By the time these projections go up, the host sites will have been announced. Maybe one of the sites could be a surprise, but from the looks of it, these 16 are the ones who’ll be hosting some postseason baseball starting Friday.
What I said Tuesday was true and then some. These projections are going to look a lot different than those just less than a week ago. With a number of upsets in the conference tourneys, and a couple of bubble teams playing well enough to push themselves in and others out, there are a lot of new teams in the field this holiday weekend.
Mississippi put themselves in position to host with their showing in the SEC tournament. They lost twice to Vanderbilt on Saturday, but the two wins they got on Wednesday and Thursday were what they needed to put themselves on the #1 line. Thanks to in-state rival Mississippi State going 0-2, Arizona going 1-2 at Arizona State, and Wichita State falling short in the Missouri Valley championship, the Rebels have an edge. The Shockers, Rebels, Missouri, and Louisiana-Lafayette are in the running for the last few host spots, and it could end up that Wichita State could take one of those spots, but at this point, it doesn’t look like the Rebels would budge.
Speaking of the Missouri Valley championship, Creighton took the title, and that makes the Bluejays deserving of a #2 seed. They finished a game behind Wichita State in the regular-season, but got the last laugh in the MVC tournament. The Bluejays won the winner-take-all title game 10-9 in 12 innings, to seal their return to the field after missing out in 2006. And they’re going to be one of the hottest teams in the field, having won 25 of their last 28 games after their victory last night.
Rutgers moves up to a #2 seed after winning the Big East tournament. The Scarlet Knights were in the loser’s bracket after losing to Louisville on Wednesday, but won four in a row, including a 7-6 victory over Connecticut in the title game, to take their first Big East championship since 2003. They’re another team on a roll, having won 16 of their last 19. They’re on the fringe between a #2 and a #3, so it could very well go either way on Monday.
In terms of the teams who fell in seeding but not out of the field, the notable one is College of Charleston. The Cougars went 0-2 in the SoCon tourney after dropping their final conference series. That not only drops them off of the #2 line, but it also puts them precariously close to the bubble. They may sweat a little, or a lot, on Monday, but in the end, they should still get in. They’ve got a good resume to not get edged out by one of the lower-tier bubble teams. But, if Gonzaga wins today, they might sweat a little more.
Thanks to Wofford, Jacksonville, and New Orleans, three bubble teams won’t be happy on Monday.
Also thanks to Wake Forest, Oklahoma, and Baylor all doing well in their conference tournaments, three more spots are gone. And, you can’t forget about Oregon State either, who took the first two from UCLA to put themselves back in. Finishing off the sweep today would solidify their spot, and it may very well knock the Bruins out.
If Gonzaga wins the West Coast title today, then that will take one more spot away from a bubble team. But, if the Bulldogs lose, then they’re likely out of the running for an at-large bid.
Alabama went 0-2 in the SEC tournament to eliminate themselves from contention for a bid. Tennessee had a huge upset of Vanderbilt on the first day in Hoover, but dropped their next two, and it’s likely the Vols are done as well. And with Florida going 0-2 as well and dropping below .500 overall, that means the SEC will likely end up with only five teams in the field.
With all of the movement, that hurts the likes of Minnesota, Cal, Cal Poly, and Washington State. Things could change even more if Minnesota were to come back from the loser’s bracket to win the Big Ten title, but that’d just mean a switch-out between Ohio State and UM. Leaving the Gophers out might have seemed a little harsh a few weeks ago, but now it’d be understandable. They went 2-2 in each of their last three conference series to finish third behind Michigan and Penn State, and have seen their RPI drop into the mid 50s. If they can beat Ohio State twice today, then all of these points are rendered meaningless. But if they don’t, then they might be a 40-win team sitting home for the summer.
Cal Poly wrapped up fourth in the Big West with a win over UC Santa Barbara yesterday, but it looks like the Mustangs will get edged out of the field for the second time in three years. Even a sweep today probably won’t be enough. Their RPI is still a little low (64 entering today), and there still aren’t enough impressive wins on their resume. If not for all of the movement, it’d be a different story. Poly might be deserving of a bid, but deserving doesn’t always mean much in the end.
