Pack wasn’t only worthy team snubbed by NCAA | NevadaAppeal.com

Pack wasn’t only worthy team snubbed by NCAA

Sports fodder for a Friday morning… There’s something awfully wrong with a system that leaves a team out of its 64-team regional field which won 41-of-56 games and won its conference’s regular season championship. But that’s what happened to the Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team on Monday. The Wolf Pack played a cupcake schedule. We get it. But they devoured those cupcakes. And, yes, we understand the Wolf Pack’s Ratings Percentage Index (a fancy way of saying strength of schedule) was just 54. But last time I checked 54 fits into a tournament field of 64 and how did Clemson, which was at 55, and Oregon, which was 66, get at-large berths?

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The Wolf Pack, though, wasn’t the only team who got snubbed by the NCAA. North Carolina had an RPI of 24 and even beat Clemson in the ACC tournament and was left out. It also had a better record (34-24 to 32-27) than Clemson. North Florida went 44-15 and had an RPI of 45 and didn’t get in. Southeast Louisiana was 42-17 with an RPI of 51 and was left out. The system is flawed. It might even be corrupt. Just 25 percent of RPI is your winning percentage. The other 75 percent is based on the winning percentage of your opponents and your opponents’ opponents. In other words, it’s better for you to lose to good teams than beat bad teams. But this is yet another example of how the NCAA does absolutely nothing right. Football has a joke of a postseason system and tries to cover it up by giving every team with a pulse a bowl bid. Basketball has fake tournaments to appease those left out of the NCAA tournament. Baseball is the toughest of all by far. In baseball you can win 41 games and win your conference and you don’t even get a parting gift. The NCAA makes it almost impossible to invest any real emotions in or care about college sports.

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What happened this past week to the Wolf Pack should make you appreciate what coach Gary Powers’ teams did even more. The Pack went to four regionals in seven years (1994-2000) under Powers. That is a remarkable achievement, especially coming out of the tough Big West Conference. A lot of Powers’ detractors, though, made a habit of pointing out his last 13 teams (2001-13) didn’t make the regionals, as if getting to baseball’s postseason was as easy as getting a New Orleans Bowl invite. Well, you saw how tough it is to get to baseball’s postseason this year. Powers had quite a few other teams at Nevada who were just as regional worthy as the 2015 Pack but were left out for one NCAA biased reason or another.

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It doesn’t, however, do the Wolf Pack any good to just sit back and complain about the NCAA. The NCAA isn’t going to change its system because a few people in Nevada are upset. The Pack needs to learn from what just happened and beef up its schedule. The Wolf Pack didn’t play any team who finished in the Top 60 in RPI this year. Just six of their opponents were in the top 100. It killed the Pack this year that many of its traditional opponents (San Francisco, UNLV, St. Mary’s, UC Davis, Santa Clara, Sacramento State, San Jose State and Pacific) were simply awful. Stanford even had a down year (an RPI of 112). But it also didn’t make any sense for the Pack to play patsies such as Abilene Christian and Cincinnati. Yes, those teams fatten your record and stats but they also keep you out of the regionals. They are like pizza, ice cream and beer. They taste good and make you feel great for about 15 minutes. But in the long run you just get fat and bloated.

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If the Wolf Pack wants to strengthen its RPI it has to find a way to start scheduling Pac-12 teams on a regular basis. Over the past three seasons combined the Pack has played just two Pac-12 teams (Stanford this year and Utah in 2014). A game or two against former Pack assistant coach John Savage’s UCLA Bruins (No. 2 RPI) this year might have been enough to get the Pack to the regionals. Why has the Pack played just one game against Cal since 2005 and just one game against Stanford since 2008? The Pack also needs to start playing its former Big West rivals Fullerton, Long Beach and UC Santa Barbara on a regular basis. If the Pack want to return to the national picture they have to challenge themselves. This year was fun and a good start but in the end it was just empty calories. It was basically 1992 (43-11 record against a cupcake schedule and no regional bid) all over again. The 1992 season, though, revitalized Pack baseball. The 2015 season has the potential to do the same.

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How good will the Pack baseball team be in 2016? The loss of seniors Austin Byler, Kewby Meyer, Jordan Devencenzi and Kyle Hunt will leave a big hole in the offense. And starting pitcher Jason Deitrich will also be gone. The Pack might also lose juniors Ryan Howell, Adam Whitt, Christian Stolo, Bryce Greager, Cam Rowland and Zack Wilkins to the draft. But if all those juniors return to join returning freshmen and sophomores Cal Stevenson, JoJo Romero, Trenton Brooks, Grant Fennel and Evan McMahan, this team is going to once again compete for a Mountain West title.

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It’s difficult to imagine how the Cleveland Cavaliers, even with the best player on the planet, can beat the Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series. If the Warriors get hot they might win in four or five games. The Cavs just have no depth. The better story, though, would be a Cavaliers’ title. Bringing a title to Cleveland is no small task (the Bay area wins something seemingly every other year). And if LeBron James can win a championship with a hobbled Kyrie Irving and castoffs like Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov as well as Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellevedova, well, it might be one of the greatest accomplishments in NBA history.

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Colin Kaepernick is at it again. Kaepernick posted a photo on social media this week of the flooding in Houston and wrote “I warned you the #7stormsComing.” Even Kaepernick admitted it was an insensitive post. All Kaepernick does on social media is embarrass himself and offend people. Some athletes are good on Twitter. Some actually have something to say that’s interesting and informative. Kaepernick is not one of those people. I get it Kaepernick is the future of NFL quarterbacks and an example of everything that’s cool and hip while dinosaurs like Peyton Manning probably still write letters to people, read actual newspapers and make calls on landlines in their home. Well, the next time Kaepernick turns on a computer with an urge to tell the world something brilliant on social media, he needs to ask himself the following four-word question: What would Peyton do? The answer to that question will always be: turn off the computer.