Projected Field Of 64: May 22
THE PROJECTED 64-TEAM FIELD
|Here's how Baseball America sees the 64-team NCAA tournament field shaking out as conference tournaments begin for most of the country. National seeds indicated in parentheses.|
|Nashvile, Tenn.||Columbia, Mo.||Tempe, Ariz.||Wichita, Kan.|
|1. (1) Vanderbilt^*||1. Missouri^||1. (5) Arizona State^*||1. Wichita State^*|
|2. Miami||2. Creighton||2. UC Riverside*||2. Michigan*|
|3. Western Carolina||3. Alabama||3. Minnesota||3. Nebraska|
|4. Austin Peay State*||4. Illinois-Chicago*||4. Gonzaga||4. California|
|Houston||Lafayette, La.||Chapel Hill, N.C.||Myrtle Beach,S.C.|
|1. (2) Rice^*||1. Louisiana-Lafayette^*||1. (6) North Carolina^||1. Coastal Carolina^*|
|2. Texas A&M||2. Mississippi State||2. College of Charleston*||2. Clemson|
|3. Rutgers||3. Georgia Tech||3. East Carolina||3. UNC Wilmington*|
|4. Prairie View A&M*||4. Lamar*||4. Quinnipiac*||4. Brown*|
|Austin, Texas||Fayetteville, Ark.||San Diego||Irvine, Calif.|
|1. (3) Texas^*||1. Arkansas^||1. (7) San Diego^*||1. UC Irvine^|
|2. Texas Christian*||2. Oklahoma State||2. Long Beach State||2. Arizona|
|3. Cal State Fullerton||3. Oral Roberts*||3. UCLA||3. Pepperdine|
|4. Binghamton*||4. Central Michigan*||4. Fresno State*||4. Brigham Young|
|Tallahassee, Fla.||Oxford, Miss.||Columbia, S.C.||Charlottesville, Va.|
|1. (4) Florida State^*||1. Mississippi^||1. (8) South Carolina^||1. Virginia^|
|2. Stetson*||2. Southern Mississippi||2. North Carolina State||2. St. John's*|
|3. Louisville||3. Wake Forest||3. Charlotte*||3. Tennessee|
|4. Bethune- Cookman*||4. Troy||4. Lafayette*||4. Le Moyne*|
* Automatic Bid
• These projections are based on our expectations for conference tournaments. Florida was omitted from the field of 64 because the Gators must win three games in the Southeastern Conference tournament just to finish above .500 and be eligible for an at-large berth. That's a tall order. In most cases, we assumed the favorites would win their conference tournaments, but we're going out on a limb and predicting Lamar (Southland), UNC Wilmington (Colonial) and Central Michigan (Mid-American) will pull off minor upsets.
• The Big West does not have a tournament, but we are predicting UC Irvine to take its series from UC Riverside this weekend and finish in second place in the conference, one game behind the Highlanders. We also think Cal State Fullerton will win its series against Long Beach State. If that happens, the Anteaters will get a No. 1 seed and host a regional, pushing Long Beach State to a No. 2. UC Riverside also submitted a bid to host, but Irvine or Long Beach seems a more likely destination--even if the Highlanders win the conference championship--because of superior facilities and stronger RPIs. We'll give the nod to UCI, which will have beaten UCR, LBSU and CSF in head-to-head series.
• The top four Big West teams get bids, and the Pacific-10 conference also gets four thanks to California's late run. The Golden Bears are one of the last teams in thanks to a series win against Arizona State two weeks ago and a sweep of Southern California this past weekend. Other at-large teams squeaking in include Wake Forest, the eighth-place team in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a high RPI and key series victory against Virginia; Brigham Young, finishing strong out of the Mountain West Conference with 13 victories in its last 15 games; Troy, which played a strong non-conference schedule; and Gonzaga, with series victories against Pepperdine and San Diego.
• Conference tournaments can still change the complexion of the field, and there are some strong No. 3 seeds that could move up. We are predicting College of Charleston runs through the Southern Conference tournament in Charleston and earns a No. 2, but Western Carolina could be a two if it can pull off that run. East Carolina, Charlotte and Pepperdine are all ready to step into No. 2 seeds if one of the teams ahead of them falters. We gave Southern Mississippi the edge over the Pirates because the Golden Eagles finished stronger and won the head-to-head series against ECU, but those teams could flip-flop if the Pirates can make some noise in the Conference USA tournament in their own ballpark.
• South Carolina's grip on the final national seed is tenuous, and Coastal Carolina, Virginia, Missouri or Arkansas could snatch it away with strong conference tournament performances. Of course, Arkansas has lost three straight weekend series and could also lose its host site with a bad week. If that happens, Texas Christian or St. John's could get a regional.