The Road to Quahog: Our Joke NIT FieldFeatures
QUAHOG, R.I. — Teams are celebrating across the nation as they saw their names flashed inside D1Baseball.com’s annual NIT bracket. The teams will meet in the familiar NCAA style format before finally culminating in an eight-team final in Quahog, Sponsored by the Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory and the Pawtucket Brewery, the NIT field has become synonymous with the best of second-tier sporting events like watching people toss bags onto a board, yelling obscenities based on political affiliations and the NFL Pro Bowl.
To be eligible for the 64 team NIT, teams need better than a .500 overall conference record, an impressive resume and a lack of representation on the NCAA Selection Committee.
While the selection criteria largely remained the same, the committee continued its trend of rotating which criteria will carry the most weight. Through the years, the criteria has focused on animal mascot ferocity, a willingness to schedule opponents with bad records, utilized reports from Collegiate Regional Advisory Committee (CRAC) composed exclusively of members of fans of rival programs and had teams contest the games completely in the dark since that is how the teams were kept regarding the selection process.
“We really wanted to make sure we were consistent and use some of the available data after-the-fact to validate picking our favorites,” said Committee Social Director Kendall Rogers. “If you have enough data points, eventually there will be one where your team is better than the competition. Then just use that and only that in your explanation.”
This season, the committee spun the wheel to decide which criteria would be the most meaningful for selecting this year’s field. Conference record was the lucky winner setting off a series of falling dominoes that may have surprised some teams that expected the cherished NIT bids.
The result was just two total teams selected from the SEC, ACC, Big 12, and Pac 12 combined, Miami and California. Notable snubs included Kentucky, Missouri, Georgia Tech, TCU and Arizona.
“Their poor conference records show how bad the teams in those leagues are,” said committee math expert Eric Sorenson. “The committee felt the MAAC was the strongest conference because seven of their 11 teams finished with winning league records. Sure, teams like Kentucky and Arizona might have better teams and our committee felt they would absolutely cruise through MAAC competition, but both sets of Wildcats failed to win more than they lost in their conferences, who I might add, didn’t have as high of a percentage of winning teams as the MAAC. In the end, this showed they are inferior in every way and should disband their programs.
“Plus, I was bitten by a wild cat once. Never cared for them since.”
The committee members, who may or may not have been taking Ambien while they met, poured through the conference records for every team. Coppin State earned the nod as the top overall seed due to its 18-4 record in the MEAC.
“Coppin State obviously put so much emphasis into dominating its conference that they didn’t have a lot of energy left for pre-conference and midweek games, explaining their 3-20 record in non-conference play,” Rogers said while on a break from hating teams. “Conference games matter the most and they were so dominant there that they are obviously one of the nation’s best teams. Because of their conference record Coppin State is our unquestioned number one overall seed.”
Likewise, the committee left-swiped on teams with mediocre conference records. Only one team with a losing conference record made the field – Creighton, which was 8-9. Critics may point to the fact that there were not enough teams with over .500 records to fill all 64 NIT spots but the committee asks that you overlook that and while you are at it also ignore the Blue Jays meaningless 26-7 mark in non-conference play.
“Non-conference play is not a true measure of a team’s strength,” Committee Bias Accelerator Aaron Fitt explained between twitter wars with fans of a team he disrespected by not listing them as the best in every category. “Teams should be evaluated by random, historical geographical groupings; not how they fair against the top RPI tiers of teams.”
Some teams that had good cases for inclusion in the field were instead left out this year due to the phenomena of stolen bids. Unlike the other tournament that awards automatic bids to the party based on how a team performs in an arbitrary four-to-five day period, the NIT has their own way to award bids.
“We decided to take the controversial stance of awarding our automatic bids to the teams that played the best prior to conference tournaments,” Sorenson said while brushing tangles out of his hair. “Sure, sometimes we miss out on a team that was the best for the last five days but we just settle for taking the team that played the best for the 14 weeks prior.”
The committee was saddled with the extra pressure of some schools located in states that forbid travel to other states.
“It got hard trying to find teams from states willing to go to California so we just moved all the games elsewhere,” said Rogers. “Problem solved.”
The committee reminded media covering the event that they are limited to one Facebook “check-in” per game and that one post must include a photo of the field during the national anthem or the view from your seat. Exceptions are made for photos of your kids or pets, but those cannot be liked by people you used to date because that just causes problems.
Games begin May 32-34 with mini-Regional round. Winners advance to the Super-Duper Regionals played the next day in a sudden-death format where the home team bats exclusively in the first three innings to make sure the regular season is sufficiently rewarded. The winners of that round advance in the hallowed classic dubbed “The Road to Quahog.”
Host: Coppin State
|1 Coppin State (1) 18-4||1 Yale 15-6|
|4 Butler 9-8||4 Little Rock 15-14|
|2 Liberty 17-10||2 UL Lafayette 18-12
|3 UCF 13-10||3 Austin Peay 17-13|
|High Point Regional|
Host: High Point
|Annapolis Regional Host: Navy
|1 High Point (2) 19-8||1 Navy 18-7
|4 Gardner-Webb 14-13||4 Texas State 16-14
|2 Fordham 16-8||2 Georgia Southern 18-11
|3 Davidson 14-10||3 Wofford 15-9
|Ruston Regional Host: Louisiana Tech||Monmouth Regional
|1 Louisiana Tech (3) 21-9||1 Monmouth 16-7|
|4 Delaware 12-11||4 North Dakota State 15-13
|2 George Mason 16-8||2 South Alabama 18-11|
|3 VCU 14-10||3 Pepperdine 17-10|
|1 Nevada (4) 20-9||1 Elon 16-8
|4 Bradley 11-10||4 Cal 16-14|
|2 Richmond 15-9||2 Sacramento State 17-7|
|3 Miami-Fla 16-13||3 Grambling 14-10
|Staten Island Regional|
| South Orange Regional
Host: Seton Hall
|1 Wagner (5) 21-7||1 Seton Hall 13-4|
|4 Indiana State 11-10||4 Harvard 12-9|
|2 Michigan 15-8||2 Jacksonville State 18-12|
|3 Charlotte 17-13||3 Central Arkansas 17-13
Host: Jackson State
|1 Bryant (6) 21-7||1 Jackson State 17-7|
|4 St. Mary's 14-13||4 Niagara 13-11|
|2 Illinois 15-9||2 Quinnipiac 16-8
|3 Illinois-Chicago 15-9||3 Central Michigan 16-11|
Host Sam Houston State
Host Alabama State
|1 Sam Houston State (7) 24-6||1 Alabama State 18-6|
|4 Creighton 8-9||4 Manhattan 13-11
|2 Iowa 13-9||2 Southeastern Louisiana 21-9
|3 Siena 14-10||3 Ball State 17-10
Host Grand Canyon
|1 UNCG (8) 19-3||1 Grand Canyon 19-5
|4 Seattle 13-11||4 UC Irvine 13-11
|2 Cal Poly 15-9||2 Charleston 15-8|
|3 Marist 14-10||3 Miami-Ohio 17-10