Tuesday, June 1, 2010

long weekend review

Well, yeah. It could definitely have been a better weekend as far as weekends go. You know all about lacrosse because I already told you all about lacrosse. Major punch in the gut. I tell you what: given that the ACC baseball tournament game against Miami asn't going to change our own fortunes win or lose, I think I'd have traded that win for a win against Duke in lacrosse.

And I realize this is going to make half of you gag and the other half just straight-out barf, but I was happy to see that Duke ended up winning the tournament. My Michigan-fan contempt for Notre Dame overrides my UVA-fan contempt for Duke. And besides, Michigan is tossing around the idea of going varsity in lacrosse and if they do, it's going to be enough of a challenge to recruit against Notre Dame without a trophy in South Bend, let alone with one. Anyway, Duke had by far the better season and was by far the more deserving team. So, uh, yay. Ewwww, but yay.


As for baseball, the ACC tournament could have gone better than it did, but it certainly could have gone worse. UVA finished 2-1 in pool play, but the tiebreaker sent Florida State to the championship game, since the one loss was to FSU. I think given the format it's a tiebreaker that makes sense, but naturally now that we're on the losing end of it, everyone thinks this format stinks and who came up with this shit anyway? Admittedly, it's a weird format. Double-elimination is the usual standard in baseball; a traditional bracket doesn't work well since baseball, more than any other sport, can turn on a roll of the dice or a hot pitcher. Look at San Diego State last year. Not a great team overall, but their one ace gave them a legit shot at knocking off the ACC champion. So most tournaments are double-elimination, but the ACC coaches didn't like it because it burns up everybody's bullpen and leaves them with tired arms for the NCAA regionals the following week.

This isn't a great format either, given that in four years it's turned out the following championship matchups:

2 vs. 8
1 vs. 6
1 vs. 6
5 vs. 7

The bottom half of the pools (5 through 8) have made the championship more than the top half (1 through 4.) That's not really the sign of a good format. Not only that, but the divisions really screw up the seeding. We did end up beating Miami, but if seeded strictly by record, they should have been swapped with Clemson and GT should have had to deal with the Canes - but also been the top seed in their group. Since everyone's got different ideas to fix it, here's mine - it's this simple. Teams would still only have to play four games at the most, and likely enough that would never happen. Plus: major, major advantage for the high seeds. It was totally sweet to win the ACC championship last year as a six seed, but baseball teams play wayyy more games than any other sport against the rest of the conference - it sucks being on the other side of the coin, dominating a 30-game season, and then losing out on the championship because why? losing to FSU for one, but that wouldn't have mattered if Miami hadn't choked against BC.

So that would be a good way to fix things up, and you could even shorten the tournament by a day if you felt like it. Or not. It's flexible.

Anyway, the ACC tournament being over, that means it's Big Show time, and thusly, here is the bracket. It was a foregone conclusion that UVA would host a regional, but Tim Weiser and the rest of the selection committee displayed their astounding ignorance (or outright contempt of UVA) yet again in declaring UVA the 5th seed behind Coastal Carolina. Here's the man hisself, 'splaining hisself:

There is very little difference between the teams among the top 8 national seeds. Each of these teams has achieved a high level of success during the year and making distinctions between them is incredibly difficult. Ultimately, the committee makes secret ballot votes to rank teams based on a variety of factors (e.g., RPI, regular season championship, conference championship, non-conference performance, etc.) to seed these elite teams. Note, however, that the committee does not consider coaches polls or media polls as a factor in their decision making.
OK, RPI is a factor, yes, yes: Coastal is somehow higher despite playing in a one-bid league instead of an eight-bid league. Of course, UVA is higher than 3rd-seeded Florida, but whatever. Regular season championship: well, both Coastal and UVA have this in hand, as does Florida. I'd like to think that the ACC outweighs the Big South in the committee's minds, but apparently not. Conference championship: Coastal has this, but again - Big South. Non-conference performance. Well, Coastal did pretty well, except for one little hiccup. They did schedule better teams than we did for the most part, but we did actually schedule them, after all, and it's hard to get the committee to count our fall scrimmage series.

Assuming for a minute that there's absolutely no regional bias in the committee and they are purely robots assessing the raw data in front of them, the only conclusion is that the committee considers every conference equal for the purposes of winning conference championships (after all, Florida, which is not the SEC champion, is seeded higher than Coastal.) They also appear to weight non-conference schedule - not performance, mind you, and especially not head-to-head results, just schedule - higher than any other factor. Coastal plays an OOC schedule heavy on the tournament hopefuls to make up for the fact that they play in a conference that sucks donkey balls. We do the opposite. Out of 58 games we've played, a majority of them are ACC games, so you'd think this would carry some weight. It does not.

Fortunately, this is nothing like being shipped to bloody damn California. Given the regional we got handed, it's not really a screwjob, just an obnoxious insult. Tomorrow, you get a breakdown of the regional, which includes Friday's opponent VCU, St. John's as the three-seed, and Ole Miss, which totes a trailer-load of story lines into Charlottesville this weekend. You might remember them from last year. If you don't, don't worry about it - they haven't forgotten us.


Let's end on a high note. Would a national championship suffice? Rowing is not the highest-profile sport in existence, but hey, they all count the same when you're adding up NCAA titles. Muchos felicitaciones to the ladies of the rowing team, who brought home UVA's second national title this season, placing their trophy next to the one for soccer in the ever-burgeoning trophy case. This is a team with a small but special corner of appreciation on this blog, as the crew team is the only one at UVA whose roster also includes graduates of my high school alma mater as well. High praise is in order for the lady rowers, and especially GP South Blue Devils Caroline Sweeny and Lauren Shook, both of whom rowed for the Second Varsity 8 at the NCAA championships. Many huzzahs.

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