Friday Wrap: The Good And Bad

Roundup


It’s getting white-knuckle time isn’t it? Here we are now, just two playing days away from Selection Monday. Jockeying for position in National Seed discussion, the home Regional discussion and the at-large bubble discussion are getting heated… and a little desperate.

Aaron and Kendall have all the skinny on the Big 12 and SEC tournaments, so catch up on those scenes with those award-winning writers and reporters. What else happened beyond those blue blood conferences and their respective tournaments? And how about some of the goings-ons of those sane conferences out West who realize conference tournaments are superfluous and money-grabs? There is a lot going on nationwide.

Here is who saw their stock rise and fall on this third-to-last day before the Selection Show. I can hear Kyle Peterson warming up his vocal chords from here.

HELPED THEIR CAUSE
Teams that have spiffied up their resume a bit today.

– The Late Risers
Coming into the week, nobody had traditional powers like Miami, Oklahoma State and Rice anywhere on the radar for at-large consideration and an NCAA Tournament bid. Well, three days later, guess what? All three could be inching their way to the promised land. Here’s how they stacked up as of end of day today…

– Miami. 
The Hurricanes have a 44-year NCAA tournament streak to keep alive and this week’s play makes it look like their are locked-in on target. They increased their win streak to six games with a 5-2 win over Wake Forest, pushing their record to 30-26 and moving their RPI to No. 39.  Look for more RPI points ahead as they’ll play No. 2 North Carolina on Saturday.

– Oklahoma State. 
Wanna know what wins over the Nos. 4 and 18 teams will do for you? The Pokes have been a heat-seeker of late, including the wins over Texas Tech and West Virginia in their first two games of the Big 12 tournament. They took today off from tournament play, but their RPI still rose up to No. 47. Their rise is far from over with West Virginia coming up again on Saturday.

– Rice
Like OkieState, the Owls took today off from the C-USA tournament, but won their first two games against FAU (No. 51) and Old Dominion (No. 49) to help raise their RPI up 10 slots to No. 50. The Owls are still just .500 at 29-29, so they will still have to win more games than they lose the rest of this weekend. The Owls took care of FAU Saturday, went 3-0 in their bracket and now will play for the C-USA automatic bid.

– UCF
How about this?… the Golden Knights as a regional host? Yes, that’s quite possibly a “thing” now. They put a major league beatdown on USF today, by a 12-0 score, pulling in their 40th win of the season. That means the AAC Regular Season Champions now move up to No. 20 in the RPI. The problem is that they’ll now have to beat East Carolina twice tomorrow to move into the championship game on Sunday. Prior to their 14-3 loss to ECU in round one of the AAC tournament, the Knights swept three games at ECU back in April.

– Florida State
Okay boys and girls, never bet against Mike Martin. Just don’t. for the third time in a week the Seminoles took down Louisville, this time by a 6-2 score, to advance to the ACC semifinals. Starting pitcher Tyler Holton threw 8.0 innings of four-hit, 10-K ball to put a collar on the UofL offense. On the strength of these recent wins over the Cards, the Garnet & Gold could conceivably still have a chance to pull not only a home Regional but also a National Seed. With their RPI hovering at No. 11, they’ll face Duke and then possibly Miami or North Carolina should they advance to the finals.

Florida State’s Tyler Holton was a model of consistency against a potent Louisville lineup today.

– Florida Gulf Coast
The Eagles staved off elimination with a pair of wins today at the A-Sun tournament with a 3-1 win over Lipscomb and a 6-5 win over Kennesaw State. Against the Owls they got an RBI jog-off single from Matt Reardon in the ninth. Whew! With an RPI at No. 41, they could still be in pretty good shape, win or lose in the championship round vs. Jacksonville. Their non-conference RPI is a very solid No. 24. Let’s hope the committee notices that, if they don’t win the A-Sun tournament.

– Stanford
It was generally considered that if the Cardinal could go on the road and win the series at Washington State, they could possibly lock up a national seed. Well here we go people, SU took down Wazzu for the second straight day, 5-3. A four-run seventh inning sealed the deal with Nico Hoerner’s RBI double put the Card up for good. Stanford now sits at No. 9 in the RPI, but knowing the NCAA Selection Committee they might throw coach Mark Marquess a bone here and give him a top eight. Eh, it’s his last go-round after all.

HURT THEIR CAUSE
Teams that saw their hopes take a hit today.

– Clemson
Ranked at No. 9 in the RPI at the beginning of the week, the Tigers had designs on staying at Doug Kingsmore Stadium for the entirety of the pre-Omaha post-season. Well those dreams fell flat in two games in Louisville this week. Today’s 10-2 loss to Virginia dropped the Tigers to No. 12 to go along with their 0-2 visit to the ACC tournament. The Tigers, who went just 13-10 away from home this year, could still be in line for a home weekend next week, but they could’ve had much more.

– Mississippi State
Just ran out of pitching. That’s what happened to MSU today. The Bulldogs have a pretty thin mound staff to begin with thanks to all the injuries that befell their arms corps. Today, they were avalanched in a pair of games, losing 12-3 to Florida (thanks to an 11-run eighth inning) and 9-2 to Arkansas, allowing 20 hits and issuing 17 walks in the two games. That ended their SEC tournament run and also indicated that this team might not be equipped for a deep run. Get ready to be a two-seed at Southern Miss next weekend, boys.

– Louisville
As mentioned above, for the third straight time in a week the Cardinals lost to Florida State right there in Cassius Clay-town, this time by a 4-2 score. More than likely, this loss has no ill-affects on the Cardinals’ chances for a national seed. But what does this do to their psyche? In three years of being in the ACC, the Cardinals are now just 3-5 in ACC tournament play. Overall they are 70-19 in games vs. ACC teams.

