However, the regular season champ is not the recipient of the automatic NCAA Tournament bid - that goes to the WAC Tournament Champion - and SJSU fell short when they were eliminated by New Mexico State on Saturday evening by a score of 10-9 during the Napa Auto Parts WAC Tournament at Les Murakmai Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Spartans will learn of their fate shortly after returning from the Islands. SJSU is due to return to San Jose around 7:30 a.m., on Monday, and the NCAA Championship Selection Show will be broadcast beginning at 9:30 a.m., later that morning.
The NCAA Tournament is a 64-team field with 30 conference tournament champions receiving automatic bids, leaving 34 slots available for at-large bids. Lets take a look at how SJSU stacks up against others looking for one of those 34 slots.
The tournament is divided into three sections - regional, super-regional, and the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The first step, the regional, consists of 16 four-team tournaments with the winners of each advancing to the Super-Regionals. The regional is a double-elimination tournament, with the super regionals being best-of-three series. The College World Series is also a double-elimination tournament.
The NCAA Selection Committee criteria is determined by NCAA Bylaw 31.3.3:
- Won-lost record
- Strength of schedule
- Eligibility and availability of student-athletes for NCAA championships
The Committee also uses the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) which takes into consideration a team's:
- Division 1 winning percentage
- Opponents' success
- Opponents' strength of schedule
San Jose State had an RPI of 74 at the conclusion of the regular season. That doesn't bode well for the Spartans considering that no team with an RPI below 59 has received and at-large bid in the past five years.
Other things that may benefit SJSU is the fact that the Spartans finished second in the WAC in team batting average at .339, which places then at No. 16 in the nation. They led the league in pitching with a team ERA of 4.66, and in fielding percentage at .978 - No. 9 in the country.
A big help for the Spartans' cause would be for New Mexico State to win the conference tournament. Should Fresno State take the tournament crown, they would get the automatic conference bid and NMSU could challenge SJSU for an at-large selection even though their RPI is 140 and they played a weak non-conference schedule. It is doubtful the WAC will receive two such at-large bids.
Don Hoekwater is the Publisher of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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