After thinking about this for awhile, I feel compelled to express my opinion of what I call a second straight snub the Minot State baseball received again this year for not receiving a berth in the NCAA Division Two Regional Tournament.
The Beavers capped off another banner season this spring with a runnerup finish at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference postseason tournament. Entering tournament play as the number four seed, the Beavers opened the tournament with an impressive 12-4 win over Wayne State in the opening round. They fell to eventual champion Augustana in the second round, dropping them into the loser’s bracket. Facing elimination in three straight games, the Beavers earned a championship berth with wins over Northern State, Winona State and St. Cloud State.They lost to Augustana in the title game 13-8, battling back from a 9-0 deficit, but falling short in the end.
My beef in all this is unless you win the conference tournament championship, what you do in the tournament, doesn’t have any bearing on the selection process, especially for teams not ranked in the final regional ranking. Case in point…Minnesota State was ranked third in the final ranking and finished 1-2 in the tournament and only dropped one spot in the rankings. St. Cloud State, who Minot State beat in the tournament, moved up two spots to third and Arkansas-Monticello, the fourth seed in the final ranking, went 2-2 in their conference tournament and dropped only one spot.
I am fully aware that it looked like Minot State would have to win the conference tournament to earn a berth, but I really feel Minot State was snubbed by the committee in the regional rankings during the regular season because of a lack of respect. This program has been one of the top in the nation the last two years. Last year, they won the NSIC regular season championship and finished third in the conference tournament.Their two year record is an impressive 70-34. And this comes from a program that struggled mightily in their first few years in NCAA Division Two.
I have no problem with the three teams from the NSIC that did make the regional. Augustana was the number one team in the NSIC all season long and proved it with the conference tournament title and are the defending national champions. Both Minnesota State and St. Cloud State had impressive seasons, but Minot State also was right there with both those teams all year long. In fact, going into the final weekend of the regular season, the top four teams in the standings were separated by 4 or less games.
I will admit that I am not all that familiar with the other two conferences in the Central Region…The MIAA and GAC, but, and this could be a biased comment, the NSIC arguably is one of the top conferences in the nation.
One argument thrown my way is Minot State ran into the numbers game, because they wouldn’t take four teams from the same conference. That doesn’t hold water.On the softball end, four teams from the NSIC made the regional tournament this year.
Again this is just my opinion. Take it as you like. I just hope that Coach Scott Eul’s program starts getting the respect they deserve on the national level down the road. And good luck to Augustana, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State in the region tournament. Let keep the title in the NSIC.