSU, Miami and Louisville with the least interesting fields. Sometimes the big-time conferences have it too easy. These four teams should win their regionals in swift fashion.
The 3-seeds are too weak: Not that this is a big complaint, but when you have teams like Columbia, Stony Brook, Wright State and Oral Roberts as 3-seeds, that just means that Miami, TCU, Illinois and Oklahoma State got breaks in their regional field.
College of Charleston not hosting a regional: The Cougars had a good RPI (No. 18), won their conference by three full games, won 43 games and the Carolinas didn't have a regional. That should've been reason enough for College of Charleston to have been awarded a home slot for this weekend.
Conference championships should be rewarded: It wasn't a banner year for Jack Leggett's Clemson crew, and they probably shouldn't have been given this gift, especially considering their RPI was worse than conference champions like Nevada, Southeastern Louisiana and North Florida. Though we lauded the committee for rewarding the usually unrewarded Pac-12, putting the Ducks in was curious. The mid-major that wins its conference regular season crown should always be given preferential treatment over a big conference team with a questionable RPI.