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2023 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch

We’ve made it to conference tournament week. There are just a few days left until Selection Monday and already the NCAA Tournament field is taking shape.

Until the selections are announced, we’ll be tracking the development of the Field of 64 and, most importantly, what every team needs to do to secure an at-large bid.

For these purposes, we’ll sort teams that are in at-large contention into three groups:

1) Locks. Reserved for teams that could lose out and still make the NCAA Tournament. That’s a bit nit-picky, but when we say lock, we mean it.

2) Should be in. Generally, a team that would be solidly in if the field was selected today.

3) Work to do. Nothing is guaranteed for these teams.

Throughout the week, this post will be updated regularly. Records are updated as often as the post is, RPI and schedule strengths are updated daily when the official NCAA numbers refresh. Keep this page bookmarked so you can check in all week.


After the first two days of the ACC Tournament, there’s not much bubble guesswork in the ACC. Boston College, Duke and North Carolina have joined the locks since last week. Meanwhile, on the other end, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have fallen out of the race.

The bubble game to watch Thursday was North Carolina State taking on Miami.

Lock: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest
Should be in: None
Work to do: North Carolina State, Notre Dame

North Carolina State (35-19, 13-16; RPI: 23; SOS: 19): No one in the ACC knows better about how tight the bubble can get than NC State, which last year was snubbed at 14-15 in conference play despite an RPI of 33 and a run to the ACC Tournament championship game. So, the Wolfpack know they need to keep winning. They won four straight before losing Thursday against Miami in the ACC Tournament, a loss that eliminated the Wolfpack. With a top-25 RPI, NC State has a chance to overcome its losing conference record, but it'll be a nervy weekend.

Notre Dame (30-23, 15-15; RPI: 55; SOS: 65): The Fighting Irish are straddling the bubble after losing their ACC Tournament opener against Pittsburgh. While Notre Dame finished the regular season with a .500 ACC record, the official selection committee metrics include conference tournament results as conference games. That means that Notre Dame will have a losing conference record unless it beats Wake Forest on Friday. How much does that matter? It's hard to say. Typically, major conference teams are helped more than they're hurt by conference tournaments. But when it comes time to split hairs, if Notre Dame is 15-17 against ACC opponents, has an RPI hovering around 50 and an unsightly non-conference strength of schedule (288), it's not done itself any favors. A win against Wake Forest would go a long way to pushing the Irish into the field, but even then they're likely looking at a nervous weekend.

Big 12

The Big 12’s tightly packed conference standings made for an exciting finish, as Oklahoma State, Texas and West Virginia all tied for first place. It also left the conference with several bubbly teams going into this week’s Big 12 Tournament in Arlington, Texas.

Thursday's elimination games were both important. First, Texas took on Kansas State in a game the Wildcats needed for bubble purposes and the Longhorns needed for hosting purposes. Then, Oklahoma and West Virginia faced off with the loser effectively eliminated from the hosting race.

Locks: Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia
Should be in: None
Work to do: Kansas State, Oklahoma

Kansas State (34-23, 13-11; RPI: 54; SOS: 46): We’ve spent the last couple weeks considering Kansas State as a likely regional team. But is that the right read? The Wildcats have lost five of their last seven, still don’t have a top-50 RPI, fell to fifth in the Big 12 standings and lost their Big 12 Tournament opener. They did rebound nicely to shut out Texas in an elimination game, which was critical. The positives are a winning conference record, a 12-13 record vs. top-50 opponents, series wins against Texas Tech and UC Irvine and a 2-2 mark against the Longhorns. But is K-State just this year’s West Virginia, which last year got left out of the NCAA Tournament with an RPI of 49 and a 14-12 conference record? The resumes aren’t perfectly symmetrical, and each year is different, but if the bubble tightens, K-State may find itself in hotter water than is comfortable.

Oklahoma (31-25, 11-13; RPI: 40; SOS: 14): Oklahoma has played itself into the tournament conversation and it has strong metrics in its favor. Those numbers only can help it so much, however. It needs something this week in Arlington. It got off to a strong start with a win against rival Oklahoma State but on Thursday fell into the loser's bracket when it gave up three runs in the ninth to get walked off against Texas Tech. The Sooners' 12-12 mark against top-50 opponents stack up favorably against most other bubble teams, but they've also taken some bad losses.

Big Ten

After holding off last week, we’ll now lock up Indiana and Maryland. The Terrapins are clearly the best team in the conference, having won the title and not lost a conference series in more than two years. Indiana finished in second place and has a top-30 RPI to go with a 40-win season. The Hoosiers are safe.

Even without many bubble teams in the mix, the Big Ten Tournament is still one to keep an eye on. The last two tournaments produced upset winners that burst someone’s bubble. If any team but Indiana, Iowa or Maryland wins this week in Omaha, a bubble would burst again this year.

