2021 NCAA Baseball Tournament Projected Field Of 64 (4/28/21)
Selection Monday is little more than a month away. As college baseball approaches its stretch run, the postseason picture will become clearer and clearer. But, for now, there is still a lot of prognostication needed to produce a Projected Field of 64.
In this unique season, as college baseball plays through a pandemic, the NCAA has adjusted the host site selection. Instead of selecting the regional hosts the day before the Field of 64 is announced on Memorial Day, it will select the 16 hosts the week of May 10 – a few weeks in advance of Selection Monday. The changes are a result of the need to create a testing site at each regional, which can’t be done with just a few days of lead time. That accelerated timeline means potential hosts have just a couple more weeks to impress the committee.
In this week’s update, two host site changes, as Charlotte and Stanford move up to the host line, replacing Texas Tech and Virginia Tech. The 49ers last weekend won the first half of their two-week, home-and-home showdown against Old Dominion with Conference USA’s East Division on the line. Charlotte is up to 11 in RPI and if it can repeat last weekend’s performance in Norfolk or at least split the four games, it will be in excellent position to host. Stanford, meanwhile, missed last week due to Covid-19 protocols but is slated to return to action Wednesday, remains near the top of the Pac-12 standings and – with four road games and a series against Arizona before the host sites are selected – a real chance to boost its already solid RPI (No. 22)
Several other contenders are coming off tough weeks. Louisiana Tech, Charlotte’s CUSA rival, split a four-game series against last-place Marshall and saw its RPI plummet to 26. The Bulldogs remain a host in this projection, but they have no more margin for error. La Tech’s next eight games are on the road against Middle Tennessee State and Florida International and it must win both series.
Pittsburgh, like Stanford, last weekend had its series canceled due to Covid-19 issues within its program. The Panthers are ahead of Stanford in RPI, but unlike the Cardinal, they will not return to the field this week. If they are ready to do so next week, they’ll be coming off a two-week layoff and just have games against West Virginia and Boston College before host sites are selected. Pitt is definitely still in the mix, but it will need to hit the ground running in its return.
Virginia Tech was swept at North Carolina State, its second straight series loss. The Hokies RPI has slipped to 36, which is well outside the typical host range, but because the ACC’s RPI’s overall are depressed this season by playing fewer non-conference games, that isn’t necessarily a deal breaker – Louisville remains on the host line with a similar RPI. But Virginia Tech is no longer leading the Coastal Division and is just 4-6 in its last 10 games. The Hokies fall off the host line in this projection.
Another team that figures to be in the hosting mix is Nebraska, which last weekend pushed its lead in the Big Ten to 1.5 games. Its RPI is 50 – which in a normal year wouldn’t be good enough, but with the Big Ten playing a conference-only schedule, RPI can’t properly evaluate its teams. So, what does a Big Ten host look like? Is a 1.5 game separation at the top enough? It’s impossible to say. The next two weeks are big ones for the Cornhuskers, however, as they look to impress the committee.
The NCAA Tournament bubble remains weak at this stage of the season, but some major conference teams got big results last weekend to bolster their resumes. NC State’s sweep was the most significant, and the Wolfpack are back in the projected field. Clemson got a needed sweep of Wake Forest, Kentucky won its must-win series against Alabama and Louisiana State’s series win at Ole Miss breathed new life into its postseason chances. Baylor’s series win at Texas Tech also went a long way to solidifying its postseason status.
While the field is starting to become more defined, there’s still a long way to go. Baseball America will continue to update the projected field weekly throughout the spring.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|Fayetteville, Ark.||Ruston, La.|
|1. (1) Arkansas^*||1. (16) Louisiana Tech^*|
|2. Oklahoma State||2. Florida State|
|3. Dallas Baptist*||3. Alabama|
|4. Florida A&M*||4. New Orleans*|
|1. (2) Vanderbilt^||1. (15) Stanford^|
|2. Indiana State||2. Texas Tech|
|3. Fairfield*||3. UC Santa Barbara|
|4. Lehigh*||4. Sacramento State*|
|1. (3) Texas^*||1. (14) Mississippi^|
|2. Florida||2. Southern Mississippi|
|3. Tulane||3. Georgia Tech|
|4. Oral Roberts*||4. Connecticut*|
|Tucson, Ariz.||Columbia, S.C.|
|1. (4) Arizona^*||1. (13) South Carolina^|
|2. UC Irvine*||2. Pittsburgh|
|3. San Diego||3. Liberty*|
|4. Bryant*||4. Western Carolina*|
|1. (5) Louisville^*||1. (12) Charlotte^|
|2. Nebraska*||2. Georgia|
|3. Arizona State||3. North Carolina State|
|4. Stony Brook*||4. Northeastern*|
|Fort Worth, Texas||Eugene, Ore.|
|1. (6) Texas Christian^||1. (11) Oregon^|
|2. Oregon State||2. Gonzaga*|
|3. Iowa||3. Baylor|
|4. Southeast Missouri State*||4. San Diego State*|
|Knoxville, Tenn.||South Bend, Ind.|
|1. (7) Tennessee^||1. (10) Notre Dame^|
|2. Virginia Tech||2. Michigan|
|3. South Carolina-Upstate*||3. UCLA|
|4. Ball State*||4. Wright State*|
|Starkville, Miss.||Greenville, N.C.|
|1. (8) Mississippi State^||1. (9) East Carolina^*|
|2. Miami||2. Old Dominion|
|3. South Alabama*||3. North Carolina|
|4. Jackson State*||4. Rhode Island*|
^ Denotes host school
* Denotes automatic qualifier
Sources: Notre Dame Targeting Paul Mainieri In Coaching Search
Multiple sources told Baseball America that Paul Mainieri has emerged as an initial target to replace Link Jarrett as coach at Notre Dame.
Last Four In
UC Santa Barbara
First Four Out
Florida Gulf Coast
Next Four Out