Whether you have been following Gophers softball for the entirety of their 54-3 season-to-date or if you’re just coming to this story now for the indignity of it all, know this: the NCAA’s decision to not give Minnesota one of the 16 seeds in the upcoming 64-team tournament — thus sending the Gophers, one of the best teams in the country, on the road to Alabama for the regional — is a snub.
There is no other way to describe how a team ranked No. 3 in the country, rated No. 7 just a week ago (before winning the Big Ten tournament) by the NCAA selection committee and slotted 11th in the RPI did not manage to land in the top 16.
What we can only hope to parse out now is whether this is just a garden variety “snub” that comes about every time teams are picked for a tournament or if this is, in fact, one of the worst snubs the NCAA has ever dished out.
Minnesota fans certainly know they would pick the latter. (More on that in a minute). But that’s not exactly an impartial crowd.
ESPN’s Graham Hays, who has no horse in this race, adds some good fuel to case for historic snub.
Tweeted Hays: “In covering something like 40 brackets between sports, not sure I’ve ever seen worse committee blunder than unseeded Minnesota. Inexcusable.”
He also tweeted that from 2008-2016, every team ranked No. 3 was seeded in the top eight of the NCAA softball tournament. All but one team was seeded among the top four. For the Gophers to not even be in the top 16 is baffling.
The committee’s only ammunition for leaving Minnesota out of the seeding was the Gophers’ 2-2 record against teams in the RPI top 25 and the fact that the Gophers didn’t have a win against an RPI top 10 team.
BUT: the two top-25 losses came against Washington more than two months ago. The Gophers didn’t get to play Michigan — the other Big Ten team in the RPI top 25 — because that’s the way the schedule broke this season. Against the other Big Ten teams that made the NCAA tournament aside from Michigan — Wisconsin, Ohio State and Illinois — the Gophers went a combined 6-1. They also defeated NCAA tournament teams Texas (twice), LSU, California, Notre Dame (twice) and Oregon State during non-conference play. Every one of those teams, conference and non-conference, is in the RPI top 50.
What more does a team have to do?
Perhaps go undefeated — or would that have been enough?
— Scott Sorenson (@CoachSorenson) May 15, 2017
Relocating the entire school from the north to the south might help — all 13 SEC teams made the field of 64, by the way — but moving all of Minnesota to the south might be tricky.
@JoeCStrib Besides being in the south what more do you have to do?
— Dan Johnson (@djdans) May 15, 2017
At the end of the day, there’s no viable explanation except that the Gophers received what looks to be one of the worst snubs in NCAA tournament history. That’s no hyperbole. It’s reality.
— Josh (@Jmoeschl7) May 15, 2017