The SEC tournament had to be a big disappointment for John Cohen and the UK baseball team, getting upset by Ole Miss on a walk-off homer and then getting drubbed by lower seed Alabama to wind up out of the tournament before the semifinal round. The loss to 'Bama can maybe be forgiven -- after all, we beat the Tide 4 straight this year, and doing a five-game season sweep on a team as good as Alabama is a very tall order. But the Ole Miss game was a missed opportunity that may wind up haunting Kentucky as the conference champions are chosen and the at-large selections begin for the NCAA baseball tournament.
Kentucky is now 42-17, sporting a 25-1 non-conference record, a fourth-place finish in the SEC regular season and 19-0 mark at home this year. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to note that the one loss we had in our non-conference slate this year was -- who else -- Louisville, who just won their way into the NCAA tournament with a victory over Cincinnati yesterday in the finals of the Big East tournament. Previously, the Cardinals were considered very, very iffy for the NCAA tournament, but they now have earned the automatic Big East berth.
So where do the Wildcats sit for the post-season? Well, Rivals baseball currently has the Cats slated to be the 2nd seed in the Houston regional, who they figure will be hosted by #5 Rice University. We'll see how that actually works out very soon.
So how do NCAA baseball at-large teams get selected, anyway? Fortunately, our SB Nation colleagues at Corn Nation, the Nebraska Cornhuskers' blog, had this interview with Damani Leech , the NCAA Director of Baseball and Football last year in which the process is described in detail. I think you will find it is very much as you would expect, and now that an RPI has been created for college baseball just like basketball and football, the tools the NCAA has for assessing who the best 34 at-large teams are is very similar to those we are most familiar with in basketball. This interview is a must-read for college baseball fans and those who are just curious about the process in a sport that is fast becoming one of the Wildcat's best.
We'll have more coverage of the Bat Cats assuming they make the NCAA's, which is almost (but not quite) a foregone conclusion. Their finish to the season in the SEC tournament was a big disappointment to many, and it will no doubt affect both the seed and the location of our regional opponents. CollegeBaseballInsider.com has an incredible nine SEC teams getting into the tourney (think this league isn't tough?), two more than the nearest competitor, the Big 12, with seven. Just to make you feel a little better, the Big East is expected to get two whole teams into the tournament. Louisville arguably would not have made it without the autobid, as their RPI just prior to the championship game was only 56. But give the Cardinals props, they did it the old-fashioned way -- they earned it when it was looking like do or die. Congratulations to them.
I hope everyone is continuing to enjoy this beautiful Memorial day weekend. I am sitting out on my deck enjoying the sounds of nature as I write this piece, and thinking what a great day it is for a little baseball.