College Baseball Projected Field Of 64 (5/9/18)
In two weeks, conference tournaments will be underway around the country. Selection Monday is less than three weeks away.
As college baseball comes down the home stretch, Baseball America presents our latest Field of 64 projection, as we will every week for the remainder of the season.
The hosting and top-eight seed race have, if anything, become more confused over the last couple weeks. Florida, Stanford, North Carolina and Clemson seem to have solidified their status as top-eight seeds. Georgia and Oregon State are close to doing so, but both face difficult finishes to the regular season.
The Southeastern Conference West Division is sure to produce at least one top-eight seed, but the trio of Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi are all flawed. Ole Miss’s RPI is outside the top 10, Arkansas is just 6-12 away from Baum Stadium and Auburn lost a series to Arkansas and this weekend plays at Ole Miss. In this projection, we opted for Arkansas and Ole Miss. If the Razorbacks hold on to first place in the division, they will probably have finished the season with a series win at Georgia. The combination of that series win and the division title should overcome a poor road record. The Rebels would gain an edge on the Tigers with a series win this weekend.
Florida State, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are all in the mix as well. All would need very strong finishing kicks, however.
This week’s projection also includes four new hosts, as Auburn, East Carolina, Minnesota and Texas all move onto the host line. Auburn is in the best position of the group, but all will need strong finishes to remain as hosts. ECU must win its final two series to stay near the top of the American Athletic Conference, and Texas must do the same when it returns from its finals break to hold its position in the Big 12 Conference. Minnesota has excelled through a tough Big Ten Conference slate and moved into first place last weekend but isn’t home yet and can’t let up down the stretch.
Several teams remain in the hosting race if anyone slips up in the next few weeks. Duke needs a series win this weekend against North Carolina to stay in the mix and does get the Tar Heels at home. UCLA slipped up last weekend at Arizona but can atone for that on final weekend of the regular season when it travels to Oregon State. Stetson has climbed to No. 12 in RPI, but without a standout nonconference slate, it may need to claim both the Atlantic Sun Conference’s regular season and tournament title to host. Coastal Carolina is in a similar spot in the Sun Belt Conference after dropping to No. 28 in the RPI after a series loss last weekend. Connecticut and South Florida are both in the mix and if either can claim an AAC title, they would skip past ECU.
This week’s projection includes 11 SEC teams, which would set a record for the most bids for one conference. The previous high is 10, which has happened twice (2014 SEC and 2016 ACC). Five of the 11 SEC teams in the field are either 12-12 or 11-13 in conference play this season, meaning there is little margin for error over the next two weekends. But getting to 14 SEC wins may be enough to garner a bid this season, as all 11 teams in the field have strong metrics and marquee series wins.
Two of the trickiest teams to figure out in the field are Houston and Michigan. Both are in first place in their respective leagues, which gives them a boost into the field. But both teams face must-win series this weekend – Houston at Connecticut and Michigan against Illinois.
It is also important to remember that this season the way the Field of 64 is constructed has changed. No longer does the selection committee choose eight national seeds and then pair them with another host side based primarily on geography. Instead, they will seed all 16 host sites and pair the regionals accordingly. That means No. 1 seeds from the same conference can be paired together for super regionals, as is the case in this projection with the 8 vs. 9 matchup of Mississippi and Auburn.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|Gainesville, FL||Greenville, NC|
|1. (1) Florida^*||1. (16) East Carolina^|
|2. Jacksonville||2. Duke|
|3. Florida Atlantic||3. Oklahoma|
|4. Hartford*||4. Kent State*|
|Stanford, CA||Stillwater, OK|
|1. (2) Stanford^*||1. (15) Oklahoma State^*|
|2. Northeastern*||2. UCLA|
|3. Michigan||3. Louisiana State|
|4. Grand Canyon*||4. San Diego State*|
|Chapel Hill, NC||Austin, TX|
|1. (3) North Carolina^*||1. (14) Texas^|
|2. Ohio State||2. Texas A&M|
|3. Missouri State||3. St. John's*|
|4. North Carolina A&T*||4. Sam Houston State*|
|Clemson, SC||Raleigh, NC|
|1. (4) Clemson^||1. (13) North Carolina State^|
|2. South Carolina||2. Coastal Carolina*|
|3. UNC Greensboro*||3. Vanderbilt|
|4. Canisius*||4. Campbell*|
|Fayetteville, AR||Minneapolis, MN|
|1. (5) Arkansas^||1. (12) Minnesota^*|
|2. Central Florida||2. Stetson*|
|3. Baylor||3. Louisville|
|4. Oral Roberts*||4. Wright State*|
|Corvallis, OR||Lubbock, TX|
|1. (6) Oregon State^||1. (11) Texas Tech^|
|2. Kentucky||2. Connecticut|
|3. Cal State Fullerton*||3. Arizona|
|4. Pepperdine*||4. Wagner*|
|Athens, GA||Tallahassee, FL|
|1. (7) Georgia^||1. (10) Florida State^|
|2. Indiana||2. South Florida|
|3. Houston*||3. Mississippi State|
|4. Alabama State*||4. Saint Louis*|
|Oxford, MS||Auburn, AL|
|1. (8) Mississippi^||1. (9) Auburn^|
|2. Tennessee Tech*||2. Southern Mississippi*|
|3. Iowa||3. Dallas Baptist*|
|4. Yale*||4. Navy*|
|*-Automatic bid; ^-Regional host|
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