Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018
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NCAA baseball and softball tournaments on track to skip over the Midwest

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Florida's Deacon Liput, center, is mobbed by teammates after a home run in the 2017 College World Series. The Gators are ranked No. 1, and SEC teams line the top of the polls.

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In the diamond sports, 2018 is not shaping up to be a great year for college teams in the Midwest.

With college baseball and softball conference tournaments currently ongoing, there is a good chance that not a single team from the 12 Midwestern states will be a regional host in either NCAA tournament.

Both the baseball and softball tournaments operate in the same fashion. Like basketball, 64 teams enter the field, but the top 16 teams play host to a four-team, double-elimination tournament to start the tournament. The last team standing from the four-team field moves onto super regionals for a three-game series with another regional winner.

The eight super regional winners move onto the College World Series.

As it stands currently, no teams who play in the Midwest rank inside the top 16 in RPI for baseball or softball. Minnesota baseball dropped from 14th to 17th in the most recent RPI rankings, while no Midwestern softball team is ranked in the top 25 of RPI.

In the human polls, Minnesota is No. 15 in the D1baseball.com top 25, while Michigan softball is No. 16 in the USA Today/Coaches poll.

The Southeastern Conference dominates the top of the RPI rankings for both softball and baseball. Of the top 16 teams in both polls, SEC teams account for seven of the top 16 in baseball and eight of the top 16 in softball. Oregon is ranked No. 1 in softball and Florida has the top spot in baseball.

Last season, the NCAA came under fire for its treatment of Minnesota softball before the postseason. The Gophers won the Big Ten, finished the regular season 54-3, and were ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll, yet were not awarded a regional site. Instead, the Gophers had to play at perennial power Alabama.

Home field traditionally has been important in the NCAA tournament. In last year’s field, nine of the 16 regional hosts advanced, while all 16 hosts in the softball tournament won their regional.

Contact Nicholas Piotrowicz at npiotrowicz@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz

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