What The Heck Happened To Akron's Seeding In The NCAA Tournament?

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Ranked No. 1 in the major polls and No. 2 in RPI, the Zips soccer team received a 5-seed in the national championship bracket.

Bear in mind, I don't follow the selection process for the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament, really, that much. But I understand that when a team is ranked No. 1 overall in the polls — and it's not really close — that they're the best team in the country. Maybe there's bias involved. Maybe they recognize Caleb Porter's worth in that he's going to coach in the MLS next year. Maybe they rely on RPI as a more reliable indicator of team strength, but Akron's No. 2 in that.

Akron got a 5-seed in the national tournament. (PDF bracket)

I'm ... a little speechless. No, it's not a travesty (top five is still really good) but why did they drop three spots, at best, below their expected mark? The latest published coaches poll was from November 6 and Akron beat Bowling Green and Northern Illinois by a combined 4-0. Nothing in that finish indicates that they should've stumbled that much.

For kicks I'll look at the top 16 seeds compared to their RPI:

Seed Team RPI +/-
1 Notre Dame 1 0
2 Maryland 3 +1
3 Georgetown 4 +1
4 UConn 7 +3
5 Akron 2 -3
6 UCLA 5 -1
7 Marquette 8 -1
8 Saint Louis 6 +2
9 North Carolina 9 0
10 Louisville 13 +3
11 Tulsa 12 +1
12 Creighton 11 -1
13 New Mexico 10 -3
14 VCU 14 0
15 Wake Forest 18 +3
16 Indiana 16 0

The odd RPI top 16 team out was #15 Virginia, who had a 9-6-4 record and hosts a first round game to play New Mexico.

So on the whole, not many injustices. And more pressing, there's nothing they can do about it now. They'll play the winner of Thursday night's Michigan-Niagara game next Sunday in Akron. They already beat UM once this year 1-0 so that's a positive omen Niagara only has one loss on the year out of the MAAC but was ranked 39th in RPI and played just one game against a tournament team, beating Syracuse.

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