College Preview

Projecting The Field Of 64




THE FIELD OF 64
Here are BA's predictions for the NCAA tournament field, with super-regional matchups linked.
Austin Fayetteville, Ark. Charlottesville, Va. Louisville
1. (1) Texas^* 1. Arkansas 1. (2) Virginia 1. Louisville
2. Minnesota 2. Oklahoma 2. Mississippi 2. Vanderbilt
3. Texas State* 3. Virginia Tech 3. James Madison 3. Middle Tenn. State
4. Dartmouth* 4. Oral Roberts 4. Binghamton Dayton
Baton Rouge, La. Columbus, Ohio Fullerton, Calif. Conway, S.C.
1. (3) Louisiana State^* 1. Clemson 1. (4) CS Fullerton Coastal Carolina
2. Kansas 2. Ohio State^* 2. UCLA East Carolina
3. Tulane 3. Bowling Green State* 3. Kentucky 3. N.C. State
4. Southern* Wright State* 4. Fresno State UNC Wilmington
Houston Fort Worth Atlanta Columbia, S.C.
1. (5) Rice^* 1. Texas Christian^* 1. (6) Georgia Tech^ 1. South Carolina
2. Oregon State 2. Texas A&M 2. Georgia 2. North Carolina
3. Oklahoma State 3. Cal Poly 3. Michigan 3. Elon
4. Manhattan 4. Eastern Illinois 4. Fla. International 4. Connecticut
Gainesville, Fla. Tallahassee, Fla. Irvine, Calif. Tempe, Ariz.
1. (7) Florida^ 1. Florida State^ 1. (8) UC Irvine 1. Arizona State
2. Miami Southern Miss. 2. San Diego 2. Wichita State
3. South Florida 3. Alabama 3. Stanford 3. Long Beach State
4. Bethune-Cookman 4. Florida Gulf Coast* 4. Wagner 4. Army

ANALYZING THE FIELD

• The Division I baseball committee caused a furor last selection day by sending eight teams from the Big 12 conference (including ninth-place Oklahoma State) to regionals. That was a record for the Big 12, which will take a step back in 2010, sending just five teams to regionals, according to our projection. But Texas will be the top overall seed for the second year in a row. The Longhorns are the only Big 12 team projected to host a regional, but two other powers in that geographic footprint—Rice and Texas Christian—will host.

• The Mountain West also had a banner year in 2009, sending three teams to regionals, but TCU will be the lone MWC team to return. The Southern and Southland conferences will also have down years, sending one team apiece to the NCAA tournament after sending two apiece last year. The Big East will benefit most from the dips in those other leagues by sending three teams to regionals—two more than a year ago. Five other conferences will send one more team than they did in 2009: the Southeastern (which will send nine, more than any other league), the Atlantic Coast (which will send eight for the first time ever), the Pacific-10, the Big West and Conference USA (which will send four apiece).

• The ACC has 10 regional-caliber teams battling for seven or eight spots. We're betting that Virginia Tech's talent will carry it to a regional for the first time since 2000, and North Carolina State will edge Boston College for the eighth spot based on a more favorable conference schedule. Duke is also in the discussion but will fall short of regionals again.

• The Mid-American Conference champion is usually a No. 4 seed, but we're projecting Bowling Green State as the No. 3 seed in the Columbus Regional. The Falcons will have a chance to build a solid Ratings Percentage Index right out of the gate, with back-to-back series at Louisville and Kentucky—and they're good enough to pick up some wins in those first two weekends. The MAC did produce a No. 3 seed as recently as 2005, when Miami (Ohio) went 44-16 against a stout schedule.

• Ohio State is the only No. 2 seed to host a regional, with Clemson as the No. 1. A mediocre nonconference schedule will hurt the Buckeyes' RPI and prevent them from earning the top seed in their regional, but the committee will not allow Clemson to be a third host in the state of South Carolina. Regionals in Columbia and Conway will also torpedo East Carolina's hosting chances.

• The Big West will produce two national seeds for the second year in a row and will send four teams to regionals for the third time in the last four years. It's also a big year for Northern schools, as the Big East and Big Ten will each produce three regional teams, just as they did in 2007.