2021 NCAA Baseball Tournament Projected Field Of 64 (4/7/21)
College baseball is about halfway through its regular season and has largely successfully navigated playing during a pandemic.
There’s still a long way to go, but it’s not too early to start breaking down the postseason picture. Baseball America is updating the Projected Field of 64 weekly throughout the spring.
In the last week, the NCAA has decided on a slightly altered postseason structure for 2021. Instead of awarding the 16 host sites on the eve of Selection Monday, chosen based on the merits of the season, the selection committee will instead pick the host sites a few weeks in advance of the rest of the field. 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.
Other sports have seen significant alterations to their postseason structures – the basketball tournaments were moved to a bubble and the early rounds of the soccer tournaments were moved from campus sites to all be played entirely in North Carolina to minimize travel and eliminate disparity in local regulations – so baseball is not alone in the changes. Still, that won’t make any programs or fan bases that miss out on hosting a regional because they got hot down the stretch, after the sites had already been decided, feel any better.
Because of the unique hosting arrangement and the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and local regulations regarding crowd size and travel, it is too early to change the way we’re projecting bids to be awarded. Schools that aren’t allowing fans wouldn’t be able to make any money off hosting a regional, but, for now, any speculation about who will and won’t put in a bid is just that. Until we can report that a school is passing on the biding process, we will continue to assume every team in the mix will submit a bid later this month.
In this week’s update, there are two new hosts as Oregon and Texas Christian join the group. The ACC may be particularly affected by the change in the bid process for hosts as many of its teams are bunching together in the standings. In such an unusual year, we had expected the standings to be a key data point in the hosting race. But now there will be fewer weeks – and no conference tournament – to allow teams to separate. There are three ACC teams projected to host in this update, but that number could be one or two higher. There are several teams from the conference that remain in the mix.
There are 10 SEC teams projected in this Field of 64, which would tie a record. Right now, however, the projections don’t line up with the standings. There is still quite a good deal of emphasis on projection at this stage. For instance, Louisiana State, which is an unsightly 1-8 in conference play, hangs on by a thread in this update ahead of Kentucky, which is 5-4. Conveniently, those teams play each other this weekend and if the Wildcats can secure a series win, on the heels of a win Tuesday against Louisville, they’ll move into the field.
The ACC only has nine bids in this projection, its lowest total of the season. The conference has found some measure of delineation halfway through its 12-week conference season. The nine teams that are projected in are the nine teams .500 or better in ACC play. The other five – Boston College, Duke, North Carolina State, Virginia and Wake Forest – are all 5-9 or worse and only BC has a winning record overall. This season, the NCAA waived the requirement that a team have a winning record to be eligible for an at-large bid, but a combination of a losing record overall and a well below .500 conference record is not a good spot to be in. One of those five teams may well rebound in the second half and they’re all talented enough to do so, but, for now, they’re all on the outside looking in.
Baseball America will continue to update the projected field weekly throughout the spring.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|Fayetteville, Ark.||Eugene, Ore.|
|1. (1) Arkansas^*||1. (16) Oregon^|
|2. Nebraska||2. Oklahoma State|
|3. Wichita State||3. Gonzaga|
|4. North Dakota State*||4. Sacramento State*|
|1. (2) Vanderbilt^||1. (15) Virginia Tech^|
|2. Stanford||2. Michigan*|
|3. UC Santa Barbara||3. Old Dominion|
|4. Bryant*||4. Connecticut*|
|Oxford, Miss.||Fort Worth, Texas|
|1. (3) Mississippi^||1. (14) Texas Christian^|
|2. Southern Mississippi||2. Oregon State|
|3. Southeastern Louisiana*||3. Dallas Baptist|
|4. Jackson State*||4. Stony Brook*|
|1. (4) Louisville^*||1. (13) Florida^|
|2. Georgia||2. Miami|
|3. UC Irvine*||3. Stetson*|
|4. Murray State*||4. Fordham*|
|Austin, Texas||Columbia, S.C.|
|1. (5) Texas^*||1. (12) South Carolina^|
|2. UCLA||2. Georgia Tech|
|3. Clemson||3. Charlotte|
|4. Army*||4. South Carolina-Upstate*|
|Starkville, Miss.||Lubbock, Texas|
|1. (6) Mississippi State^||1. (11) Texas Tech^|
|2. Louisiana Tech*||2. Florida State|
|3. Louisiana-Lafayette*||3. Arizona State|
|4. Samford*||4. Northeastern*|
|Greenville, N.C.||Tucson, Ariz.|
|1. (7) East Carolina^*||1. (10) Arizona^*|
|2. North Carolina||2. San Diego State*|
|3. Alabama||3. San Diego*|
|4. North Carolina A&T*||4. Fairfield*|
|South Bend, Ind.||Knoxville, Tenn.|
|1. (8) Notre Dame^||1. (9) Tennessee^|
|2. Indiana State*||2. Pittsburgh|
|3. Louisiana State||3. Ohio State|
|4. Wright State*||4. Ball State*|
^ Denotes host school
* Denotes automatic qualifier
College Podcast: Previewing Week 14 Around College Baseball
Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy preview the 14th weekend of action around college baseball.
Last Four In
UC Santa Barbara
First Four Out
Next Four Out
Florida Gulf Coast