The Minnesota Gophers were the recipients of a huge snub by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee yesterday. How bad a snub (really bad or all time bad) is up for debate, but one interesting side note to the whole story was the NCAA’s unwillingness to comment or answer questions about how the Gophers went from the #7 team in the Committee’s May 7th rankings to the #17th team in the May 14 seeding.
After being questioned about this repeatedly by local media, the NCAA released the following statement. Please click on the following embedded tweet from @JaceFrederick to see the full statement in four images.
Statement from the NCAA softball committee on the Gophers seeding pic.twitter.com/gHQLT76Zm0— jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) May 15, 2017
This statement is nonsense
It is nonsense for one simple reason. On May 7th the same NCAA committee ranked the Gophers #7. A week later, they ranked them #17. There is nothing in the criteria I’m about to quote from their statement that explains that kind of a drop.
The NCAA’s statement only makes sense if they used different criteria on 5/7 and 5/14
“As a part of the selection criteria, the committee reviews each team’s body of work individually when selecting the field of 64 teams for the softball tournament. When selecting the top 16 seeds the committee emphasizes a team’s performance against other Top 25 teams along with other variables including strength of schedule.”
Performance against the RPI Top 25 is a metric that makes sense. But the application between May 7th and May 14th seems extremely suspect. As noted above, on May 7th Minnesota was ranked #7 and had an RPI Top 25 record of 2-2. Here’s a list of teams that were behind Minnesota and outside the Top 10 on May 7th, their record vs RPI Top 25 as of 5/7, and what they did before getting seeded:
- Oklahoma: 6-5 vs. RPI Top 25 teams on 5/7; beat no Top 25 teams en route to Big 12 Tournament title.
- Utah: 11-5 vs. RPT Top 25 teams on 5/7; lost to #4 Washington 3 straight times before seeding.
- Ole Miss: 8-14 vs. RPI Top 25 teams on 5/7; beat #1 Florida, #15 Alabama, and #14 LSU en route to SEC Tournament title.
- LSU: 6-13 vs. RPI Top 25 teams on 5/7; beat #9 Tennessee and #9 Auburn in SEC Tournament.
- Kentucky: 6-10 vs. RPI Top 25 teams on 5/7; beat #23 South Carolina in SEC Tournament.
- Baylor: 7-2 vs. RPI Top 25 teams on 5/7; lost first Big 12 Tourney game to non-ranked team, no wins vs. Top 25 in losers bracket before seeding.
- Alabama: 9-12 vs. RPI Top 25 teams on 5/7; beat #7 Texas A&M in SEC Tournament.
The only thing Minnesota lacked here was a chance to play as many Top 25 opponents based on the luck of the draw in their B1G schedule. However, that didn’t seem to matter on 5/7 so amount of games vs. Top 25 can’t be the reason. Also, several of these teams (notably Oklahoma, Utah, LSU, Kentucky, Baylor, and Alabama) didn’t really do enough to improve their overall record versus RPI Top 25 in the final week to justify a jump over Minnesota unless the NCAA used different criteria for the 5/7 rankings and 5/14 seedings.
Additionally, two regular-season rankings were released, however, the rankings are not used by the committee when determining the seeds and final bracket that was released yesterday.
Ok cool. Except this is a red herring, as the critical question is whether you used the same criteria to rank the teams for those two regular season rankings that you did for the final seeds. If the answer is yes, you screwed over Minnesota for reasons that need further explanation. If the answer is no, then why are your releasing regular season rankings using a different model than the one used on the final seeds?
When the committee compared Minnesota against the other teams being considered for the Top 16 seeds, Minnesota did not as many regular season Top 10 and Top 25 wins as compared to other teams. The teams that were selected as the 16 seeds had at least one or more Top 10 wins and between 4-18 Top 25 wins. Minnesota did not have any Top 10 wins and only two Top 25 wins.
This is a reasonable metric, but again the problem is that this was already true when they ranked Minnesota #7 on May 7th. Minnesota’s 2-2 record versus the Top 25 and lack of Top 10 wins didn’t change. And to reiterate from above, the same is true of multiple teams not ranked in the Top 10 on 5/7.
- Oklahoma did not add any Top 10 or Top 25 wins.
- Utah did not add any Top 10 or Top 25 wins.
- Baylor lost their first Big 12 tournament game and added no Top 10 or Top 25 wins in the losers bracket.
In other words, nothing changed in “vs. Top 10/Top 25” metric over the last week yet all 3 of these teams jumped Minnesota for a Top 16 seed. There is no way to justify this unless the NCAA used different criteria for the 5/7 rankings and 5/14 seedings.
Furthermore, Minnesota’s strength of schedule was 114. The top seeded teams had strengths of schedules ranging from 1-36.
This is another valid metric. Unfortunately for the NCAA, the teams Minnesota faced (#64 Northwestern, #35 Ohio State, and #27 Illinois) couldn’t have caused their SOS to drop drastically enough to justify jumping teams like Oklahoma, Utah, Baylor, or several others above them. Once again, this statement only makes sense if the NCAA used different criteria for the 5/7 rankings and 5/14 seedings.
Look at what the NCAA never mentions
For all their talk about records versus RPI Top 10/25 teams, the NCAA committee never bothers to address the fact that this clearly important metric in their scale still put Minnesota at #11 despite their SOS and their 2-2 record vs. the Top 25. I wonder why that is?
Aren’t you whining like a Wisconsin fan?
Nope. Wisconsin fans complained about being seeded consistently low according to the criteria the NCAA says it cares about. I’m complaining about the NCAA citing valid criteria in a way that doesn’t explain how Minnesota was ranked as a Super Regional host a mere week ago. For this to be the same thing, Minnesota would have to have been unranked last week and then I’d still have to be complaining today while ignoring the NCAA’s stated criteria.
Did the Gophers respond with a quality subtweet of the NCAA?
Yes, yes they did.
The NCAA committee hasn’t explained why they screwed over Minnesota and are hiding behind a nonsense statement while refusing to answer questions on the subject.
How bad was this snub?
This poll is closed
The worst ever.
Only sort of bad.
It wasn’t a snub, On Wisconsin.