NCAA committee awarded State no favors

There’s an old saying that nothing comes easy in the post-season, but the NCAA baseball committee went a little overboard with Mississippi State.

John Cohen, who came to the C Spire Ferriss Trophy luncheon with one black eye (the result of a freak accident) last week, must feel like he has another shiner today.

Yes, the Bulldogs get to host, but that was a given. They earned it with a 43-17 record, a Top 10 RPI and by making it to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. But after that, the NCAA awarded Cohen’s team nothing but headaches.

How many regional hosts get to open against a team to whom they lost two of three (at home) during the regular season? One: MSU

How many regionals have an average RPI under 30? One: MSU’s. Only three others have an average RPI under 40.

How many 1-seeds are likely to face a pitcher like Central Arkansas’s Caleb McClanahan? Well there may be more, but State faces the real deal, McClanahan himself.

Central Arkansas looks more like a 3-seed that a 2-seed, and 3-seed Mercer, 43-16, just as easily could have been a 2-seed. Two-seed South Alabama has a No. 17 RPI, better than Kansas State, which is hosting.

If State plays its best baseball, the Bulldogs will advance. But against this brand of competition they’ll have to play their best. There’s no room for error.

Just for comparison sakes, look at the Starkville Regional vs. the North Carolina State Regional where Ole Miss plays. Average RPI of the four teams in Starkville. 29.4. Average RPI of the four teams at the North Carolina State Regional where Ole Miss plays. It’s 60.

Both NC State and Ole Miss have high RPIs but William & Mary is No. 44 and Binghamton No. 171.

And that presents a quandary for Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco. North Carolina State no doubt will save its ace Carlos Rodon against Binghamton for an anticipated second round game against Ole Miss. But can Bianco afford to hold his ace Bobby Wahl against WIlliam and Mary, whose Friday night starter John Farrell finished the season with an 11-2 mark?

It will be a difficult decision for Bianco. But you’d have to like your chances much better against hosting N.C. State with Wahl on the hill. It’s a gamble, one N.C. State can afford against Binghamton.

There are no Binghamtons in the Starkville Regional.

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