Minnesota softball team utterly screwed by NCAA Tournament
The Minnesota Golden Gophers softball team was completely and utterly screwed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, which unveiled the draw for the tourney on Sunday.
Minnesota enters the NCAA Tournament with the best record in D-1 softball at 54-3. They were 51-3 as of last week’s NCAA rankings, which had them No. 2 in the country in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll, and No. 3 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. They received 5 and 4 first-place votes in the respective polls. On top of that, they won three in a row and took home the Big Ten conference tourney crown.
Yet all that wasn’t enough for the selection committee to deem the Golden Gophers one of the top 16 softball teams in the country.
When the bracket was revealed, Minnesota was left unseeded and therefore not hosting one of the regionals.
64 teams get to participate in the NCAA Tournament. Four teams go to a region, which is hosted by each of the 16 seeded teams. Minnesota was shipped off to Tuscaloosa, where they will be a part of Alabama’s region. The Tide received the No. 16 seed.
The biggest reason why Minnesota might not get the most respect from the selection committee is because they play in the Big Ten. The RPI heavily weights the SEC and Pac-12 — understandably so — leaving Minnesota ranked No. 12 in the RPI as of last week. But no matter how you slice it, Minnesota has been one of the best teams in the country all season long, and even the RPI has them in the top 16. There is no possible excuse for Minnesota not hosting a regional.
The other program that got screwed was James Madison, which was 47-6 entering the week and No. 13 in the RPI as of last week. They also are not hosting a regional and instead were sent to Waco for Baylor’s. Last year they made it to the regional final against LSU.
Minnesota has one of the best pitchers in the country in Sara Groenewegen, who is 30-2 with a sparkling 0.59 ERA and 280 strikeouts in 190 innings. They’ve also crushed an absurd 65 home runs this season, including 20 by Kendyl Lindaman, who’s batting .438. They’ll just have to prove the tourney committee wrong by winning their region.
The committee’s big mistake was giving Ole Miss, which just won the SEC tourney, and Kentucky seeds instead of Minnesota and JMU. Maybe there’s some sort of ESPN/SEC TV reason for the choice, but it’s absurd that Minnesota isn’t getting to host one when they so clearly earned and deserved it.