Postseason Analysis: UCSB’s Curious Case


What is the committee to do with a rowdy bunch of Gauchos?

UC Santa Barbara is enjoying a historic season. Andrew Checketts’ squad is 30-5 entering the week, winners of their last dozen games. They have everything the committee is looking for. They are 8-1 in their conference and have a top ten RPI (#7 on April 21).

So, what’s the rub? They should be a slam dunk host and a potential top eight national seed?

The problem involves their conference, the Big West. Historically, a strong collection of baseball-focused programs, the past two seasons the group has taken a step back. It wasn’t so long ago that the Big West was jockeying for position as a power baseball conference.

For example, in 2014 the Big West was the fifth rated RPI conference. That dipped to ninth, eighth and eighth the next three years before last season’s stumble to a #14 rating. This season the conference sits at #13th and it serves as an anchor around the Gauchos’ swim to the shore.

Only two other Big West teams have overall winning records. UC Irvine is 25-9 overall and 8-4 in the Big West with a #46 RPI while Cal Poly has the top league mark at 10-2 but are just 19-17 overall with a #141 RPI. The other six programs have losing overall marks and five have RPI ranks in the #200s. It’s a rough year in the league which means UCSB’s #67 overall strength of schedule is surely to plummet with fifteen conference games remaining.

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