North Carolina-Wilmington, who has given off quite a Stony Brook vibe in the three games they’ve played in the LSU Regional this weekend, just finished beating Tulane by an 8-2 score. We should be having a late-night rematch between LSU and UNCW per the original regional schedule, despite it having been pushed back three hours for a rain delay due to showers this afternoon.
But the NCAA rule indicates that no game in a regional can start after 11:00 local time. LSU and UNCW could have gotten their game started by 10:15. The game likely wouldn’t have been over until 1 AM, just like last night’s 2-0 LSU victory behind a masterpiece performance from Alex Lange did, but it would have been legal.
Instead, the NCAA has pushed the game back until noon tomorrow, sending thousands of LSU fans home in disgust.
And LSU athletic director Joe Alleva is red hot about it.
“Regretfully, the game we were supposed to play tonight against UNC Wilmington has been postponed to tomorrow at 12 p.m. Now, you’re going to ask me why. The NCAA made a decision. They didn’t give me a reason. I don’t have a reason, okay. There is a guideline that says that you are not allowed to start a game after 11 p.m. We could have easily started this game at 10:15 p.m. Frankly, it’s a ridiculous decision. It hurts from the standpoint that when you’re in the winner’s bracket, you have a competitive advantage. That competitive advantage has been negated by this decision. It’s sad for our team, and it’s even worse for our fans. I feel so terribly bad for our 10,000 fans that all showed up here tonight and now have to go home. A terrible decision by the NCAA. Period. That’s all I have to say, and if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them for you.”
Pushing the game back to noon means many of the ticket-holders who were set to attend tonight’s game won’t be able to; they’ll be at work.
LSU’s home-field advantage is lessened as a result. Since UNCW has to win twice, the “if-necessary” game would likely be played in front of a packed crowd, Monday night, but the noon game might be in front of a half-full stadium.
Also, UNCW will have a full night’s rest that they were not supposed to have based on the schedule. What’s more, UNCW’s ace reliever Jordan Ramsey, who threw 43 pitches on Saturday, might be available for relief duty on Monday when he would not have been tonight.
The delay helps UNCW. It shouldn’t be decisive; the Seahawks still have to win twice. But LSU was due the homefield and competitive advantage from hosting the regional and winning their first two games, and the NCAA has stepped in to deny that in what looks like a departure from the rules.
It’s a suspicious decision and one Alleva is right to protest.