And as usual this time of year, there’s no outcry whatsoever for an NIT featuring another 32 teams.
A couple of thoughts on how the tournament might shape up :
1) UT-Arlington at Texas (Friday, 4pm, ESPNU) looks like a mismatch, but the Longhorns struggled in a few non-conference games this year against schools within driving distance.
2) Oklahoma State shouldn’t take Princeton too lightly — look out for that back door play!
3) Congrats to the Jaspers of Manhattan on qualifying for The Competition That Dares Not Call Itself The Big Dance for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Baseball America’s John Manuel examines the circumstances surrounding LSU’s lack of an invite, the first time the Tigers (35-24) have been excluded in 18 years.
Mississippi State got into the 64-team field over the Tigers. The Bulldogs–whose athletic director, Larry Templeton, is the head of the Division I baseball committee–finished a half-game behind the Tigers in the Southeastern Conference, did not qualify for the SEC tournament and won only one of their last eight weekend series after beginning the season 21-1. Mississippi State won the head-to-head series played in late March, winning two of three at LSU.
(unidentified Bulldogs players celebrate the New England Journal Of Medicine’s findings that there’s no correlation between excessive hot wing consumption and early impotence)
Committee member Mike Hamrick, the athletic director at Nevada-Las Vegas, handled questions about the Bulldogs-Tigers controversy after the field was announced because Templeton was not in the room when his school was discussed. Hamrick said it didn’t necessarily come down to the two SEC schools for one spot, saying instead they were part of 17 teams bidding for the last seven spots, and then later 12 teams for five spots. He cited the usual factors, such as Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), strength of schedule, wins against top 100 teams and how teams fared in their final 10 games.
“Mississippi State went 23-3 against teams outside the SEC,” Hamrick said. “It did take two of three (head to head with LSU) . . . Sometimes, the teams are so equally grouped, you have to look at the head to head.”