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Can UCF Softball Host an NCAA Regional?

Knights have the resume to host — Will the committee agree?

UCF Softball Complex
Will this Field of Dreams host an NCAA Regional in 2022?
Photo: Jeff Sharon

The UCF Knights are trying to be the first non-P5 team to host an NCAA Softball Regional since 2016. The Knights’ RPI is 16 as of Monday, with 13 wins against the RPI top-50 and 5 of those against the top 26 teams.

Why is that important?

Of the 10 mid-majors that were nationally seeded in the top-16 and hosted since 2008, all of them had 10 or more wins over the top-50, with the exception of the 2015 James Madison team who had 9.

The biggest argument always seems to be conference-related, but as we can see from comparing the Knights’ resume to other mid-major hosts, UCF checks all the boxes.

Here is how UCF’s resume stacks up against teams that have hosted since 2008 and been a national top-16 seed:

NCAA Softball Tournament Mid-Major Hosts since 2008

Year Team Rec vs. RPI Top-25 Rec vs. RPI Top-50 Strength of Schedule Non-Conference SOS Conference RPI Seed
Year Team Rec vs. RPI Top-25 Rec vs. RPI Top-50 Strength of Schedule Non-Conference SOS Conference RPI Seed
2022 UCF 4-7 13-11 46 16 6 ?
2008 Fresno St. 4-3 12-7 63 74 8 16
2008 Houston 5-5 15-8 32 22 6 8
2009 DePaul 4-6 11-8 30 20 6 15
2012 Louisiana 4-0 14-1 69 44 7 14
2013 South Alabama 5-3 10-5 56 40 6 13
2014 Louisiana 9-5 11-8 13 4 4 6
2015 Louisiana 5-5 13-7 12 1 5 13
2016 Louisiana 4-7 14-7 25 5 6 14
2015 James Madison 5-5 9-6 30 38 7 15
2016 James Madison 5-3 12-5 36 39 8 7

2016 James Madison holds the record for being the host from the lowest-RPI conference, as the CAA was ranked 8th in 2016.

Of course, there are a few notable examples of mid-major schools who missed out on hosting for extenuating circumstances, mainly travel:

Notable Mid-Major Teams That Should Have Hosted

Year Team Rec vs. RPI Top-25 Rec vs. RPI Top-50 Strength of Schedule Non-Conference SOS Conference RPI Seed
Year Team Rec vs. RPI Top-25 Rec vs. RPI Top-50 Strength of Schedule Non-Conference SOS Conference RPI Seed
2008 Long Beach State 4-4 11-8 50 5 10 14
2010 Hawai'i 3-10 12-12 10 3 9 16
2015 UCF 2-2 5-3 51 33 9 --

In 2008, Long Beach State was a national seed coming from the Big West conference, which was ranked 10th – the lowest for a national seed. But Long Beach State did not host that year — They were sent to Iowa City where they ended up losing to Iowa.

In 2010 Hawaii, which was nationally seeded 16th, came from the 9th-strongest conference that year, but did not host as they played in the Stanford Regional.

We added 2015 UCF in here because, as you’ll see, travel distance is a factor in how the committee has to arrange the tournament.

Every other mid-major team to earn a national seed and host came from at least a top-8 ranked conference, per the RPI.

In addition, since the RPI was instituted in 2008, 9 teams have finished in the RPI top 16 and not hosted:

  • 2021: Duke 12, Oregon 15
  • 2019: James Madison 13
  • 2018: Baylor 14
  • 2017: Minnesota 12, James Madison 13
  • 2016: Baylor 13
  • 2015: Hofstra 13, UCF 15

UCF’s RPI is 16.

So what do we watch for?

This will all likely come down to UCF and a team they’re soon to replace in the Big 12, Texas.

On paper, UCF has a lot of advantages over Texas. The Knights have one fewer win against the RPI Top 25, but they have a better winning percentage in those games.

Texas also has one of the best wins of the season against #1 Oklahoma, but UCF has a win over #2 Virginia Tech.

Against the RPI teams ranked 26-50, UCF’s 10-4 record is much better than the Longhorns’ 4-2-1 mark. Both teams have a non-conference strength of schedule in the top 15.

And, if it comes down to it, UCF also has a head-to-head win against Texas in Clearwater back in February.

The one big advantage Texas has is that it can bus multiple teams to its regional site, where UCF cannot, due to the 400-mile radius that the NCAA forces the committee use in order to save on flight costs.

That arbitrary rule may be the thing that prevents UCF from hosting its first-ever NCAA Regional.

We won’t know for sure until 7 p.m. ET Sunday, when the NCAA Softball Selection Show airs on