Losing their balance
To state the obvious, it’s no easy task the NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Committee has in selecting the 81 schools to participate in the three NCAA regionals and then seed the teams to balance the strength of fields in each region. But … and didn’t you know there was a BUT coming … when committee chair Mike Hermann, the new athletic director at Towson, rattled off the programs and where they were playing during yesterday's announcement call (click here for the complete list), you couldn’t help but wonder just how well the committee did its job this year.
Indeed, while there seemed to be little hesitation in moving teams from the natural home region, the committee seems to forget to drop off any programs between the coasts. UCLA, the No. 5 ranked team in the country in the Golf World College Coaches’ poll, and UNLV (No. 7) moved East as if trading spaces with Florida (No. 3) and Georgia Tech (No. 4), who will travel to the West and Tucson. No. 10 East Tennessee State, a natural fit in the Central Regional, was actually shipped to Tucson and the West Regional. Bottom line: Of the top 10 schools, four are in the East Regional, four in the West and only two are in the Central when each of the events takes place May 18-20.
Expand the breakdown to Golf World’s top 25, and the East Regional clearly remained the strongest, despite several top programs in the area being moved. Eleven of the top 25 are in the East Regional while only seven are in the Central or the West.
Granted, trying to boost the Central Regional field was made more difficult this year for Hermann and his colleagues by the fact that the Big 12 Conference had several solid but not spectacular teams in 2005-06 and the Big Ten faired even worse, having no team ranked in the top 25 in the last Golf World poll. Without these power conferences feeding schools into this regional, tinkering with the field was a necessary evil. Still, it just seems odd that except for Georgia Tech and No. 12 Duke, no top 15 team was moved into the Central.