The NCAA Softball tournament kicks off on Thursday. Like the NCAA basketball tournament, their are 64 teams involved. Instead of the thrilling single elimination chaos of March Madness, the top 16 teams host double-elimination, round-robin regionals.
The last time that the softball rankings were updated the University of Minnesota was ranked 3rd in the nation with a 51-3 record. Since then they’ve gone 3-0, won the B1G tournament and finished the season with the NCAA’s best record, 54-3. Somehow, Minnesota will start the NCAA tournament on the road, unranked, in the regional hosted by 16-seed Alabama.
That’s really messed up! Even by NCAA standards. An article in the Pioneer Press summarized the understandable confusion surrounding the Golden Gophers’ snub, including this tweet from espnW’s Graham Hays.
So, this decision was totally an indictment of the Minnesota weather, right? That has to be it. The NCAA has a certain number of games to get in and they can’t deal with a freak Minneapolis snow storm in May. Still, Minnesota played nearly 60 games this season. Some of them must have been at home. It is completely unfair to punish them for being from Minnesota, but it’s also the least nefarious reason the NCAA could have for snubbing the team with the best record in the nation.
UPDATE: Minnesota was ranked #1 in the final coaches poll. The NCAA’s excuse for this mess? Strength of schedule.