• WIN A PRIZE! Pick which teams will advance to the NCAA Championship
Eighty-one teams had to be invited to the NCAA Men’s Regionals to fill out the the six sites. However, 69 or 70 teams were at-large invites, while the remaining were automatic qualifiers as conference championship winners.
(The reason I say 69 or 70 is because that depends on if you thought Purdue would be in the mix. The Boilermakers were below .500 in the winning percentage department and outside the magic number in one poll, but not the other.)
Selecting Nos. 1-60 . . . a piece of cake for the NCAA Men’s Golf Committee. Even if the seedings are off by a few spots, no big deal. But the tough part for the committee was making sure Nos. 61-81 were spot on. The idea is not to leave a team out that may have been better than another that got in.
Some may say it’s really not that much to get worked up about, because the last few teams to get into regional play aren’t likely to advance to the NCAA Championship. And that’s probably right.
But it is a big deal.
The goal of most college golf teams is just to get into the postseason. Sure, everyone wants to talk about winning a national championship, but you have to be realistic about that when you are at a school such as VCU, UNC-Wilmington, East Carolina or Washington State.
This is where the talk focuses this year. How did the committee pick VCU and UNCW over East Carolina and Washington State? The Pirates and Cougars were both ranked ahead of the Rams and Seahawks in the Golfstat rankings and the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Yes, the Golfweek numbers are not official, but the committee members had to at least take a peek at Golfweek.com.
The Golfweek numbers and the Golfstat numbers had East Carolina and Washington State outside that magic number, but had VCU and UNCW ranked worse. This is where the head-scratching starts: Golfstat had East Carolina and Washington State ranked inside the magic number. There must have been something that the committee latched onto.
Some say Washington State got a raw deal because the committee did not want to take all 10 Pac-10 teams (the other nine got in). I doubt this. I hope that the committee left the conference affiliation out of its decision-making process. Had WSU been in the Big West Conference, the committee might have viewed the Cougars differently – bad finishes (14th out of 16, 13th out of 20, and 10th out of 10) in their last three events probably did not help.
Some say VCU was invited because Norwood Teague, VCU’s director of athletics, is on the Men’s Golf Committee. I would certainly hope this is not true and just something people use as an excuse.
Based on statistics, the committee tossed out Washington State, New Orleans, East Carolina and Kansas State. Instead, it choose VCU and UNC-Wilmington.
In the future, it seems best to take the magic number and subtract five.
One more thing to note: There were two teams left without a regional bid that were inside the number in the Golfweek rankings – No. 63 Central Arkansas and No. 65 New Orleans. Central Arkansas was not eligible for postseason play until next year. The Bears are in their final year of a four-year transition period from Division II to Division I. As for New Orleans, the Privateers are in their final year of play at the D-I level.
Now it’s time to focus on the six regionals and the journey to crowning a match-play champion in June at The Honors Course.