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Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017 NCAA Softball Tournament Geospatial Map

We're back once again with our annual geospatial map of where the 64 teams have been sent for regional play in the first weekend. This map allows you to see the extent to which the NCAA has kept regionals compact to save on travel costs, as opposed to sending teams across the country. For the last couple of years, I have used the Batch Geo website, which allows one to import an Excel list of schools (with addresses) and then generates a color-coded map, grouping schools by regional.

There are 16 regional sites, each containing four schools, which would probably create too much clutter for most readers' tastes, so I have broken the regionals up into three graphs, one with six regionals and the other two with five each. The regional hosts are identified in a black horizontal bar at the bottom of each graph.

"Balloons" of the same color within the same graph represent schools playing in the same regional. You can "hover" the cursor over a given balloon and the school's name will appear. There are additional tools on the graphs, allowing you to manipulate them in various ways.

View 2017 NCAA Softball Regions 1 in a full screen map

View 2017 NCAA Softball Regions 2 in a full screen map

View 2017 NCAA Softball Regions 3 in a full screen map

Getting to the substance of the NCAA committee's decisions, the biggest shocker of the evening is that Minnesota, ranked No. 2/3 in the final national polls and sporting a 54-3 record, did not receive one of the 16 national seeds. As a result, the Gophers will have to travel to 16-seed Alabama for regional play (see Map 1 above). As noted on ESPN's Tournament Selection Show, Minnesota was ranked No. 12 in the RPI, but had only two wins all year over teams ranked in the Top 25 (but not the Top 10) when they faced the Gophers, LSU and Cal. Minnesota did not play traditional B1G power Michigan (No. 17 in both polls) this season, as not everybody can play each other in a 14-team league; also, the Wolverines bowed out of the conference tourney before they could face Minnesota. Playing -- and beating -- Michigan might have gotten Minnesota a national seed, but we'll never know.

Also of note, the SEC got all 13 of its softball-playing schools into the tournament. According to the SEC website:

The SEC earned eight national seeds, as SEC regular season champion Florida (50-6) earned the national No. 1 seed for the third straight year. Auburn (46-10) earned the No. 7 seed, while Tennessee (44-10) was awarded the No. 8 seed. Texas A&M (42-10) is the No. 9 seed, and SEC Tournament Champion Ole Miss (40-18) is the No. 12 national seed. LSU (41-18) is the No. 13 seed, and Kentucky (36-17) was tabbed the No. 14 seed. Alabama (42-16) rounds out the list as the No. 16 seed.

Arizona seemed to stumble a little bit down the stretch, going a combined 6-6 in series vs. Utah, Oregon, ASU, and UCLA (including two shutout losses to the Bruins). However, that didn't stop U of A from getting the No. 2 national seed. 

Rounding out the top six national seeds are (in order) Oregon, Florida State, UCLA, and Washington, giving the Pac 12 four of the six highest seeds. In addition, eight of the Pac 12's nine softball-playing schools made the NCAA field (Stanford was left out).