2021 Preseason Projected Field of 64
College baseball season has nearly arrived. Opening Day is a little more than a week away and around the country teams are getting ready to start on the Road to Omaha.
The crystal ball is murkier than normal this year because of the general uncertainty around college baseball. The Big Ten has yet to announce a schedule format. The Ivy League has yet to determine if it will play spring sports in 2021. No one can know how schedules around the country will be affected by the coronavirus, but every American sport that has played a season outside a bubble has seen games canceled. College baseball is unlikely to be any different.
In such a strange season, RPI, one of the key metrics used by the selection committee, will not function normally. Computer metrics will be unable to judge Big Ten teams and any others that play conference-only schedules. Fewer non-conference games overall will mean less accurate measurements. That could lead the committee to lean more heavily on its regional advisory committees, which are made up of coaches who are responsible for ranking teams in their area. But with coaches getting less opportunities to see teams in non-conference settings, even those will be adversely affected.
The selection committee has a challenging job every year, but 2021 will be a challenge unlike any they have ever taken on. Unique circumstances will yield unique results – a sentiment reflected in this projection.
No conference has ever received more than 10 NCAA Tournament bids in a single season. Here, both the ACC and SEC are projected to break that record. Two leagues combining for more than 20 bids would be a significant departure from the way the field has been composed in the past. But with more talent in college baseball than ever before, the best conferences in the country have even more talent and depth. And in a year where mid-major teams will get fewer chances to prove themselves and other conferences will be more affected by changes due to the pandemic, the ACC and SEC stand to benefit.
This, however, is just a starting point. Much will change between Feb. 19 and Memorial Day when the NCAA Tournament field is officially announced. Baseball America will update the Projected Field of 64 weekly throughout the spring.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|Gainesville, Fla.||Durham, N.C.|
|1. (1) Florida*^||1. (16) Duke^|
|2. Oklahoma State||2. South Carolina|
|3. Stetson*||3. Coastal Carolina*|
|4. Alabama State*||4. Winthrop*|
|Los Angeles||Tucson, Ariz.|
|1. (2) UCLA*^||1. (15) Arizona^|
|2. Pepperdine*||2. UC Santa Barbara*|
|3. Long Beach State||3. San Diego State*|
|4. Yale*||4. Sacramento State*|
|Lubbock, Texas||Fayetteville, Ark.|
|1. (3) Texas Tech*^||1. (14) Arkansas^|
|2. Auburn||2. Oklahoma|
|3. Boston College||3. Wake Forest|
|4. Fairfield*||4. Nebraska-Omaha*|
|Oxford, Miss.||Fort Worth|
|1. (4) Mississippi^||1. (13) TCU^|
|2. Clemson||2. N.C. State|
|3. UNC Wilmington*||3. Dallas Baptist*|
|4. North Carolina AT&T*||4. Army*|
|1. (5) Virginia*^||1. (12) Texas^|
|2. Arizona State||2. Michigan*|
|3. Maryland||3. Texas A&M|
|4. VCU*||4. Hartford*|
|Nashville||Coral Gables, Fla.|
|1. (6) Vanderbilt^||1. (11) Miami^|
|2. Indiana||2. Central Florida*|
|3. Notre Dame||3. Georgia|
|4. Kent State*||4. Bryant*|
|Louisville||Baton Rouge, La.|
|1. (7) Louisville^||1. (10) LSU^|
|2. Tennessee||2. Georgia Tech|
|3. Connecticut*||3. Tulane|
|4. Wright State*||4. McNeese State*|
|Starkville, Miss.||Tallahassee, Fla.|
|1. (8) Mississippi State^||1. (9) Florida State^|
|2. East Carolina||2. Alabama|
|3. Southern Mississippi*||3. Ohio State|
|4. Jacksonville State*||4. Samford*|
* denotes automatic bid
^ denotes regional host
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