Chapel Hill Regional
1. North Carolina (6)* 4. Jackson State*
2. Florida 3. Western Carolina*
1. Oregon 4. Illinois State*
2. Oklahoma State 3. Sam Houston State
1. Florida State (7) 4. Auburn
2. Florida Atlantic 3. South Florida
Los Angeles Regional
1. UCLA 4. Gonzaga*
2. New Mexico* 3. UC Irvine
1. NC State (8) 4. Rider*
2. Mercer* 3. William & Mary
1. Louisville* 4. Kent State*
2. Mississippi 3. Ohio State
Last Five In: Ohio State, South Florida, Pittsburgh, UC Irvine, Auburn
First Five Out: Kentucky, Texas A&M, Creighton, North Florida, Houston
* Denotes an Automatic Bid
SEC - 9
ACC - 8
Big East - 4
Sun Belt - 4
Big 12 - 3
WCC - 3
Big West - 3
Big Ten - 3
Big South - 2
Colonial - 2
Toughest Regional - Bloomington
Easiest Regional - Raleigh
Strictly on a résumé basis, the ACC deserves the four national seeds I gave them. Whether the selection committee will grant them the quartet, however, is up in the air. Right now I have NC State beating out Louisville and a pair of Pac-12 clubs for the final spot. The Cardinals do have a slightly better record than that of the Wolfpack, but NCSU's RPI and SOS ranks, at ninth and 12th respectively, carry enough weight over the Ville's 13th and 85th ranking to give them the nod. The Pack have at least three games left (vs Clemson, vs Miami Florida, vs North Carolina) before Selection Monday, and I think they need to win two of them to hold steady at number eight. If they do stumble in Durham, then Louisville would be the next best option, assuming the Cards don't drop more than one game in Clearwater.
At the very top of the bracket are Vanderbilt and LSU, and I think a SEC Tournament championship win for the Tigers would make them the top overall seed on Monday. The Bayou Bengals are playing some of the best baseball in the nation right now, winning nine of their last 11.
The NCAA's decision to do away with the S-Curve and focus more on putting teams in their respective regions hurts Cal State Fullerton the most, as the third best team in the nation ends up with one of the top two seeds and a dangerous three all coming to Fullerton. Also hit hard is South Carolina, who I project to meet with Miami (Florida) and Oklahoma.
Putting North Carolina as the sixth overall seed seems a bit low, but what are you going to do when so many teams in front of them look so good? I think an ACC Tournament championship could bump them up a slot and bump Virginia down behind the Heels and Beavers, but we'll see how the RPI numbers shake out on Sunday.
The biggest surprise in my field is the inclusion of Virginia Tech as a regional host. But I'm taking the Hokies over Kansas State, who is the top two seed in my opinion. The Wildcats do have a slightly better record, but Va Tech outranks them by eight spots in the RPI and 37 in SOS. Virginia Tech is also 13-2 in their last 15, one of the categories the committee will look closely at, and boasts three victories over Virginia.
Work Left: Texas A&M has been oh-so-close to playing its way into the field of 64 these past few weeks, and if they can find their way to the semifinals, I think the Aggies are included.
Work Left: North Florida is in a similar situation to the Aggies, and will have to make either the semifinals or championship game of the Atlantic Sun tourney to draw any at-large consideration from the selection committee. Poor performances from Auburn and UC Irvine in the final week of the season wouldn't hurt either.
Below is a table where I best try to break down what is left for the bubble teams that are still playing. If it looks a little confusing, you can blame that on the conferences that set up their tournaments so only a rocket scientist can properly decipher the bracket. But I've done my best.
5/24 vs Indiana
5/25 vs TBD
5/24 vs Rutgers
5/25 and 5/26 vs TBD
5/24 vs Long Beach State
5/25 vs Long Beach State
5/24 vs Vanderbilt
5/25 and 5/26 vs TBD
5/24 vs Kennesaw State
5/25 and 5/26 vs TBD
5/24 vs Southern Miss
5/25 vs Tulane and 5/26 vs TBD
Breaking these down briefly, we'll start with the Buckeyes. They are pretty much a lock to make the field at this point and would have to lose two games in spectacular fashion in Minneapolis to drop out. South Florida is pretty much in the same boat, but losses for them would look even worse since their possible tournament opponents have much lower RPI's than those of the Bucks.
The Anteaters are hanging on by a thread and need to win one of their remaining two games against Long Beach State to have a no-sweat Monday. Texas A&M has had a great finish to the season, and like I said above, if it can make it to the semifinals of the SEC Tourney, the Aggies could jump co-SEC competitors Kentucky and Auburn. North Florida and Houston need a disaster from each team in front of them in order to jump, since their RPI's will continue to drop as they progress through their respective tournaments.
MAJOR UPDATES THROUGH 5/24
North Carolina moves from the sixth national seed to fourth. While the Tar Heels didn't exactly play superb ball for the first eight innings, a good win is a good win. Doesn't hurt that the Beavers posted an awful loss to Washington State, either.
Kansas State moves into hosting position, Clemson drops out. The Tigers could only afford to drop one game in the pool play portion of the ACC Tournament, and with yesterday's poor finish, they are subbed out for the Wildcats.
With teams like Mercer and Sam Houston State being ousted from their respective conference tournaments, bubble slots are beginning to slide away. Auburn and UC Irvine are the only victims so far, but the number could continue to rise after today's games.
Last Five In: Oklahoma, Western Carolina, San Francisco, Ohio State, South Florida
First Five Out: Austin Peay, Texas A&M, Auburn, Kentucky, BYU
Bubble Games To Watch (5/25, All Times Pacific): Oklahoma vs Kansas State - 10:30 AM, Ohio State vs Nebraska - 1:30 PM, Austin Peay vs TBD - 2:00 PM, San Francisco vs San Diego - 7:00 PM
Check back early tomorrow morning for an update through today's contests.
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