Bulls miss cut for NCAA softball regionals
The NCAA bubble has not been good to USF athletics this spring.
Just as women's basketball did two months ago, USF's softball team put itself in contention for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, but just as with basketball, the Bulls missed the cut as the NCAA announced its 64 teams for postseason play Sunday night. It's just the second time in the past seven seasons that USF isn't playing in an NCAA regional.
The Bulls (34-22) reached the semifinals of the Big East tournament, but the league had only three teams make the NCAA cut -- the SEC, by comparison, got nine of its 12 teams in the field, including Arkansas, which went 27-27 and finished 10-16 in conference play.
USF's record against RPI top 50 teams -- just 3-13 -- likely hurt the Bulls. Arkansas, for instance, was 10-17 against the top 50.
The Bulls were the second-highest RPI team left out of the NCAA field according to WarrenNolan.com's rankings -- East Carolina (RPI 39) missed the cut, again with an unimpressive 3-6 record against the top 50.
Four at-large teams selected had RPIs lower than USF, all with better records against the top 50 -- Long Beach State (46, 5-13), Oklahoma State (47, 8-11), San Diego State (53, 9-12) and Purdue (66, 8-9). Purdue had some quality wins -- four in the top 20, including a win at UCLA (RPI 3).
If there's an inclusion USF can take exception to, it might be Long Beach State, whose strength of schedule was 18 spots lower than USF's. LBSU knocked off UCLA for a quality win, but went 1-9 against top 20 teams, and its next best wins came against Cal-Fullerton (RPI 37), though they did finish strong by winning 10 of 12 games ...