2021 NCAA Baseball Tournament Projected Field Of 64 (5/5/21)
May’s arrival means college baseball has reached its stretch run. Selection Monday is less than four weeks away and time is running short for any team to make a move to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume.
That is especially true for the contenders to host regionals. 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 a shortlist of potential 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 this weekend is vital for candidates on the hosting bubble.
The hosting bubble has changed shape over the last week. Mississippi last weekend pulled itself off the bubble with a sweep of South Carolina, which, in turn, has fallen to the bubble. Florida’s series win against Vanderbilt lifted the Gators back in contention. Texas Tech improved its position with a series win at Texas. Stanford and Oregon took hits to their RPI a week ago due to some tough losses but remain in contention. East Carolina has fallen out of first place in the American Athletic Conference and if it isn’t able to reclaim that spot in this weekend’s showdown against Tulane, the Pirates’ hosting chances will be in jeopardy.
Most vexing, however, is the ACC’s position in the hosting race. Notre Dame leads the conference and is in excellent shape to host regionals for the first time since 2001. Beyond that, little can be said with certainty.
Louisville last weekend was swept at Clemson, a result that dropped its RPI and opened a gap between it and Notre Dame at the top of the conference. The Cardinals already had an abnormal host resume and lost any margin for error. But the ACC ranks third in conference RPI and only having one host from its ranks seems unlikely. In this projection, Louisville still gets the hosting nod over Pittsburgh (which is coming off a two-week layoff due to Covid-19 issues) and Florida State (which has a worse RPI, lost a series at Louisville and is a game behind in the standings).
While it was a bad week for teams on the host bubble, it was a good one for teams on the tournament bubble. With its sweep of Louisville, Clemson now appears to be solidly in the field. Indiana took over first place in the Big Ten with a series win against Iowa. Virginia won a series at Virginia Tech. Georgia Southern won a series against South Alabama (though the Eagles still trail the Jaguars in the Sun Belt standings). Tulane passed East Carolina for first place in the American. San Diego lost an opportunity to make a statement when its series against Gonzaga was canceled due to Covid issues for the Zags, but the Toreros swept Pepperdine. Rutgers, Maryland and Ohio State all won series to stay in the mix in the Big Ten.
Once the field of host site contenders is narrowed next week, there will be plenty of time to dive into the NCAA Tournament bubble. But, for the first time all season, it feels like the bubble tightened.
There are sure to be many more twists and turns on the way to Selection Monday. Baseball America will continue to update the projected field weekly throughout the spring.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|1. (1) Arkansas^*||1. (16) Charlotte^|
|2. Nebraska||2. South Carolina|
|3. Fairfield*||3. Miami|
|4. Lehigh*||4. Connecticut*|
|Fort Worth, Texas||Louisville|
|1. (2) Texas Christian ^*||1. (15) Louisville^|
|2. Oregon State||2. Indiana*|
|3. Dallas Baptist*||3. Indiana State|
|4. Oral Roberts*||4. Wright State*|
|1. (3) Vanderbilt^||1. (14) Texas Tech^|
|2. Clemson||2. Stanford|
|3. Iowa||3. Alabama|
|4. Bryant*||4. Northeastern*|
|Tucson, Ariz.||Gainesville, Fla.|
|1. (4) Arizona^*||1. (13) Florida^|
|2. UC Irvine*||2. Florida State|
|3. Oklahoma State||3. Virginia Commonwealth*|
|4. Grand Canyon*||4. Florida A&M*|
|Starkville, Miss.||Ruston, La.|
|1. (5) Mississippi State^||1. (12) Louisiana Tech^*|
|2. North Carolina State||2. Pittsburgh|
|3. Liberty*||3. Tulane|
|4. Jackson State*||4. South Alabama*|
|South Bend, Ind.||Eugene, Ore.|
|1. (6) Notre Dame ^*||1. (11) Oregon^|
|2. Michigan||2. Gonzaga*|
|3. Arizona State||3. Baylor|
|4. Ball State*||4. Nevada*|
|Knoxville, Tenn.||Greenville, N.C.|
|1. (7) Tennessee^||1. (10) East Carolina^*|
|2. Virginia Tech||2. Old Dominion|
|3. South Carolina-Upstate*||3. Georgia|
|4. Southeast Missouri State*||4. Wofford*|
|1. (8) Texas^||1. (9) Mississippi^|
|2. UCLA||2. Southern Mississippi|
|3. UC Santa Barbara||3. Georgia Tech|
|4. Stony Brook*||4. New Orleans*|
^ Denotes host school
* Denotes automatic qualifier
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