RPI haunts Alabama again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I just love NCAA selection days whether it be college basketball or college baseball.

There is always that tension and drama leading up to the announcement of where teams are headed and who they are matched up with.

Then there is more drama. Those who were on the mythical "bubble," learn their fate and then those who did make it in, usually have a beef with who they are matched up against.

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Monday would be a perfect example.

While everyone was enjoying a day off to honor our fallen men and women in the U.S. armed services, baseball teams across the country were glued to television sets early Monday morning to learn of their future in the NCAA tournament regional tournaments.

The Southeastern Conference, which is arguably the toughest baseball conference in the country, had nine teams make the tournament.

Your typical teams like Alabama, LSU, Mississippi, Tennessee and Mississippi State earned berths. And then there were the bubble teams like Auburn.

The Tigers didn't have a good enough conference record to earn a berth in the conference tournament, but at 32-24, they are headed to Tallahassee, Fla., to compete against the likes of South Alabama, Florida State and Army.

Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide will head to the Big Easy this weekend to face the likes of Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern University and the No. 1 team in the nation and nation's No. 1 seed in the overall tournament, Tulane.

While Auburn was glad to hear that their baseball season was continuing in Tallahassee, Alabama coach Mike Wells was crying over the fact his team, which had such a great year at 38-21, would be put in such a tough regional in New Orleans.

So of course the comparison had to be made that Auburn had an easier draw, whereas the Tide is now faced with the daunting task of having to beat the nation's top team to advance to a super regional.

Cry me a river!

My advice to Wells and his staff: If you don't like where you have been selected to go, then just don't go at all.

Wells later came to the conclusion that Alabama's RPI was as strong as Auburn's.

He would be correct. Auburn's RPI ranking is 18, while Alabama's is 24.

Looks pretty close, but lets study the Crimson Tide's non-conference games.

Alabama opened up at baseball juggernaut Hawaii and followed with series with UNC Asheville, Duquesne, McNeese State and Miami-Ohio, which has the highest RPI of the five with a 47.

You don't have to look to far down the RPI rankings to notice Auburn's non-conference opponents. The Tigers split a home and home series with Georgia Tech, which has an RPI ranking of 4, followed by Clemson at No. 6 and then Florida State at No. 27.

It's evident Alabama hasn't realized that the NCAA selection committee looks at non-conference schedule and schedule strength.

If this sounds like a broken record Tide fans, it is. I don't think I have to remind you of the year that Alabama's basketball team was left out of the tournament because of a shoddy non-conference schedule.

It's drama like this that makes

NCAA tournaments great.

It also reminds me of something else.

No one likes a whiner.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can e-mail him at kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com or call (334) 383-9302 ext. 122.