12 Conference Wins Isn’t Enough For UH
The Houston Cougars, 42nd in the RPI, will miss the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Just a year ago, Houston made it into a regional at #45 in the RPI. The difference? 19 conference wins a year ago vs. 12 this season.
The Coogs were listed as the first team left out of the tournament:
Last year, Kentucky was the #65 team: the Wildcats were 30th in the RPI but finished with a 13-18 conference record. UCF was the second team left out in 2017, with a 13-12 league record.
After the UCF series, GoCoogs presented a case for how the NCAA has moved away from the RPI-heavy focus and onto rewarding conference and Q1 wins:
1. Conference Record (with some weight given to conference RPI)
3. Q1 record
4. Road record
6. Top 100 record
The 2019 field proves this theory for the most part but there is one anomaly. Florida (27 RPI) got into the tourney with a 13-18 record in the SEC but with 14 Q1 wins. It seems the RPI and Q1 wins overcame Florida’s league record. Clearly, some weight was given to the SEC’s #1 conference RPI.
The emphasis on conference wins is the NCAA’s way of responding to criticism of the 2017 field. That season, the first four out included two teams with 16 conference wins (UCF and South Carolina), Miami with 18, and ODU with 20.
The last 4 in this year – Duke, Florida State, Michigan, TCU – had RPIs ranging from 39 to 59. But those four teams finished with 16, 18, 19, and 14 league wins, respectively. The last two teams in the field – Michigan and TCU – played their way in with 5 combined Q1 wins in their conference tournaments. UH played itself out by losing two Q1 games in the AAC Tournament.
Three of those “last four” teams in had more Q1 wins than the Cougars – only Michigan did not. But the Maize and Blue had the 19 conference wins and an RPI better than Houston’s.
Takeaway: The RPI is no longer the primary focus of the selection committee. The American played the RPI game beautifully for several years but, with the shift in emphasis to conference and Q1 wins, the league must reconfigure their approach.
Some Regional Thoughts
We’re big college baseball fans at GoCoogs and, even though the Cougars aren’t in it, we have some thoughts on the NCAA field. The NCAA made some interesting decisions regarding this field but it’s not the first four/last four that most people are griping about.
Leagues Square Off: Five of the super regional matchups are conference vs. conference with regards to #1 seeds. The field is set up so that at least one Pac-12, 1 Big 12, 1 ACC, and two SEC teams go to Omaha. Of course, it won’t play out like that.
Just one year after the NCAA began seeding 1-16 and announced that geography would no longer be considered in the seeding, that idea has clearly been thrown out the window.
Makes No Sense: How is Georgia Tech (8 RPI, 41-17 overall, 19-11 in the 3rd best league, 19-11 Q1, 11 SOS) seeded #3 ahead of #4 Georgia (3 RPI, 44-15 overall, 21-9 in #1 conference, 21-11 Q1, 10 SOS)? UGA beats them in every metric the NCAA considers important.
If the desire was to match conferences in Super Regionals they could have flipped UNC and LSU on the other side of the bracket and made more sense.
Culture Clash: In a potential Super matchup, #1 Stanford or #2 UCSB would be heading to Mississippi State. Going from Palo Alto or Santa Barbara to Starkville will be quite the culture shock. And none of those guys have ever played in a stadium as rowdy as the new Dudy-Noble will be for a Super.
What’s most curious about MSU’s draw is that the Bulldogs are a top-eight team (#6) and get RPI #17 Miami as their two-seed. Logically, the #17 should go to the #16 (or worst case, #15). In comparison, the team behind Miami, #18 RPI NCSU, goes to the 10-seed ECU.
Culture Clash Dos: I also like the juxtaposition of Duke and a team from the Bronx (Fordham) heading to Morgantown to face the wild WVU fans and the goofy A&M people.
Power Punch: Cincinnati had just 12 home runs in 24 regular-season AAC games. Then the Bearcats went to the conference tournament and hit 7 homers in their last 3 games. Oregon State can’t love them as a 4-seed but Cinci didn’t see pitching in Clearwater like the Beavers have.
Laughing: Putting Stony Brook in Baton Rouge as the four-seed is a little funny. Backstory: the Seawolves won the Miami Regional in 2012 by beating #1 Miami, Missouri State, and then two wins over #2 UCF in the finals. They advanced to Baton Rouge for the Super and beat LSU in games 2 and 3 to go to Omaha.
LSU won the SEC that year and was a national seed while Stony Brook was a four-seed.
Not Laughing: Also in Baton Rouge, USM is the 3-seed. I wouldn’t want Southern Miss anywhere near my regional. In the C-USA Tournament, USM no-hit Rice then shutout regular-season champ FAU to win the auto bid.
Kinda funny: 14 days before Southern Miss no-hit Rice, the Owls 3-hit USM.
Tech’s Teams: DBU and Florida is a 2-3 matchup (Lubbock) that could be pretty interesting. Florida is awful away from home, though. Army is the 4 in that regional – they played a single Q1 game besides the three they played here.
RPI Doesn’t Matter: Illinois State (RPI 26) is the 3-seed in Louisville while Indiana (RPI 36) is the two-seed.
The only time I can recall a bigger gulf between the 3-seed RPI and the two-seed was last season. A&M was 15 in the RPI but, with a losing conference record, was made a three-seed in the UT regional with Indiana (RPI 29) as the two-seed.
More RPI Games: McNeese is the three-seed in Nashville but really should be a four-seed. Vandy gets two four-seeds in their regional (Ohio State is the actual four-seed).
McNeese is 82 in the RPI which isn’t close to three-seed range. They are on the same seed-line as Illinois State (26 RPI). That doesn’t make sense.
But watch out for the Cowboys: McNeese can throw a little. They shutout UH and LSU on back-to-back Tuesdays.
Poooooor Aggies: This season, Tennessee is 14 in the RPI, 14-17 in the SEC, 15-17 in Q1, and they’re a two-seed at UNC (#14 national seed).
Last year, A&M was 15 in the RPI, 16-18 in the SEC, and 14-16 vs Q1. They were made a three-seed and sent to Austin (#13 national seed).
Pooooooooooooor Aggies: Of their last 17 losses (and a tie), A&M has scored 3 or less 16 times. Sound familiar?
But it’s even worse: A&M gave up 5 hits combined in their last 2 games in the SEC Tournament and lost both.
That’s a shame. But it could be worse. They could be
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