College Baseball Projected Field Of 64: May 26Featured
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SEE ALSO: Analyzing The Regional Host Candidates
The NCAA tournament field of 64 is really starting to take shape, as numerous teams punched their tickets to regionals by winning conference tournaments on Dogpile Saturday. Our running tally of automatic bids runs down the 18 teams that have already secured trips to regionals, leaving 13 auto bids left to be won on Sunday.
Stolen Bid Watch
No bids were “stolen” Saturday by the elimination of strong at-large candidates in conferences that would otherwise be one-bid leagues. That leaves BYU and Texas State as the only two regular-season champions in projected one-bid leagues that have moved onto the at-large bubble so far.
Overall, Saturday brought good news for bubble teams, as Creighton and Fresno State both followed up their regular-season conference titles with conference tourney crowns, keeping them out of the at-large pool and ensuring the Big East and Mountain West will remain one-bid leagues.
But bubble teams aren’t out of the woods yet, as teams outside at-large range could steal swoop in and grab automatic bids Sunday in the American (Cincinnati), A-Sun (Stetson), Big 12 (TCU, though the Frogs have played their way back onto the bubble) and Big Ten (the winner of the Ohio State/Minnesota semifinal). Also keep an eye on Conference USA, where Southern Miss remains one of our first five teams outside the field of 64, but could snag the auto bid and turn C-USA into a two-bid league if it takes down FAU in Sunday’s final.
Top Eight Update
Our updated field projection features no changes among our top eight seeds from yesterday, as Georgia Tech solidified its position by advancing to the ACC championship game, and we still believe Texas Tech and Louisville will grab the last two spots, thanks to their regular-season championships in top-three RPI conferences. Oklahoma State lost Saturday to TCU, but if the Cowboys can win Sunday morning’s rematch against the Frogs and then take down WVU in the Big 12 title game, they might well displace Louisville or Texas Tech. For now, they’re just short.
We have one change to our hosts since yesterday: North Carolina replaces NC State. After the Wolfpack took two of three in Chapel Hill last weekend, we figured NCSU was safely ahead of UNC in the pecking order… but the Tar Heels have gone 3-0 in the conference tourney to advance to Sunday’s title game, while the Wolfpack went 1-2. As a result, UNC is now five spots higher in the RPI (No. 14, compared with NCSU’s No. 19), and UNC now has a better aggregate ACC record (20-13 compared with NCSU’s 19-14). It turns out, that “meaningless” Florida State-NC State game on Friday night was not meaningless at all; that loss helped UNC move back ahead of NC State in the hosting race, despite the head-to-head result. And the Tar Heels can clearly remove any doubt with one more win on Sunday against Georgia Tech.
Our final host spot came down to Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss and NC State. All three members of our committee — Aaron Fitt, Mark Etheridge and Kendall Rogers — believe the Rebels are more deserving of a host spot than A&M after their run to the SEC title game. Ole Miss is now 4-0 vs. A&M, and Ole Miss has the better aggregate SEC record (20-15 compared with A&M’s 17-15-1), the better top 50 mark (20-18 vs. A&M’s 14-16-1), the better top 25 mark and the same amount of top 100 wins. So we would give the nod to Ole Miss, but we expect the committee will still ultimately fall back on A&M’s RPI advantage (No. 15 compared with Ole Miss’ No. 22) and give the Aggies the nod. Certainly Ole Miss can force its way into the top 16 by beating Vanderbilt on Sunday, which would boost its RPI into the teens. But if the Rebels fall short, their RPI should stay just about where it is, and historically SEC teams in the 20s just do not host outside of a couple of exceptions. Maybe the committee will buck that history this year, but we’re skeptical.
We have no new at-large teams in our field, and almost no update to our at-large ladder since Friday morning. We’re removing Liberty from the ladder for now after the Flames forced a winner-takes-all game Sunday against Stetson; we’re flipping Liberty back to our projected automatic qualifier in the A-Sun, but if the Hatters win, Liberty will certainly have a solid shot at an at-large bid, now that it has passed the 40-win mark and boosted its RPI into the low-40s.
And we’re adding TCU to the ladder (at spot No. 68) after its win against Oklahoma State on Saturday, forcing a rematch with the Cowboys to determine who advances to face WVU in the Big 12 finals. TCU is up to No. 58 in the RPI with an aggregate Big 12 record of 14-13. And TCU moves ahead of Arizona on our ladder based upon its 12-13 record against the top 50, compared with Arizona’s 3-16. There’s just no hiding from that for the Wildcats, even though they went 13-1 in the month of May (with all but two of those victories coming against teams with losing overall records, and the other two being a doubleheader sweep against No. 75 Sam Houston State, a team that isn’t close to making a regional). The hot finish was impressive, but unfortunately for the Wildcats, they did not have the opportunity to rack up some desperately needed high-end wins in the conference tournament. TCU did have that opportunity because its league actually has a conference tourney — and the Frogs have taken advantage, beating Oklahoma, Baylor and OSU over the last three days. But ultimately, both of those teams are still on the outside looking in.
|IN THE FIELD, BUT NOT COMFORTABLY:|
|57. Florida State|
|LAST FIVE IN:|
|60. Texas State|
|FIRST FIVE OUT:|
|65. UC Irvine|
|67. Southern Miss|
|LOS ANGELES||COLLEGE STATION|
|1 UCLA* (1)||1 Texas A&M (16)|
|4 Quinnipiac*||4 McNeese State*|
|3 Loyola Marymount*||3 BYU|
|2 Indiana State*||2 Baylor|
|1 Vanderbilt* (2)||1 North Carolina (15)|
|4 Wofford*||4 UNC Wilmington*|
|4 Liberty*||3 Campbell*|
|2 Connecticut*||2 Tennessee|
|1 Mississippi State (3)||1 LSU (14)|
|4 Jacksonville State*||4 Southern*|
|3 Clemson||3 Illinois State|
|2 Nebraska||2 Miami|
|1 Georgia (4)||1 Oregon State (13)|
|4 Florida A&M*||4 Bryant*|
|3 Georgia Southern*||3 Duke|
|2 Illinois||2 Auburn|
|1 Arkansas (5)||1 West Virginia (12)|
|4 Omaha*||4 Army*|
|3 Florida Atlantic*||3 Florida|
|2 Creighton*||2 Indiana|
|1 Georgia Tech* (6)||1 Stanford (11)|
|4 Central Michigan*||4 Harvard*|
|3 UCF||3 Fresno State*|
|2 Ole Miss||2 UC Santa Barbara*|
|1 Texas Tech (7)||1 East Carolina (10)|
|4 Grand Canyon*||4 Stony Brook*|
|3 Texas State||3 Michigan|
|2 Arizona State||2 NC State|
|1 Louisville (8)||1 Oklahoma State* (9)|
|4 Fordham*||4 Illinois-Chicago*|
|3 Houston||3 Florida State|
|2 California||2 Dallas Baptist|