SEE ALSO: Top 25 Coverage
SEE ALSO: Field of 64 Coverage
This weekend marks one of the last opportunities for teams to improve their at-large cases, with conference tournaments on the horizon next week.
It's a critical time, in particular, for teams on the bubble. Starting in the Atlantic Coast Conference, both Florida State and North Carolina State are on the bubble in this week, but each team could derail its chances with a poor weekend. Both teams will have the opportunity to add another marquee win to their respective slates, with FSU traveling to No. 2 Louisville and N.C. State hosting Clemson. Even if all FSU and N.C. State do is avoid getting swept, that could be enough of a jolt to keep them safely in. A good showing in the upcoming ACC tournament in Louisville could go a long way, as well.
In the Pac-12 Conference, both UCLA and Utah are on the bubble. One could play its way off the bubble this weekend when the two teams meet in Los Angeles. Utah has a slightly higher RPI, but UCLA is ahead in the conference standings and will have home-field advantage this weekend.
In the Southeastern Conference, South Carolina has now entered dangerous territory, having lost seven straight conference series. While the Gamecocks still have the No. 31 RPI, they're 12-15 in the conference and desperately need a series win against Georgia this weekend and likely a win or two in the SEC tournament to seal an at-large bid. South Carolina has won just two SEC series all season, at Tennessee and against Alabama in the first two weeks of the conference slate. Auburn is also on the highway to the danger zone after getting swept on back-to-back SEC weekends. At one point No. 4 in the College Top 25, the Tigers have slid to No. 43 in the RPI and will need to snap out of their funk against Mississippi this weekend to avoid sliding onto the bubble.
The other three teams worth noting on the bubble are Kansas and Sun Belt teams Coastal Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette. The Jayhawks would be the seventh team in the field for the Big 12—the No. 1 RPI conference—should they get in. At the moment they are at No. 59 in the RPI but have a huge opportunity this weekend at No. 4 Texas Tech to jump up several slots. Kansas has series wins against Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and is tied for fourth in the conference at 11-10.
In the Sun Belt, both defending national champion Coastal and Louisiana are on somewhat shaky ground at No. 46 and No. 47 in the RPI, respectively. The Sun Belt is No. 9 in conference RPI and will only get so many bids. The Ragin' Cajuns are fifth overall in the conference standings and could use a strong final-weekend showing. The Chanticleers, meanwhile, are only a half game back of first-place South Alabama in the East Division, and won the head-to-head series. They're in striking distance, but their resume is noticeably thinner than it was a year ago with a 3-9-1 record against Top 50 RPI teams.
At the top of the field, there were some changes to the national seeds and hosts. Stanford, on an absolute tear of late and at No. 11 in the RPI, has moved into the No. 8 national seed spot, replacing Clemson, which was swept in its second straight ACC series. Kentucky, meanwhile, moved back into the national seed picture. The Wildcats face Florida this weekend for the SEC East crown, while Mississippi State and Louisiana State will battle for the SEC West. The winners of those series could potentially shuffle the national seeds again.
Oklahoma joins the hosting ranks this week in lieu of Arizona after winning two of three against Texas Christian. Keep an eye on fellow Big 12 member Baylor, which now ranks at No. 10 in the RPI. The Bears have a shot at hosting, as well.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64
|Corvallis, OR||Long Beach, CA|
|1. (1) Oregon State^*||1. Long Beach State^*|
|2. Maryland||2. Arizona|
|3. Brigham Young*||3. Mississippi|
|4. Jackson State*||4. Jacksonville*|
|1. (2) Louisville^*||1. Southern Mississippi^*|
|2. Texas||2. Arkansas|
|3. Mercer*||3. McNeese State*|
|4. Holy Cross*||4. Tennesse Tech*|
|Chapel Hill, NC||Norman, OK|
|1. (3) North Carolina^||1. Oklahoma^|
|2. St. John’s*||2. Cal State Fullerton|
|3. South Alabama*||3. Indiana|
|4. UNC Wilmington*||4. Oral Roberts*|
|Lubbock, TX||Winston-Salem, NC|
|1. (4) Texas Tech*||1. Wake Forest^|
|2. Texas A&M||2. Baylor|
|3. New Mexico*||3. Auburn|
|4. Fairfield*||4. Binghamton*|
|Gainesville, FL||Clemson, SC|
|1. (5) Florida^*||1. Clemson^|
|2. Central Florida||2. Vanderbilt|
|3. Louisiana Tech||3. Connecticut|
|4. Bethune-Cookman*||4. Winthrop*|
|Fort Worth||Starkville, MS|
|1. (6) Texas Christian^*||1. Mississippi State^|
|2. Houston||2. Missouri State*|
|3. UCLA||3. Florida State|
|4. New Mexico State*||4. Rhode Island*|
|Lexington, KY||Charlottesville, VA|
|1. (7) Kentucky^||1. Virginia^|
|2. West Virginia||2. South Florida*|
|3. North Carolina State||3. Old Dominion|
|4. Illinois-Chicago*||4. Kent State*|
|Stanford, CA||Baton Rouge, LA|
|1. (8) Stanford^||1. Louisiana State^|
|2. Michigan||2. Nebraska*|
|3. Kansas||3. Southeastern Louisiana|
|4. Bryant*||4. Yale*|
|*-Automatic bid; ^-Regional host|
Last four in: Kansas, UCLA, Florida State, North Carolina State
First four out: Louisiana-Lafayette, South Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Utah
Next four out: Dallas Baptist, Loyola Marymount, Washington, St. Mary’s
New hosts: Oklahoma
New Auto Bids: Holy Cross (Patriot), Illinois-Chicago (Horizon), UNC Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (Big South)
New At-Large Bids: Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina State
Dropped Out: Dallas Baptist, South Carolina, Washington
7: Big 12, ACC
4: AAC, Big Ten, Pac-12
3: Conference USA
2: Big West, Southland
1: A-10, A-Sun, America East, Big East, Big South, Colonial, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Summit, Sun Belt, SWAC, WAC, WCC