The D1Baseball NIT: Road To Quahog

QUAHOG, R.I. — Teams are celebrating all across the nation as they saw their names flashed inside D1Baseball.com’s NIT bracket. The teams will meet in the familiar NCAA style format before finally culminating in an eight-team final in Quahog, Rhode Island. 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 the $100 Pay-Per-View Boxing Broadcasts, The World Series Of Uno, and Find The Incorruptible FIFA Executive.

To be eligible for the 64 team NIT, teams need a better than .500 overall record, an impressive resume, and a lack of representation on the NCAA Selection Committee.

While the selection criteria remained the same, the committee continued their trend of rotating which criteria will carry the most weight.

In 2011, the committee based many of their decisions on animal mascot ferocity. In 2012, the committee opted to reward teams with a willingness to schedule opponents with bad records. In 2013, the committee spent at least 10 minutes under an I-10 expressway reviewing reports from Collegiate Regional Advisory Committee (CRAC). CRAC members for each potential NIT team are made up exclusively of fans of rival programs.

In 2014, the committee opted to save money by selecting the bracket as well as conducting all games during the middle of the night in light-less ballparks. This approach resulted in an odd collection of squads. Some teams complained about committee members’ use of reverse polarity initiator (RPI) flash lights to build the bracket. Some committee members defended its use stating that ‘they really didn’t care how the RPI helped them find teams, just that it did’.

On the field, the darkness was not good for the quality of play. The rule was rescinded after studies showed the lack of lights slowed the game pace, hurt fan participation, and resulted in a rash of injuries. Umpire quality was unaffected.

For the third consecutive season, the committee also utilized the OPI ratings system. The OPI – Optional Performance Index – differs from other ratings systems because teams have the option of choosing which results count. If you lose a game, just don’t count that one.

“It makes it harder to evaluate who actually won but hey, finishing second is nothing to be ashamed of,” Committee Pope Eric Sorenson said as he does every year at this time because even if we tried for six hours we couldn’t come up with a funnier, more clever quote than this one. “Coppin State finished second 38 times this season. Good for them. If this was the Olympics they’d have a room full of silver medals.”

Absent from the field this season is five-time defending champion Auburn, who declined an invitation stating, “it is not you, it’s me,” and “I want to start seeing other tournaments”.

Along with the RPI and OPI, the committee also gained input from the Relative Advisory Committee. Each committee member can phone a member of their extended family to help break a tie between similar teams.

“I know I can count on Aunt Gertrude,” Committee Mayor Kendall Rogers explained. “Every time we have two teams whose qualifications look identical, Aunt Gerty can find a way to break the tie using nothing but knitting needles and her catheter bag. I’d like to see some of y’all computer guys try and top that. Sometimes, if she is busy watching her stories, she will let her cat pick the team. And I want you to know that darn feline has picked the last five NIT champions. Yep, she loves Auburn.”

Another change initiated this season involves using an adjusted won-loss record. Patterned after the NCAA’s adjusted RPI to make road wins count 1.3 and road losses count only 0.7, the committee utilized adjusted results.

Visiting teams that trailed by less than three runs at any time during the game can count the game as a win, assuming they provide proof that they might have scored more runs had they been playing at home. Teams playing in warm weather in front of more than 1000 fans were automatically assigned losses, regardless of the scoreboard. This explains why Texas A&M has never qualified for the NIT.

“I think the adjusted winning thingamabob is just what we need to help level the field,” Committee Prime Minister Jeremy Mills muttered silently to himself. “If the power conference teams only want to play at home, then they will have to settle for an invitation to that other tournament. And let me tell you, our tournament has the good swag. You think bowl games have swag. We have a whole bin of cassette tapes. Pretty much every 80s song you could ever want. Weird Al, Culture Club, Biz Markie. Yep, ‘You got what I need’. But anyway, home games are a tremendous advantage, and not just during the seventh inning when all that root, root, rooting is going on.”

Some people were surprised when the bracket was announced and some of the actual regional host locations were not in close proximity to the host team. It had been widely assumed that a host team would host on campus, or at least within 172 miles of campus.

“Whoever gave you that idea?” said Committee Grand Poobah Aaron Fitt. “We have a long history of sending teams three hours from their campus to host. In fact, since you guys don’t seem to like it very much, we will move all of the regional locations anywhere we please. Don’t you think Nome, Alaska would probably like to see some baseball. Hold my Schlitz and watch this.

“After all, why should we give Alabama a home site? They don’t even have a working ballpark. That gets a bee in my bonnet and totally screws up all of our home/away metrics. The last time that happened, Kendall’s Aunt Gerty missed ‘The Guiding Light’ and most of ‘As The World Turns’ getting us back on track. We can’t go through that again.”

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”.

Here is your 2015 NIT Field:

Key West, FL Regional
Host: Michigan State
Dyersville, Iowa Regional
Host: Southern Miss
1 Michigan State 34-23
1 Southern Miss 36-18
4 Milwaukee 39-20
4 Northwestern State 31-23
2 Central Michigan 35-22
2 Memphis 37-21
3 Washington State 29-27
3 South Alabama 37-20
Malibu, CA Regional
Host: North Carolina

Bangor, ME Regional
Host: Missouri

1 North Carolina 34-24
1 Missouri 30-28
4 Norfolk State 27-16
4 St Louis 35-21
2 Liberty 33-23
2 Oklahoma 34-27
3 Navy 37-20
3 Sam Houston State 31-28
Whynot, MS Regional
Host: Washington
Alice Coopers'town, AZ Regional
Host: North Florida
1 Washington 29-25
1 North Florida 45-16
4 South Dakota State 33-23
4 High Point 29-26
2 Loyola Marymount 33-21
2 Troy 30-25
3 Seattle 31-27
3 Alabama State 31-19
Beaver Creek, Ala
Regional
Host: Ohio State
Holly Springs, NC
Regional
Host: Nevada
1 Ohio State 35-20
1 Nevada 41-15
4 McNeese State 32-25
4 BYU 28-25
2 Kentucky 30-25
2 Arizona 31-24
3 Kent State 31-22
3 Grand Canyon 32-22
Fresno, Ohio Regional
Host: UC Irvine
Hahira, Ga Regional
Host: Nebraska
1 UC Irvine 33-23
1 Nebraska 34-23
4 Sacramento State 33-27
4 SEMO 36-23
2 Fresno State 31-28
2 Creighton 32-19
3 San Diego 33-22
3 Illinois-Chicago 29-22
Nome, AK Regional
Host: South Carolina
Atlanta, TX Regional
Host: Georgia Tech
1 South Carolina 32-25
1 Georgia Tech 32-23
4 Wofford 39-22
4 Winthrop 40-19
2 Wake Forest 27-262 Middle Tennessee 32-27
3 Georgia Southern 30-27
3 Georgia State 30-27
Honolulu, HI Regional
Host Alabama
Miami, Kansas Regional
Host UCF
1 Alabama 32-28
1 UCF 31-27
4 Samford 32-26
4 Campbell 32-25
2 Southeastern Louisiana 42-17
2 Duke 31-22
3 UAB 33-25
3 Florida Gulf Coast 30-26
Bristol, TN Regional
Host: Connecticut
Sandwich, MA Regional
Host Texas Tech

1 Connecticut 35-25
1 Texas Tech 31-24
4 Rhode Island 26-25
4 Nicholls State 34-19
2 Bryant 29-25
2 New Mexico 32-27
3 Rider 28-22
3 UTSA 33-25

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