I’m not much into the conspiracy theories when it comes to college athletics, but you have to wonder how NDSU could get the No. 1-ranked team in the country two years in a row in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Keep in mind this is a Bison softball program that won a regional two years ago and plays one of the toughest schedules of any mid-major in the country.
The BisonÂ will playÂ Arizona State in Friday’s Tempe Regional. Last year it was Washington. When the announcement hit the big screen at Buffalo Wild Wings on Sunday night, NDSU head coach Darren Mueller let out a yell, and I’m saying it was a sarcastic reaction.
At 114 in the latest RPI, NDSU has a better power rating than seven other teams in the tournament: Iona (131), Liberty (134), Albany (141), Lehigh (158), Sacred Heart (180),Â Bethune-Cookman (186) and Jackson State (233). Keep in mind the tournament isÂ seeded 1-16, not 1-64, so the rest of the field after the top 16 is filled with criteria like geography.Â Six of the schools below NDSU in theÂ RPI are in the East and one is in the South, but it’s not like NDSU is a bus trip to Tempe.Â
And if strength of schedule doesn’t matter, how do you explain Western Michigan and its 25-28 record getting a No. 10 seed in Michigan State in its opening game?
It just doesn’t seem to add up.