Here's a quick look at the postseason ramifications of Wednesday's action in college baseball. We'll break it down by the races for national seeds, hosts and at-large spots.
NATiONAL SEED RACE
Texas A&M was Wednesday's big winner, although the Aggies are still not in national seed position. But for them to climb back into national seed footing, a day like Wednesday was a necessary starting point. The Aggies beat Texas Tech, 10-5, while most of the other contenders for the last national seeds lost. Missouri upset Texas, 6-4. North Carolina State pounded Florida State, 7-0. Clemson smashed Georgia Tech, 9-0. UAB jumped out to a 9-0 lead and held off a furious rally to upset Rice, 9-8. In this week's Stock Report, we had A&M, Texas, FSU, Tech and Rice competing for two national seeds, which we awarded to Texas and Florida State. Wednesday's action was not enough to dislodge Texas as a national seed, but Florida State has now lost four of its last five games, and it probably needs to win both of its next two games in pool play—against Clemson and Georgia Tech—to feel good about its national seed chances again. Likewise, if the Yellow Jackets win their next two games against N.C. State and FSU, they would seemingly edge ahead of FSU in the national seed picture. If both teams go 1-1 in those next two games, and Rice or A&M finishes strong in their respective tournaments, both ACC teams could find themselves out of national seeds.
We'll continue to assume the West lands one national seed, but if Arizona State, Oregon State and Fullerton all falter in the final weekend, another national seed could become available for another region.
REGIONAL HOSTING RACE
Clemson's case continues to build. The Tigers are one of the nation's hottest teams, having won series against both FSU and Georgia Tech down the stretch, and Wednesday's convincing win against the Yellow Jackets gives them further momentum. We still don't like Clemson's chances to pass FSU or Tech as one of the ACC's top four hosts—though a 3-0 run through pool play, which would include wins over both those two teams, could change that—but Clemson is making a case that it should be a fifth host out of the ACC, at the expense of Arkansas, Southern Miss or TCU. The Horned Frogs were upset by New Mexico in the MWC tournament, 4-3, but they remain 17th in the RPI, which means they should remain in hosting position if they can win two or three more games in the conference tournament. Southern Miss got off to a good start in the C-USA tournament, beating Tulane 6-1 behind ace Todd McInnis. Arkansas stumbled, though, losing to Alabama, 7-4. If the Hogs go 0-2 in Hoover, you have to think their hosting chances are shot—and Clemson seems in position to benefit.
One other top hosting candidate also lost Wednesday: Oklahoma was bumped off by Kansas State, 5-4. If the Sooners go 0-2 in the Big 12 tourney, their hosting chances figure to go out the window. They'll need a deep run to pass the teams in front of them.
Finally, stick a fork in Stetson's hosting chances after it was blown out by Belmont, 15-3—the Hatters' third straight loss, all to the Bruins.
The Atlantic Sun is a very interesting conference to watch when it comes to the at-large bubble. Jacksonville helped its case witha 2-1 win against East Tennessee State. In Tuesday's Stock Report, we had the Dolphins in and the Bucs out despite ETSU's RPI advantage, and Wednesday's game certainly reinforces that position. But watch out for Mercer: The Bears beat Kennesaw State, 6-4, and sit at No. 54 in the RPI. That RPI is outside the at-large comfort zone, but Mercer makes up for it with a solid 3-4 record against the top 25 and a 12-11 mark against the top 100. Mercer also finished strong, winning eight of its last nine games counting Wednesday, and it placed ahead of ETSU in the A-Sun standings by a half-game.
We included Kansas State in the field Tuesday, and the Wildcats' upset of Oklahoma was just the sort of marquee win they needed to bolster their case. But Texas Tech did not help itself with its loss to Texas A&M. If the Red Raiders go 0-2 in the Big 12 tourney, it's hard to see them getting an at-large bid, especially with a 2-10 record against the top 25.
St. John's is in the Mercer range, with an RPI in the low-to-mid-50s, though its records against the top 25 (1-3) and top 100 (8-14) are not as good as Mercer's. The Johnnies need a deep run in the Big East tournament to get at-large consideration, and their week got off to a good start with an 8-4 win against Cincinnati. Connecticut also got off to a good start, beating Notre Dame 4-2. The Huskies seem safe for an at-large spot.
Coastal Carolina is in similar position to UConn, though its RPI (No. 48) is 11 spots behind UConn's (No. 37). The Chanticleers have a nice 16-7 record against the top 100, though, and a Big South regular-season crown under their belt. Coastal blanked Radford, 5-0, behind a no-hitter from Anthony Meo.
Another mid-major conference favorite with a realistic at-large shot, Kent State, also got off to a good start, beating Bowling Green State, 6-2. The Flashes are right behind Coastal in the RPI (No. 49), but their 5-8 record against the top 100 puts them behind the Chanticleers in the pecking order. We expect Kent State to win the automatic bid, but if it does not, it needs a nice run in the MAC tourney to solidify its at-large chances.
Creighton won its first MVC tourney game against Bradley, 4-1, but lost to Missouri State, 10-3 in its second game. Still, we think the Bluejays just needed to avoid an 0-2 showing—their No. 39 RPI, MVC regular-season crown and and 10-5 mark against the top 100 should be enough to land them an at-large spot, regardless of whether it avoids elimination Thursday.
Georgia and Auburn both lost Wednesday, setting up a win-or-go-home game between the two teams Thursday. Auburn needs just one win to finish above .500 overall and be eligible for the NCAA tournament, while Georgia needs three wins. After the poor effort the Bulldogs showed against Vanderbilt, which run-ruled them 10-0, we don't think highly of Georgia's chances.
The two Southland Conference bubble teams each lost, as Nicholls State toppled top-seeded Texas State, 6-0, and Sam Houston State blasted Southeastern Louisiana, 12-0. Both teams are in trouble unless they rebound to make very deep runs in the conference tournament.
Sun Belt top seed Troy fell a few spots to No. 51 in the RPI after getting upset by Arkansas-Little Rock, 4-2. The Trojans need a couple more wins to feel good about their at-large chances, but we like their 16-12 record against the top 100, their 40-win regular season and two wins against Southern Miss. Even if they lose again Thursday, they could be OK. Florida Atlantic is in worse position despite a better RPI (No. 43), because the Owls are just 13-18 against the top 100 and finished four games behind Troy in the conference standings. FAU was out-slugged by Western Kentucky, 11-10, so the Owls need to rebound with a couple of wins to bolster their at-large case.
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