“The selection committee got it wrong.”
How many times during Selection Sunday in March have we heard that take? How often do we hear Dick Vitale and others drone on and on about a mid-major team that missed out on the Big Dance?
Well Cats fans, now is our time to gripe. The Kentucky baseball team did not make the cut when the participants were announced earlier today. The Wildcats were 34-22 (.607) on the season and defeated a lot of stellar competition, but the committee felt UK’s sub-.500 (13-17) record in conference-play did not warrant them a spot in the tourney. Really?!
The SEC had 10, yes 10, teams included in the field of 64. That ties an NCAA record. The SEC was far and away the best conference all season, and while Kentucky finished below .500, the Cats handled their business against some of the toughest competition.
The Kentucky Wildcats were 9-12 against SEC teams that made the NCAA Tournament, including series wins over Mississippi State, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina.
While we are disappointed with the outcome, we are incredibly appreciative of the immense support we received this season from the #BBN and beyond. We will hold our heads high and continue to build this program as we move forward. Thank you! #WeAreUK— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) May 28, 2018
Just like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, there are automatic bids. In fact, there are 31 of them. The other 33 selections are at-large bids selected by the committee. The field also consists of eight top seeds, which are the prohibitive favorites to reach the College World Series in Omaha. The SEC is represented by 4 of those 8 teams.
UK also had victories over NCAA Tournament qualifiers Louisville, Morehead State, Houston and a series win over Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are hosting a regional.
Kentucky also had the No. 32 RPI in the country and at one point earlier this season was ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
Northeastern, who made it in over UK, got blown out by Missouri 20-1 (12-18 in the SEC), were boat-raced by Texas Tech (who the Cats defeated 2 out of 3 games) 22-3 and lost twice in the CAA Tournament to eventual champion UNC-Wilmington. With all due respect, Northeastern has no business getting into the tournament over UK.
Kentucky was punished for being in a strong, competitive conference, period! Yes, the Wildcats could have helped their cause by beating Auburn in the opening round of the SEC Tournament, but that game went into extra innings, and in the end, the Wildcats fell just short 3-4.
While the Cats will lose a lot of talented seniors and several skilled juniors as well, coach Nick Mingione will get his club back to their winning ways next season. He has a top notch group of incoming freshmen, and the new stadium will add some increased hype to an already growing Kentucky baseball fan base.