Locks: Indiana, Iowa, Maryland
Should be in: None
Work to do: None


Like the other major conferences, there isn’t a lot of drama in the Pac-12. Oregon State, Stanford and Washington are locked up. Oregon and Southern California look solid. UCLA has fallen off the bubble and though Arizona has done well to push its RPI to 51, it’s still working to overcome a losing conference record—something no Pac-12 team has done since the conference expanded.

Arizona State's game against Oregon State was the Thursday game with the most bubble implications in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Locks: Oregon State, Stanford, Washington
Should be in: Oregon, Southern California
Work to do: Arizona State

Arizona State (32-23, 16-13; RPI: 48; SOS: 36): The Sun Devils last weekend got a critical series win against UCLA and split their two pool-play games at the Pac-12 Tournament, getting blown out by Arizona and then beating Oregon State. They've lost 11 of their last 15 games, which has pushed them to the bubble. ASU's conference record is solid, and it finished fifth in the standings, but its resume is a bit lacking. The Sun Devils are 8-14 against top-50 competition and have a losing record on the road (8-13). They've been eliminated from the Pac-12 Tournament and begin a weekend of bubble watching.

Oregon (34-20, 16-14; RPI: 37; SOS: 24): After a tough stretch that saw the Ducks lose seven of eight games, they’ve rebounded over the last week to win three of their last four games. With a winning conference record and a top-40 RPI, Oregon can consider itself safe after advancing to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

Southern California (34-23-1, 17-13; RPI: 52; SOS: 44): The Trojans last weekend lost their series at Arizona but got a pivotal win in the finale. No Pac-10/12 team in the super regional era (starting in 1999) has been left out of the NCAA Tournament with at least 17 conference wins. For good measure, USC beat UCLA on Tuesday in its Pac-12 Tournament opener. There are still clear issues with the Trojans’ resume—their non-conference strength of schedule is low (165), they’re 8-15-1 against top-50 competition and they’re 7-15-1 on the road. But USC is also in fourth place in the conference and has several series wins against other Pac-12 contenders. The Trojans look like they’ll make their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2015.


Remarkably strong RPI numbers and conference records throughout the SEC has the intrigue for the conference wrapped up in the hosting and top-eight seed races. In fact, after Tuesday’s first round of the SEC Tournament, the conference seems all but locked into 10 bids.

Losses by Georgia and Missouri on Tuesday dashed their already slim hopes and a win for Texas A&M shored up the team’s lone bubbly team. Bubble watchers can turn their attention elsewhere the rest of the week.

Locks: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Should be in: Texas A&M
Work to do: None

Texas A&M (34-24, 14-16; RPI: 32; SOS: 12): The Aggies last weekend won a critical series at Mississippi State to push their conference record to 14-16. Their resume was still a bit bubbly going into the SEC Tournament opener against Tennessee. A&M won that game, 3-0, and now looks to be squared away. Fourteen regular season SEC wins and an RPI that’s going to be around 35, no matter how the rest of the week goes, is a solid combination.

Jacob Walsh Courtesyoregon

2023 College Baseball Conference Tournament Roundup (May 27)

Here's a look at what happened in college baseball conference tournaments on Saturday.

Sun Belt

The Sun Belt this year has emerged as a high-level baseball conference, as was expected when it added James Madison, Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Miss. It ranks fifth in conference RPI and is positioned to be rewarded on Selection Monday with multiple at-large opportunities.

Locks: Coastal Carolina, Southern Miss
Should be in: Troy
Work to do: Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas State

Louisiana-Lafayette (37-20, 18-12; RPI: 61; SOS: 87): The Ragin’ Cajuns started the Sun Belt Tournament with an important win against Texas State. They are now 4-0 agains the Bobcats on the season and have pushed ahead in the Sun Belt pecking order, despite still trailing Texas State in RPI. Louisiana lost to Coastal Carolina on Thursday but has a chance to earn a win Friday against Texas State.

Texas State (36-22, 17-13; RPI: 55; SOS: 69): The Bobcats’ hopes have taken a hit over the last few weeks. They’re 3-6 in that stretch and have lost four times to Louisiana. Everything about the Bobcats’ resume screams bubble and that’s probably not good enough when you consider that the bubble will inevitably shrink over the course of the week. Texas State on Thursday beat Georgia State in an elimination game, breathing some life into its tournament hopes. It needs to keep winning.

Troy (39-19, 18-12; RPI: 34; SOS: 54): The Trojans last weekend got a series win against Appalachian State and are in a very strong position going into the Sun Belt Tournament. Troy won its opener Wednesday against Appalachian State, 10-9, in 10 innings, and should be all set.


There are several impressive teams outside college baseball’s biggest leagues and there’s a reasonable chance there’s a regional host from one of these teams.

No new teams from this group join the locks this week and conference tournament week is typically not a kind one to teams from these conferences. Either the postseason contenders win the automatic bid or they take two losses, at least one of which is likely to be a bad RPI loss. For bubbly teams, one or two bad RPI losses at this stage of the season can be enough to knock a team out of the field.

