Bren Spillane, Illinois (Illinois)

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Etheridge: Examining The Selections

Analysis

Omaha dreams continue for 64.

The Road to Omaha was unveiled Monday and brought smiles in places while others are left to gripe. Much of the grumbling concerned the omission of Kentucky. Ranked for much of the season, the Wildcats had a very talented roster and a resume unparalleled among bubble teams except for one key metric – conference record.

UK was left out despite a #30 RPI, eight top 25 wins and 15 top 50 wins. However, they were just 13-17 in league play and lost its only game in the SEC Tournament.

“I think anybody who follows college baseball recognizes that Kentucky has a good club but there are some metrics that we look at,” said NCAA Selection Committee Chairman Ray Tanner. “One of them is metrics against conference competition. There is only one team in the field with sub-500 record against conference competition. It was a glaring weakness against Kentucky.

“They had a strong metric package,” said Tanner. “They won five conference series but they lost a couple of series to teams at the bottom of the SEC (vs Alabama and Tennessee). There were some things that weren’t perfect. Had they been a game below .500, it probably wouldn’t have mattered as much. But it ended up being four games in the regular season and five if you include the tournament.”

That conference mark kept the Wildcats out and opened the door for a team like Northeastern to earn a spot. The CAA regular season champs went 36-19 with a strong #35 RPI but did not win a series against a top 100 team and went 3-9 versus the RPI top 50. If conference record was the issue for Kentucky, one can’t help but wonder how Kentucky would fair in an easier league – the CAA is rated as the 13th RPI conference.

 


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