College : : Story
Monday, May 27, 2013

National seed dilemma

Kendall Rogers        

North Carolina State head coach Elliott Avent was noticeably frustrated over the phone after the NCAA announced this year's college baseball postseason field of 64, including those always-important eight national seeds.

As the NCAA Selection Committee met throughout the weekend, the Wolfpack seemed to be in fantastic shape to earn one of those eight national seeds. Florida State stumbled in the ACC tournament, the Wolfpack went 2-1, their lone loss coming in an 18-inning affair against North Carolina, and Oregon failed to do a clean sweep of Utah to end Pac-12 regular-season play.

Everything seemed to be in line for the Wolfpack to get a national seed, but it didn't happen, as the NCAA announced Florida State and Oregon as the final two national seeds, snubbing the Wolfpack and denying the Atlantic Coast Conference of four national seeds.

Elliott Avent expected to be jubilant on Selection Monday. (NC State photo)

"It's really unbelievable," Avent said. "I'm just really disappointed right now. It's not what I want to focus on, though, because when you look at what our guys have done this entire season, they've never gotten too far ahead of themselves. In the end, we hope it doesn't matter, but we're disappointed because we thought we deserved to get a national seed."

N.C. State certainly had an overwhelming case to be a national seed, but was met with some stiff competition. NCAA Selection Committee chairman Dennis Farrell said four teams -- Florida State, N.C. State, Oregon and Indiana -- were in the mix for two of the eight national seeds.

"We spent a considerable amount of time on those last two national seeds. We had a top six identified rather quickly and very early in the process, but not those other four teams," Farrell said. "The committee thoroughly dissected all of those teams, and in some cases, it was like splitting hairs."

First things first, let's take an inside look at the teams that beat out the Wolfpack for the final two national seeds. Florida State's inclusion as one of the top eight national seeds wasn't too much of a surprise. We had the Seminoles as a national seed in our final projections for a reason. Despite going 0-4 last week, FSU put together a solid overall resume that included 14 wins vs. RPI Top 50 and an RPI of 8 to go with a 20-11 ACC record and road series win over the Wolfpack.

Though Farrell included Indiana as one of the teams considered for a national seed, the Hoosiers certainly didn't have a national seed worthy resume. IU finished the regular season and conference tournament action with a solid RPI of 12, along with a 10-9 mark vs. RPI Top 50. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers had significantly higher of a strength of schedule -- 71 -- compared to other teams competing for national seeds. Color me a huge fan of the Hoosiers as a team with an electric offense and pitching staff, but this wasn't a national seed team this season.

Oregon was the rather interesting inclusion, though. Though we had the Ducks listed as a national seed in some projections early last week, the Ducks' resume just doesn't compare to North Carolina State. The Ducks do have a very solid RPI of 9, but were just 6-10 vs. RPI Top 50 teams. Two things helped the Ducks, though: they played non-conference series against Cal State Fullerton and Vanderbilt, and went 23-7 on the road, including a late-season road series sweep over Ohio State. What wasn't discussed in the teleconference by Farrell is the fact the Ducks lost all of their marquee series against teams such as Fullerton, Vanderbilt, UCLA and Arizona State.

"We were impressed with Oregon's non-conference schedule, and it went on the road late in the season at Ohio State," Farrell said. "I think as a whole, the committee was impressed with Oregon's effort to schedule some tough out of conference games."

As for N.C. State, the Wolfpack put together quite an impressive resume during the regular season. They finished the regular season and conference tournament action with an RPI of 7, a 44-14 overall record, and most impressive, the Wolfpack had an 11-9 record vs. RPI Top 25, 18-10 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 26-13 vs. RPI Top 100. Additionally, the Wolfpack played the No. 9 SOS as compared to No. 25 for Oregon and No. 71 for Indiana.

Going deeper into the resumes, N.C. State's marquee series wins came against Virginia Tech (11) and Georgia Tech (21), while Oregon's marquee series wins were against Arizona (58), Stanford (65) and Ohio State (63).

Breakdown all of those resumes and come up with your own conclusions. But as it stands, we're fine with Florida State having a national seed, but remain concerned Oregon got the last national seed over the Wolfpack. The NCAA Selection Committee consistently explains that national seeds are handed out on the basis of individual merit, not necessarily limiting national seeds by conference. However, it seems in this case the committee didn't want to the ACC having four national seeds.

With all that said, coach Avent and the Wolfpack could have the final laugh in this ordeal. Though they didn't earn a national seed, the Wolfpack would hit the road to Eugene, Ore., to face the Ducks should both teams win their respective regionals.

N.C. State already has one of the nation's elite teams. Now there's extra motivation involved.

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