Selection Monday sits only four weeks away. The college baseball season is entering its final turn and more and more thoughts on the NCAA Tournament come to mind.
While some may project the tournament field, disect which teams will be in and which won’t, we’re not ones to speculate. Instead, we hope value is found in giving insight into the process.
We may not be able to calm the nerves of Husker fans, worried their team will be looking in at the field of 64 from the outside nor answer whether or not the Illini will receive a nation seed, but here’s a lot at how ultimately those fates will be decided.
The current members of the Division I Baseball National Committee are:
Mike Buddle, Senior Associate Director for Athletics, Wake Forest
Pat Chun, Director of Athletics, Florida Atlantic
Robert Goodman, Senior Associate Commissioner, Colonial Athletic Association
Dave Heeke, Director of Athletics, Central Michigan
Ron Prettyman, Director of Athletics, Indiana State
Joel Erdman, Director of Athletics, South Alabama
Eric Hyman, Director of Athletics, Texas A&M
Dan Guerrero, Director of Athletics, UCLA
Scott Sidwell, Director of Athletics, San Francisco
With Heeke serving as the committee’s chair, those ten members are responsible for putting together the tournament field. The committee will conduct telephone conferences April 13, May 12 and May 18 before conducting an in-person meeting Friday through Monday, May 22-25, to complete the selection process. The NCAA Tournament field is composed of 31 teams which earned a berth by capturing their conference’s automatic bid, and 33 at-large teams. The committee will seed the top eight national seeds and the 16 No. 1 teams, make the final selections, regional and super regional site determinations and pairings.
The only requirement for a team to be eligible to be picked as an at-large team is to have a record better than .500 against Division I teams, sorry 2013 Nebraska.
How does the committee select the 33 at-large teams?
From the NCAA’s 2015 Division I Baseball Championship Manual, the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is a tool used to evaluate at-large teams. The RPI is a rating composed of an institution’s Division I winning percentage, their opponents’ average winning percentage and their opponents’ opponents’ average winning percentage.
In addition to the RPI, the selection committee may consider, and most certainly does, comparative data. Data the manual lists include:
- Division I record
- Overall RPI rank
- Nonconference record and RPI
- Conference regular season record
- Conference tournament results
- Road record and RPI
- Last 15 games’ record
- Its record against teams ranked 1-25, 26-50, 51-100, 101-150, 151 and below in the RPI
- Head-to-head record
- Common opponents
- Input from the regional advisory committee
What’s the regional advisory committee?
The job of the regional advisory committee is to do just as it sounds, advise on matters within the region. Keeping track of whats going on in their region is a tough task for a national committee member, members who have jobs running an athletic department of athletic conference. Regional advisory committees are there to give insight as to how the teams in their region look, is Team A from Conference 1 better than Team B from Conference 2.
For the purpose of the Big Ten, which is one of four conferences in the Mideast Region joining the Mid-American, Ohio Valley conferences and Summit League, here are the Mideast regional advisory members.
Buddie, vice chair
Western Illinois head coach Ryan Brownlee
Jacksonville State head coach Jim Case
Penn State head coach Rob Cooper
Ball State head coach Rich Maloney
Just as the national committee meet via teleconference in the months and weeks leading up to the announcement of the NCAA Tournament field, each committee member checks in with their the regional advisory committees. The Mideast regional advisory committee first spoke with Heeke on April 6, are to again on May 11 and 18th.
How does a team host?
Before a team is selected to host a regional, the university must submit a bid to do so. A bid includes a proposed budget, facility evaluation form, proof of insurance (which is a minimum of $1 million) and a minimum financial guarantee of $50,000 for a regional, $35,000 for super regional, which is to be 75 percent of the estimated net receipts.
Once that requirement has been met, the selection committee will consider:
- The quality and availability of the facility and other necessary accommodations
- Lights aren’t required by the manual states lights are highly recommended
- Revenue potential
- Attendance history and potential
- Geographic location
- Championship operation costs
The deadline for submission of proposed budgets for regionals and super regionals is May 15. The 16 selected regional hosts will be announced on Sunday, May 24, the night before the entire field of 64 is revealed. The eight super regional sites will be announced on Monday, June 1.
Are there any rules to who is in a regional?
After the 16 regional sites have been selected, the 64 competing teams set, there are restrictions and guidelines the committee follows when creating the tournament bracket and 16 four-team regionals.
- Whenever possible, the pairings for regionals will be based on the closet geographic location of teams to the tournament site
- Teams may be moved outside of their region to balance the bracket, or if an out-region site is of comparable distance
- Conference teams are not allowed to be placed in the same regional
- Teams who are selected No. 1 seeds cannot meet another No. 1 seed from the same conference until the CWS
What does this all mean?
In short, there is a lot that goes into selecting the NCAA Tournament field. It’s easy to banter and bicker when the tournament bracket is finalized and unveiled, but from evaluating potential revenue for hosting sites to geographically balancing the tournament regionals, there is a lot to consider when creating the field.
The Big Ten is headed for a historic year in relation to the NCAA Tournament and a lot questions will be asked with few answers found. But for as much uncertainty that goes into the tournament selection process, here’s hoping the above helps.