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College Podcast: NCAA Tournament Field Reactions

On this episode of the Baseball America College Podcast, presented by Rapsodo, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy give their reactions to Monday's release of the NCAA Tournament bracket.

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The topics discussed at length are:

  • The fact that Arkansas is the top seed in the field and the top-ranked team in the Top 25 again, making them the top team for the 14th straight week. The record for weeks spent at No. 1 is 1998 Stanford, which was the top team for 15 straight.
  • The top eight seeds in the NCAA Tournament. The only real surprise in the bunch was Notre Dame, the runaway regular-season champions of the ACC, not being one of the top eight seeds. As surprising as that was, it was just part of the pattern that showed that the selection committee were not huge fans of the ACC this season after just two sites were listed among the initial 20 and then bubble teams Pittsburgh and Louisville were left out of the field.
  • RPI and conference affiliation being the primary drivers of the at-large bids. All teams in the RPI top 40 are in the tournament, and in the case of bubble teams like Louisiana State and Alabama, that metric plus having quality schedules by virtue of being in the SEC seems to have pushed them over the top. Even in a wonky year like this, it appears the same old metrics were used to build the field, for better or worse.
  • The impressive performance for Arkansas in going 4-0 to win the SEC Tournament, an event that meant nothing as far as its postseason resume. Tennessee also showed well and gave us another look at a team that should be considered a favorite to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 2005.
  • Duke winning the ACC Tournament, completing an incredible comeback. As recently as a month ago, the Blue Devils were long shots to get into the field of 64. Not only did it finish the regular season strong to get back into at-large position, but it also went ahead and won the tournament to make it official and now it has to be seen as a very dangerous No. 2 seed.
  • The Conference USA Tournament, highlighted by three outstanding games between Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi, the MVC Tournament, which featured Dallas Baptist playing extremely good baseball, and the Southland Conference Tournament, which gave us a good story in McNeese State winning the auto bid after a tough couple of years for its city of Lake Charles, La.
  • Paul Mainieri's retirement at LSU, bringing an end to a career that saw him turn Notre Dame into a national power for a brief period and brought a national title to LSU in 2009.
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