– South Florida
The Bulls hopes for actually pulling off a home Regional can be laid to rest now. After entering the week at No. 18 in the RPI, the Bulls lost to East Carolina last night and got plastered by UCF tonight, 12-zot. With the two Ls the Bulls drop down to No. 22 and out of the host Regional conversation.

– Coastal Carolina
Talk about a big wild ride on the #PainTrain, somehow, today’s 7-5 loss to Texas State in the Sun Belt Conference tournament cost the Chanticleers 12 spots in the RPI. Not a typo. CCU was at No. 48 coming in, and with their 12-2 streak they were on it looked like a solid shot at an at-large berth. Now, at No. 57? No dice. The loss was their second of the week, so the Chants very likely saw their season come to an end. Andrew Beckwith suffered just his third loss in two seasons, giving up eight hits and six runs in 3.2 innings of work.

– UCLA
Nobody has had bigger drops in their RPI lately than the Bruins. After Tuesday’s loss at UC Irvine, the Bruins saw their RPI plunge from No. 50 to No. 59. They worked their way back up to No. 52. Tonight’s 2-1 loss at Oregon, which saw the Bruins gather just three hits, puts them back down at No. 54. Still, the Bruins are 18-11 in Pac 12 play going into their final regular season game against the Ducks on Saturday.

OTHER TOURNAMENT NOTES
A quick-hit look at some of the other conference tournaments going on around the country.

– THE ATLANTIC SUN
Day of the Dolphins
Jacksonville has a case of the Crazy 8s. The No. 1-seeded Dolphins have lived up to the hype, scoring eight runs in each of their first three games including today’s 8-4 pasting of Kennesaw State. With the three wins, JU advances into the A-Sun Tournament championship round.

– THE BIG EAST
That Loud Sigh You Just Heard Was The Rest Of The Country Hearing That St. John’s Won
The 20th-ranked Red Storm won an elimination game vs. Seton Hall by a 3-2 count by scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth. They’ll still be up against it to saving some of those bubble teams by winning the Big East Tournament as they’ll have to beat the home team Creighton Bluejays and then beat Xavier twice. Good luck guys… and bubble teams out there.

– THE ATLANTIC 10
Davidson Returns To The Title Round
In an elimination game vs. St. Louis, the Wildcats were down 7-3 in the game but scored a run in the seventh, three in the eighth and then got the game winning run in the 10th inning to beat homestanding St. Louis 8-7. This is the second year in a row that the Cats are in the championship round, but they will have to beat VCU twice on Saturday to claim the A-10 crown.

– THE BIG 10
The Spencer Effect. 
Have you guys seen what Northwestern is doing in the Big 10 tournament? Today’s 11-7 win over Minnesota marked the Cats’ seventh straight win and second straight in Bloomington to remain in the winner’s bracket. Their seven wins in a row is the longest W streak for the Purple Cats since 2003 and the two wins in the Big 10 Tourney are the most since 2002. Connor Lind had four RBI on two hits to pace the offense.

– THE HORIZON LEAGUE
The Best Teams You Don’t Know About
The Horizon League Tournament in Chicago has come down to Wright State and Illinois-Chicago in the finals on Saturday, and that’s just as well since these two teams have both won 38 games so far this season. The Raiders have beaten Clemson and South Carolina and the Flames took down a pair of games at Vanderbilt and beat Georgia Tech. But between these two it’s been mostly the Flames game, as UIC has won three of the five matchups so far. WSU will need to beat the Flames twice on Saturday.

– THE SUN BELT
Exit the Cajuns
Georgia Southern posted a wild, 11-inning win over Louisiana, overcoming a four-run deficit in the ninth inning to pull off a 7-6 win. Logan Baldwin’s grand slam keyed the ninth inning rally to tie the game at 6-6. Then in the 11th, Baldwin scored the game-winning run, getting knocked in by Jordan Wren’s double. Rain has hampered the Sun Belt Tourney so bad that the they have made it a single elimination tournament. With that, the Ragin Cajuns were eliminated with this GSU rally. They also saw their RPI drop eight slots to No. 60. Oof, this isn’t good for ULL.

– THE COLONIAL
The Blue Hens Are The Cock Of The Walk
Delaware scored eight runs with two out in the sixth inning to help rout UNC-Wilmington 14-8 and stay unbeaten in the Colonial Tournament. The Blue Hens advance to the title round of the CAA tourney for the first time since 2012 and will face off with either regular season champion Northeastern or UNCW, needing to win just once in two tries against either of them.

– THE WEST COAST CONFERENCE
It’s John Stockton U in the driver’s seat out West. 
Yes, senior righty Justin Vernia allowed just three hits and one walk as Gonzaga took a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning against LMU and made it stand for their second straight win in the four-team tourney. The Zags went on to a 3-1 win to advance to the WCC title round where they’ll await BYU, who also beat LMU 5-4 late night on Friday. The Bulldogs are on a 10-2 spree and have seen their RPI shoot up eight spots this week up to No. 46.

– “What’s Up With That?” – Keenan Thompson
Conference USA’s tournament has been given the name “The First, A National Banking Association, 2017 Conference USA Championship.” Yes, not a lie. Can’t they get a more palatable sponsor for their post-season tournament. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Speaking of bad decisions, why on Earth would the Atlantic 10 decided to have their tournament played at the St. Louis Sports Complex on the SLU campus? The high school-like facility had to have a temporary press box made out of… wait for it… SCAFFOLDING. When I went to the A-10 tournament in 2009, it was held at a very cool minor league field in Dayton. I took some nice dogpile pictures from the upper deck.

The rather spartan facility known as the St. Louis Sports Complex with its scaffolding press box.

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