The Norman Transcript

Sports

May 9, 2012

Low RPI could cost Sooners NCAA tourney berth

NORMAN — The nightmare scenario that keeps Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway out of deep sleep keeps drawing closer. On May 28, the field for the NCAA Tournament is going to be announced. As of Tuesday, the Sooners appear to be on the outside looking in.

The reason is where it stands in the Ratings Percentage Index. The all-powerful tip sheet the NCAA Tournament selection committee uses to rank teams isn’t fond of how OU got to 30-19 on the season. That 3-12 mark against teams ranked in the top 50 is like dragging a 200-pound ball and chain around.

OU is not alone. The RPI isn’t fond of the Big 12 Conference as a whole. Texas and Oklahoma State are tied with Texas A&M for second place in the league. The Longhorns are No. 47 in the RPI and Oklahoma State is No. 85. That’s typically too low for an at-large berth.

So, how did the Big 12 Conference, which has placed at least five teams in the NCAA Tournament every season since 1998 and typically considered no worse than the third best league in college baseball, fall out of favor?

Two things happened: Nebraska left the Big 12 and the Big 12 failed to adjust the schedule to make up for the Huskers’ departure.

The Huskers weren’t even good enough to qualify for the Big 12 tournament their last two seasons in the league. How could that make a difference?

What Nebraska was good enough to do is keep conference teams from playing a three-game series against lowly teams in April and May. With two off weeks just about every conference team has played at least one weekend series against a team ranked below 200 in RPI in the final eight weeks of the season.

“We didn’t see it at the time, and coaches were part of it; it’s not an administrative deal from the Big 12 office; it’s everybody,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “Those two bye weekends means we’ve added over 20 bad RPI games to the league.”

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