One of the biggest gripes you hear with the NCAA Tournament is that the selection committee often seems to emphasize the word “regional” in the term “super regional,” and as a result, you typically get a lot of super regional matchups that are either retreads from recent postseasons or rematches of games that happened during the regular season.
For example, the Florida trio of Florida, Florida State, and Miami always seem to have to go through each other to get to Omaha. The same can be said of the traditional powers on the west coast, and in Texas, where even the best of super regional matchups, such as the thrillers we’ve seen of late between TCU and Texas A&M, can get a bit tiresome.
But now, that gripe will be taken off the table, as an announcement back in October brought the news that the NCAA would make an immediate change and begin seeding teams 1-16 in the postseason rather than just 1-8, as they have always done. As we wrote when the news first broke, this is fantastic news for the sport.
For one, there’s little risk involved with the decision, at least on its face. Softball has been using this seeding method with success, so the proof of concept is in place.
It also fixes an equity issue caused by the old system. If a team has earned the right to be ranked as the top overall team going into the postseason, their regional should be paired off with the host team that would be ranked 16th, not the team that would be ranked 9th just because they happened to be conveniently located a couple of hours away from that hypothetical 9th-ranked team.
Most importantly, this just feels like the next step in college baseball’s growth. For a lot of different reasons, the sport has never been healthier, and it was just time to move past a point where super regional pairings were largely based on geography. There are enough quality facilities in the sport, enough programs truly invested in baseball, and enough interest in places that perhaps weren’t as interested in college baseball a decade or so ago that it was time for the postseason to be filled with fair, diverse matchups based on results during the regular season and not how easily one team could bus to get to their opponent’s stadium.
And starting this season, that’s exactly what we’ll have.