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2015 Tournament Primer


How much does previous tournament success matter? Since 2002, only one team has won the CAN softball tournament without finishing in the top sixteen the previous season: James Madison won the 2008 tournament after finishing tied for 17th the previous year. This trend has continued into pool play: last year’s champion, Florida, was a semi-finalist in 2013. So your 2015 champion will very likely come from this group, the final sixteen teams standing in 2014: Florida, Catholic, James Madison, Tufts, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest, George Washington, Ohio, Georgia, Villanova, Maryland, North Carolina, Richmond, and Rutgers.
 
A few notes from the first three seasons of pool play: An impressive 51 of the 72 or so teams advanced to single elimination in at least one of the tournaments; California, Arizona State, and Northwestern were first-timers last season. 40 teams have advanced at least twice, but only 17 teams have advanced all three years: Xavier, Florida, Texas A&M, Central Florida, Ohio, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Georgia, James Madison, Villanova, Tufts, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, Wake Forest, American, and Pittsburgh. And of those 17, only 5 made their way to the round of 16 in each of the three tournaments: Georgia, Virginia Tech, James Madison, Maryland, and Wake Forest.

Best finish for a defending champion? James Madison won the 2009 title for the only recognized back-to-back championships in the last eleven years. Last year’s defending champ, Virginia Tech, fell to James Madison in the quarterfinals to finish tied for fifth.

Pittsburgh and Georgia are now on the clock to break one of the most dubious streaks in CAN Tournament history: No team that finished the regular season undefeated has ever won the tournament. Virginia Tech in 2003 and Maryland in ’08 came the closest, with both teams losing in the championship game to James Madison. Richmond, undefeated in 2013, failed to make it out of pool play to the second weekend. The others: Maryland (2005), tied for seventh; Indiana (2006), tied for ninth; American (2007), tied for seventh; Pittsburgh (2007), tied for fifth; Villanova (2008), tied for ninth; Villanova (2009), tied for seventh; and James Madison (2011), tied for fifth.

Pittsburgh’s on the double clock, looking to break CAN’s other most dubious streak: No #1 seed has ever won the tournament. Last year’s #1 seed, American, lost to Maryland in pool play, then lost in the elimination round of 32 to Wake Forest. Only four #1 seeds in the past twelve years have even made it to the championship game: Ohio in 2012, Maryland in 2008, and Virginia Tech’s back-to-back heartbreak in 2002 and 2003.

So what about regular season championships? Florida finished tied for first with Ohio in their division in the 2014 regular season, but Ohio State rode the tiebreaker to the #1 seed line. Virginia Tech won the 2013 tournament as a division winner, replicating Georgia’s feat from the year before and the Hokies’ own ‘double win’ in 2011. Prior to that, however, it had been seven seasons since Maryland pulled off the feat. Maybe the new pool play format is more conducive to combining regular season and post-season success?

Regular season runner-ups? The highest-seeded non-division winner has won the tournament only once in the last thirteen years: #7 Maryland in 2007.

Worst regular season record among tournament champions? 2010’s Texas A&M squad rode a 7-7 regular season and the #34 seed all the way to championship glory. Last year’s champion, Florida, brought an 8-6 regular season record to the tournament, good for the #33 seed.

Only one school has finished in the top sixteen in each of the last thirteen tournaments: Maryland. Four different schools have survived ‘til the tournament’s now-third day in each of the last twelve years: James Madison, Virginia Tech, and Villanova join UMd in this elite club.

More bad news for Georgia, leading the league at nearly 21 runs scored per game: clubbing your way to gaudy offensive numbers in the regular season is no guarantee for tournament success: no team that led the league in scoring has ever won the tournament. In fact, of the five top offenses of the last thirteen years, only the 2008 Maryland team made it as far as the championship. The others: Arizona State (2003), tied for 25th; Villanova (2008), tied for 9th; and Wake Forest (2008), tied for 17th.

More bad news for Pittsburgh, after leading the league with a stingy 5.7 runs allowed per game: flashing gold glove caliber leather in the regular season may not help you, either; only one team, the 2007 Maryland squad, has led the league in runs allowed and then went on to win the tournament. The top five defenses of the last thirteen years, with their tournament finish: Maryland (2006), tied for 9th; Maryland (2007), 1st place; Maryland (2005), tied for 7th; James Madison (2010), 2nd; and Pittsburgh (2007), tied for 5th.

The 2014 Florida team became the first team to win the tournament after losing on the first weekend. Florida lost a pool play game to Tufts before reeling off six(!!) wins on Championship Saturday to take home the gold. The Tufts-Florida pod made a strong case for the best pod in the first three years of the pool play format, as both the Jumbos and Gators advanced to the Final Four. Catholic knocked off Tufts to prevent a championship game rematch from pool play.

One more jinxie for Pitt: No team that finished the season ranked #1 in RPI has ever won the tournament. Last year’s Catholic club joined the 2008 Maryland Terps as #1 RPI teams that lost in the championship game.

Catholic’s run to the championship game in 2013 was easily the best ever showing for a first year team. This year’s tournament is the first in a long while to feature no new teams.

6/Aug/15, 6:10 am Link to this post Send Email to CAN Archives   Send PM to CAN Archives
 
NINJA Terp Profile
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Re: 2015 Tournament Primer


God, I !@#$ love this post every year. Great job.
6/Aug/15, 7:15 am Link to this post Send Email to NINJA Terp   Send PM to NINJA Terp
 
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Re: 2015 Tournament Primer


quote:

NINJA Terp wrote:

God, I !@#$ love this post every year. Great job.



I do it for you, Eddie!

(Now chain yourself back to the desk and spit out the rest of your 20,000 simulations...)
6/Aug/15, 7:38 am Link to this post Send Email to CAN Archives   Send PM to CAN Archives
 
DCKnights Profile
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Re: 2015 Tournament Primer


What a great way to start off my Thursday before the tourney, enjoyed the post. Great work!
6/Aug/15, 7:52 am Link to this post Send Email to DCKnights   Send PM to DCKnights
 
AUEaglesBH Profile
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Re: 2015 Tournament Primer


quote:

CAN Archives wrote:



Pittsburgh and Georgia are now on the clock to break one of the most dubious streaks in CAN Tournament history: No team that finished the regular season undefeated has ever won the tournament.




Guess we can finally retire this footnote. Congrats to Georgia on the perfect season!
15/Aug/15, 7:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to AUEaglesBH   Send PM to AUEaglesBH
 


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