Cal is in the same boat as Poly is. They could finish as high as for third in the Pac-10 if they beat Washington and UCLA loses today, but too many elements are working against the Bears, who will likely end up getting snubbed for the second time in three years as well. They’ve finished with a flourish, winning three of their last four series entering this weekend, but once again, upsets elsewhere means bad news for David Esquer’s club. Oh, what they would probably give to have pulled out a couple of the close games they had early in Pac-10 play, where all five of the losses during a 4-5 start were by one or two runs.
Washington State might’ve gotten in if everything had gone as it should have in the conference tournaments, but because that wasn’t the case, the Cougars are done. It was a valiant late-season fight by the Cougars to get themselves near the bubble, and if anything, should give them momentum for next season and the future.
It might be too little, too late for Memphis. Had the Tigers knocked Rice off twice yesterday, they might have had hope for a bid, even without winning the automatic. But they could only do it once, and were eliminated from the C-USA tourney with a 3-2 record. After struggling down the stretch, even a semifinal run in the conference tournament likely won’t change any minds. Could they get in ahead of College of Charleston, Western Carolina, or St. John’s? It’s doubtful, but the committee’s been known to pull a surprise or two. But at this point, you’d have to think that even with the conference tournament showings, those three are more deserving than Memphis.
The wildcard for bubble teams could be Oklahoma. The Sooners faltered mightily down the stretch, but rescued their season with a series win on the final weekend, then went 2-1 in the Big 12 tournament, falling short of the title game by virtue of a loss to Baylor. The conference record is downright ugly (11-16), and the conference finish (7th) isn’t pretty either, but the RPI is at 27. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them get left out, and it’d be perfectly understandable if the Sooners did stay home. But if they do get in, it’d be reasonable for someone like Minnesota (if they get left out), Cal, or even Memphis to have an argument about being more deserving.
Last Five In: College of Charleston, Oregon State, St. John’s, Oklahoma, Western Carolina
Last Five Out: Minnesota, Cal, Memphis, Cal Poly, Gonzaga
1. Rice (1) (C-USA auto)
4. Prairie View (SWAC auto)
2. Rutgers (Big East auto)
Columbia, MO Regional
4. Illinois-Chicago (Horizon auto)
2. Wichita State
3. Ohio State (Big Ten auto)
Myrtle Beach, SC Regional
1. Coastal Carolina (8) (Big South auto)
4. Wofford (Southern auto)
3. Charlotte (Atlantic 10 auto)
4. Virginia Commonwealth (CAA auto)
2. East Carolina
3. St. John’s
Chapel Hill Regional
1. North Carolina (4) (ACC auto)
4. Brown (Ivy auto)
2. Creighton (Missouri Valley auto)
4. New Orleans (Sun Belt auto)
3. Oklahoma State
1. Florida State
4. Bethune-Cookman (MEAC auto)
3. Western Carolina
4. Jacksonville (Atlantic Sun auto)
2. UC Irvine
1. Vanderbilt (2) (SEC auto)
4. Austin Peay (Ohio Valley auto)
2. Southern Miss
3. Wake Forest
College Station Regional
1. Texas A&M (Big 12 auto)
4. Sam Houston State (Southland auto)
3. Oral Roberts (Mid-Continent auto)
San Diego Regional
1. San Diego (7) (West Coast auto)
4. Fresno State (WAC auto)
2. UC Riverside (Big West auto)
Columbia, SC Regional
1. South Carolina
4. Lemoyne (Metro Atlantic auto)
2. NC State
3. College of Charleston
1. Texas (3)
4. Albany (America East auto)
2. TCU (Mountain West auto)
4. Kent State (Mid-American auto)
2. Mississippi State
3. Georgia Tech
1. Arizona State (6) (Pac-10 auto)
4. Monmouth (Northeast auto)
Long Beach Regional
1. Long Beach State
4. Lafayette (Patriot auto)
3. Oregon State