Alabama had strong case to host supers
You just knew we couldn’t get to the College World Series without at least some sort of controversy.
We noted last week that the NCAA Selection Committee did a fantastic job of putting together and seeding the NCAA postseason field. But the committee raised a few eyebrows on Monday when Clemson was given a super regional host over Alabama.
Some may subscribe to the idea that, hey, you’re in the postseason, who cares where you have to play? But playing at home or on the road can be the difference between making and not making a trip to Omaha.
That’s why there’s some controversy.
But what matters more to the committee, rewarding the team that clearly had the better regular-season resume or the team that has the more impressive postseason run?
The topic is up for debate, but put us in the camp of those who believe the team with the more impressive postseason run should host.
That team is Alabama.
There are some good arguments in both Clemson and Alabama’s favor, though.
The Tigers finished the regular season with a much better conference record in a comparable league and also have compiled an impressive 21-14 record against RPI top-50 teams. The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, barely made the SEC tournament, finished conference play with a 15-15 record and have just a 19-19 record against RPI top-50 teams.
Throw those numbers into the ring, and it’s easy to see why the Tigers are sexier to some and are playing host to the Crimson Tide.
Clemson put together a strong showing at the Auburn Regional the past few days, using several solid offensive performances to advance to the super regional round. It defeated Auburn for the regional title. AU, though, was not a national seed.
Alabama, meanwhile, hit the road to compete in the Atlanta Regional, which featured No. 8 national seed Georgia Tech as the host. The Crimson Tide beat the Yellow Jackets twice to win the regional and have been one of the nation’s hottest teams the past couple of weeks.
Beating a national seed on its home field apparently doesn’t matter. It should.
The matter at hand between Clemson and Alabama, as it should be, will be settled on the field later this week.
It still doesn’t diminish the fact the wrong team is hosting.
In another decision that made us do a double take, the NCAA is making the winner of the Coral Gables Regional start a three-game series against Florida on Friday. There’s a little issue with that, though. The Coral Gables Regional was suspended Monday due to rain, and Miami and Texas A&M are finishing the contest on Tuesday.
That means either the Hurricanes or Aggies only receive two days rest before facing the Gators. The Gators, though, will have four days rest after making easy work of Florida Atlantic in the Gainesville Regional title game Sunday.
Puzzling decisions, indeed.
Setting the stage
Arkansas vs. Arizona State: The Razorbacks advanced to the super regional round with an impressive win against Washington State in the Fayetteville Regional title game. The Sun Devils, meanwhile, had absolutely no trouble with their regional field. The Devils have the edge in this series, and it will be interesting to see if highly drafted Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox returns to the lineup against the Devils. Cox left Monday’s game grimacing with pain.
Alabama vs. Clemson: Both the Tigers and Crimson Tide played inconsistent brands of baseball this season. However, both clubs played exceptional brands of baseball in the Auburn and Atlanta Regionals, respectively, the past few days. Clemson is hosting the regional, and a home field advantage could be the difference. However, the Crimson Tide match up better in a three-game series than a regional with starting pitchers Jimmy Nelson, Nathan Kilcrease and Adam Morgan leading the way. It should be a very interesting series to follow.
TCU vs. Texas: Perhaps the second time will be a charm for the Horned Frogs. The Frogs dropped a three-game super regional series to the Longhorns last season. Now the two teams will meet back up this weekend. TCU made easy work of the Fort Worth Regional this past weekend, while Texas did the same with the Austin Regional. TCU presents a tough matchup for the Longhorns. Both teams will have an excellent crop of pitchers taking the mound this weekend.
Vanderbilt vs. Florida State: The Commodores have been waiting for this moment since the 2007 debacle against Michigan. The ‘Dores played clutch baseball throughout the weekend at the Louisville Regional. They took care of the host Cardinals to advance to the super regional round. FSU, meanwhile, won the Norwich Regional and is hosting as a result of being the No. 1 seed in that regional. Both teams played very well in the regional round. Will that play persist?
South Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina: This is an intriguing series for several reasons, but it might be most intriguing because the two institutions don’t exactly see eye-to-eye at the administrative level. After all, Coastal Carolina once was a school in the South Carolina system. It became independent in 1993. On the field, the Chanticleers used heroics to get past pesky College of Charleston in the Myrtle Beach Regional. South Carolina, though, made easy work of the Columbia Regional field. CCU can earn its first trip to Omaha with a series win this weekend.
Oklahoma vs. Virginia: After an impressive showing at the Norman Regional this weekend, the Sooners hope to continue their winning ways on the road against Virginia, a favorite to win the national title. The Cavaliers had their hands full the past few days with a very pesky St. John’s club. The Cavaliers, though, still will have a significant advantage on the mound entering the weekend. But OU is a hard-nosed club.
Cal State Fullerton vs. UCLA: The Bruins had little trouble mastering LSU and UC Irvine in the Los Angeles Regional. But can they now find a way to master their arch nemesis Cal State Fullerton this weekend? The Bruins definitely have the edge on the mound with Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer and Rob Rasmussen leading the way. Fullerton, though, has the better offense and could be even better if Gary Brown is back in the lineup. This will be a fantastic super regional series.
Miami/Texas A&M vs. Florida: The Gators were fabulous in the Gainesville Regional and await the winner of the Coral Gables Regional. Inclement weather suspended Monday’s regional title game, so Florida won’t know its opponent until late Tuesday afternoon. The Gators took two of three from Miami in a series earlier this season. They have not played Texas A&M.