The conference to watch is the Colonial Athletic Association, which has multiple teams in the mix and enough teams with solid RPIs to give them a chance to improve their resumes.

Locks: Campbell, Connecticut, Dallas Baptist, East Carolina, Indiana State
Should be in: Northeastern, UC Santa Barbara  
Work to do: Cal State Fullerton, Elon, Kent State, UC Irvine, UNC Wilmington, Xavier

Cal State Fullerton (30-21, 18-9; RPI: 64; SOS: 58): The Titans have lost three straight series and eight of their last 11 games. That has thrown Fullerton’s NCAA Tournament and Big West title hopes into doubt. Its RPI has fallen out of a good range for an at-large team and its hopes now likely rest on it winning the conference’s automatic bid. The good news is that despite that skid, Fullerton holds a one-game edge on UCSB in the conference standings and it owns the tiebreaker (both trail UC San Diego, but the Tritons are ineligible for the postseason while they complete their transition from Division II). Fullerton finishes the regular season at Cal Poly and just needs to keep pace with UCSB, which is at Hawaii (although Cal State Northridge is also just a game back). Fullerton got the weekend off to a good start Thursday with a 9-4 victory.

Elon (32-21, 19-9; RPI: 60; SOS: 48): The Phoenix finished second in the Colonial Athletic Association standings and their RPI has edged back into the top 60. There are pieces to like there (6-7 vs. top 50, No. 25 non-conference strength of schedule) but its RPI is still too low. Elon lost its CAA Tournament opener against Northeastern and now needs to fight out of the loser's bracket.

Kent State (39-15, 24-6; RPI: 44, SOS: 176): The Golden Flashes last weekend swept Ball State to secure the Mid-American Conference title and home-field advantage in this week’s tournament. They have won 15 of their last 18 games and pushed their RPI into the top 50. A loss Thursday to Ball State didn't knock Kent State out of the top 50, which is a good sign, but whether the Golden Flashes can withstand another loss (which would eliminate them from the MAC Tournament) remains to be seen. For now, they'll try to fight out of the loser's bracket.

Northeastern (43-12, 20-10; RPI: 29; SOS: 152): The Huskies are looking good after beating Elon on Thursday in the CAA Tournament. Northeastern did slip to third in the CAA standings over the final few weeks and it has one of the worst strength of schedules of any team in the at-large discussion, and its non-conference mark (214) isn’t any better. That’s not a primary factor and being 7-0 against BC, UConn, Duke, Indiana State and Maryland helps cancel that out, particularly if it keeps its RPI in the top 30.

UC Irvine (36-17, 16-11; RPI: 43; SOS: 101): The Anteaters have done what they've needed to over the last week, first sweeping UC Davis and then on Thursday blowing out UC Riverside, 28-1. UCI has the best RPI in the Big West and some strong non-conference wins. Its positioning in the Big West standings (fifth) isn’t ideal, but it still has an opportunity this weekend to move up. The Anteaters need a sweep of UC Riverside to keep their RPI in a strong spot and improve their conference positioning.

UC Santa Barbara (35-17, 18-9; RPI: 50; SOS: 96): The Gauchos could be in the driver’s seat for the Big West automatic bid, except that they last weekend couldn’t finish off a sweep against Cal Poly and lost Thursday's series opener at Hawaii. That leaves UCSB a game behind Fullerton in the Big West standings (both trail UC San Diego, but the Tritons are ineligible for the postseason while they complete their reclassification from Division II) and the Titans hold the tiebreaker. Still, with a top-50 RPI, a good non-conference resume and their standing in the conference, the Gauchos are still on the right side of the bubble. They need to bounce back on Friday, however.

UNC Wilmington (32-21, 20-8; RPI: 53; SOS: 43): The Seahawks won the CAA title, finishing it off with a sweep of a good William & Mary team. UNCW has a chance to be this year’s Grand Canyon, but it needs to bump that RPI up just a little more. GCU last year got in with an RPI of 50 thanks in large part to its high-end wins (7-5 vs. top 50) and non-conference strength of schedule (17). UNCW is 6-10 vs. top-50 competition (although 0-7 vs. top 25) and its non-conference strength of schedule is 11. The Seahawks this week have to avoid bad losses, but with five of the six teams in the CAA Tournament ranking in the top 100 of RPI, they’ll have a chance to get the needed RPI help.

Xavier (36-22, 14-7; RPI: 46; SOS: 85): The Musketeers got a big win Thursday, taking down UConn to move on to the Big East Tournament championship game. Xavier is in the driver's seat, as it has a day off Friday and either Georgetown or UConn will need to beat it twice Saturday to win the tournament. Winning the automatic bid would clear up the whole bubble picture for the Musketeers and it might be necessary, because two losses would likely knock their RPI back out of the top 50 (particularly if they came against the Hoyas). But Thursday was a strong step for Xavier.

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