Projected Field Of 64

Houston Norman, Okla. Fullerton, Calif. Charlottesville, Va.
1. (1) Rice^* 1. Oklahoma^ 1. (5) Cal State Fullerton^ 1. Virginia^
2. Western Kentucky* 2. Minnesota 2. San Diego State 2. Vanderbilt
3. Oklahoma State 3. UC Riverside 3. Boston College 3. George Mason*
4. Monmouth* 4. Wichita State* 4. Fresno State* 4. Kent State*
Baton Rouge, La. Coral Gables, Fla. Austin Fort Worth, Texas
1. (2) Louisiana State^* 1. Miami^ 1. (6) Texas^* 1. Texas Christian^*
2. Florida State 2. Florida 2. Hawaii 2. Texas A&M
3. Southern Mississippi 3. Rhode Island* 3. Texas State* 3. Alabama
4. Southern* 4. Jacksonville* 4. Stony Brook* 4. Indiana*
Irvine, Calif. Corvallis, Ore. Tempe, Ariz. Fayetteville, Ark.
1. (3) UC Irvine^* 1. Baylor 1. (7) Arizona State^* 1. Arkansas^
2. San Diego* 2. Oregon State^ 2. Cal Poly 2. Kansas State
3. Southern California 3. Gonzaga 3. Kansas 3. Eastern Illinois*
4. Canisius* 4. Illinois-Chicago* 4. New Mexico 4. Oral Roberts*
Chapel Hill, N.C. Conway, S.C. Athens, Ga. Atlanta
1. (4) North Carolina^* 1. Coastal Carolina^* 1. (8) Georgia^ 1. Georgia Tech^
2. Elon* 2. East Carolina 2. Clemson 2. Mississippi
3. Louisville* 3. South Carolina 3. Middle Tennessee State 3. Georgia Southern
4. Winthrop 4. Dartmouth* 4. Bethune-Cookman* 4. Army*
^ Regional host
* Automatic qualifier

REGIONAL ANALYSIS:

• Rice is well on its way to its annual domination of Conference USA, and no potential speedbumps remain on its schedule. Expect the Owls to finish with the nation’s highest Ratings Percentage Index and earn the No. 1 overall seed.

• Louisiana State remains the pick to win the Southeastern Conference and earn the No. 2 overall seed. This weekend’s Arkansas-Georgia series could go a long way toward determining which of those two teams earns the SEC’s second national seed. We’ll take the Bulldogs thanks to their superior pitching and home-field advantage this weekend. The SEC gets eight bids, with Auburn landing on the wrong side of the bubble despite currently ranking 21st in the RPI according to Boyd’s World. It’s easy to envision the Tigers getting in as the SEC’s ninth team, but an easier path to a bid would open up if South Carolina or Vanderbilt falters down the stretch.

• The ACC gets seven bids, with Duke just missing out on its first bid since 1961. The Blue Devils do have winnable series remaining at Maryland and home against Boston College—the latter of which could put them over the top. The ACC leads all conferences with four host sites, with Virginia getting the final site over Florida State and Clemson thanks to a very favorable remaining schedule. The Cavaliers already have weathered series against Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and Florida State, and their superior talent should prevail down the stretch. Miami will drop its second straight road series this weekend against North Carolina to fall out of contention for a national seed.

• The Big 12 is the nation’s best conference but gets just two regional sites because the NCAA baseball committee won’t put more than three regionals in Texas. Rice is a lock for one, and Texas Christian has the RPI and talent to win a second. Texas has the most favorable remaining schedule of Big 12 contenders and has come on strong in recent weeks, so give the Longhorns a third regional in the Lone Star State. Oklahoma is the most complete team in the conference and takes the Big 12′s other regional site. Baylor earns a No. 1 seed but gets shipped to Corvallis for the sake of geographic variety. Oklahoma State and Missouri battle for the conference’s seventh regional berth, but the Cowboys have the inside track thanks mostly to a 31-place edge in the RPI.

• The last teams in are New Mexico (who will make a strong second-half push to earn the Mountain West Conference’s third bid), Winthrop and Oklahoma State. The last teams out are UNC Wilmington, Duke, Auburn, Florida International, College of Charleston and UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos have regional talent but are just 5-4 in the Big West and have yet to play any of the league’s top teams. They rank 75th in the RPI but could jump up quickly by winning series against Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and Cal Poly.

• The Titans currently have the nation’s top RPI, but they trail the Anteaters by three games in the Big West and lost the head-to-head series at home, so give UCI the higher national seed.

• We’re betting Indiana and Fresno State are talented enough to run through their respective conference tournaments and earn automatic bids. Neither team is in position to earn an at-large bid if they falter in conference tournaments, but current league front-runners Minnesota and Hawaii look like No. 2 seeds. Ohio State ranks 22nd in the RPI, but hasn’t won a series against any team in regional contention, and we’re betting the Buckeyes fall back to the Big Ten pack in the second half.

• The most intriguing storyline is the showdown between UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie and his son-in-law, Chad Kreuter, who replaced him as head coach at Southern California after he was forced out. Baylor and Oregon State last met in the 2005 College World Series, when the Bears eliminated the Beavers in the opening weekend.

College | #2009 #On Campus

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