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NCAA Tournament chairman says UK’s sub-500 SEC record kept Wildcats out of tournament

Nick Mingione (Vicky Graff Photo)

NCAA Division I Baseball Committee chairman Ray Tanner tried to explain today why Kentucky was left out of the NCAA Tournament among other things during a conference call.

Q. Along those same lines, how do you balance that between northeastern — Kentucky has got to be wondering how they would finish. Did you have that discussion and how did that play out?
RAY TANNER: That discussion is very difficult to have. I mean, that’s — you play in a different conference, different areas of the country. We know Kentucky has a very good team as it stands. They were 13-17 in the regular season. Going to the SEC tournament, they had a chance to enhance their resumé. They were unable to do that.

Did it all come down to the SEC tournament? No, it didn’t, but they were four games under, and that’s a fact that they were tied for tenth in overall standings in the SEC. They certainly could beat a lot of teams, you know that. Teams in the a SEC, ACC, Pac 12, Big 12, had a really good year. You can beat a lot of other teams.

You know, I guess softball gets everybody in. We didn’t get everybody in from the Southeastern Conference, but Kentucky has a good team but the sub-.500, the four games under, they had a really, really strong metric package. They won five series. They lost a couple years against the bottom teams in the SEC.

So there were some things that weren’t perfect, but the sub-.500 stood out to the committee, and you know, had it been a game or two, it might not have made much difference but it ended up being in total four in the regular season and five if you include the tournament.

Q. I had a question about process a little bit. First of all, I want to ask you about how you guys value weekend series, because we all know that college baseball is set up to win weekend series, and you know, you mentioned Kentucky won five series against regional teams this year and Northeastern didn’t win any. Northeastern lost series against the other two and won against teams outside the Top-100. How much emphasis do you put just generally speaking on a weekend series?
RAY TANNER: Well, there’s emphasis put on your overall body of work, and you know, northeastern didn’t have the same opportunities or the same body of work maybe comparing them to an ACC or an SEC team but they won the regular season and they played in the conference championship.

If you look at them stand-alone, they had a really good year, and that’s, that, became a factor, and then you have to look at — we go back to Kentucky again, they were sub-.500. Do you compare those teams head-to-head? Well, you can take a look at it that way but you take a look at where they finished in their leagues and what’s important, what are your factors what me takes are you using? Committees are different.

You have things in your toolbox with the RPI, the 1-25, 26-50 and you can go on and on, and top strength of schedule, non-conference strength of schedule. You can build this thing until it makes you dizzy a little bit. It can be difficult.

But the sub-.500, we go back to Kentucky, that’s a major issue as to why they were left out of the tournament. I will elaborate for just a second. Talk about weekend series: North Carolina only lost two series the entire year. They only lost two, and Connecticut lost four. They were very close to maybe being a national host, Connecticut. NC State had the slight edge, a little better nonconference slate, and NC State’s two conferences losses were to Florida State and North Carolina, and Connecticut ‘s four were a little bit different.

So sometimes you really do split hairs. There’s a lot of good college baseball teams, and it’s sometimes hard when you get down to the very end and trying to make a decision whether it’s the seed or whether it’s somebody getting into the field.

Q. Curious how you guys evaluate conference standings and conference regular season championships in this era of mega- conferences where you have 14 teams and unbalanced schedules and not everybody’s conference strength of schedule is the same. How much do you take that into consideration?
RAY TANNER: That’s a factor. We look at who you played, who you didn’t play, what the opportunities were, would your conference record possibly have gone up, would it possibly have gone down. I can’t speak to all the conferences, but I know the Southeastern Conference, you missed three on the other side.

I understand it from that viewpoint, and you know, it’s like North Carolina and Clemson didn’t play. That was something we took a look at. Whether it would have gone one way or another, you know, you take a look at things. It does factor into it.

You know, Florida State ended up finishing really strong. They were fourth place in their division, but they played the five best teams above them, and you know, they did really well and they were rewarded for that.

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