NCAA Baseball Tournament Bubble Watch (4/30/24)


Image credit: Ole Miss' Ethan Groff (Photo by Eddie Kelly/ProLook Photos)

As the calendar flips to May this week, it’s time to start bubble watch for the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

Over the next month, I’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, I’ll sort teams that are in at-large contention into three camps:

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

At this stage, the difference between “should be in” and “work to do” is somewhat nebulous. By the end of the month, it will matter much more.

In the conference records listed, I include any win against a conference team, whether it counts toward the conference standings or not because that is how the information is presented to the selection committee. So, for instance, Oklahoma State gets credit for a conference win for its mid-week victory against Oklahoma.

Buckle up and get ready for an exciting month as we push ever closer on the Road to Omaha.


We’ll start with Clemson and North Carolina, the two division leaders, as locks. They’re the only two teams in the conference with more than 15 conference wins, which is typically the threshold for ACC teams to make the tournament (though NC State did get in last year with 14 and Notre Dame got left out with 15). Much of the rest of the conference is already solidly positioned one way or the other. This is not the league to watch in May if you’re looking for bubble drama.

Locks: Clemson, North Carolina

Should be in: Duke, Florida State, NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest

Work to do: Georgia Tech, Louisville, Virginia Tech

Duke (30-14, 14-10; RPI: 19; SOS: 41): I could lock up Duke, but I’m going to hold to the threshold of 15 ACC wins. The Blue Devils don’t need to sweat this, however. They can be fully focused on the hosting race.

Florida State (34-9, 13-8; RPI: 6; SOS: 23): I could lock Florida State up, but I’m going to hold to the threshold of 15 ACC wins. The Seminoles are more on the track to being a top-eight seed than worrying about the bubble, however.

Georgia Tech (27-15, 11-10; RPI: 53; SOS: 91): The Yellow Jackets went 11-5 in April, including four series wins to play themselves to the bubble. But now things get tougher. Georgia Tech finishes at Clemson, home against Duke and at Florida State, with home games against Auburn and Mercer thrown in as well. Its underlying metrics are not great, especially its non-conference strength of schedule (241). That means I’d suggest Georgia Tech go 5-4 in its remaining ACC games (and win both midweek games) to feel secure. That’s a tall order against three of the best teams in the conference, especially with two of the series coming on the road.

Louisville (25-18, 10-11; RPI: 77; SOS: 51): The Cardinals treaded water through the toughest part of their league slate and now enter May in an interestingbut not advantageousposition. Louisville is going to be dinged for its awful non-conference schedule (270) if it ends up on the bubble and the surest way to avoid that is to go 6-3 in its remaining ACC games at Boston College, at North Carolina and home against Notre Dame.

It’s in RPI trouble right now as well, but its schedule is strong enough to not have to worry about that (it also has mid-week games at Vanderbilt and home against Northern Kentucky and Indiana). Get the six ACC wins they need, win the home midweek games, and the Cardinals will be in a much better spot in a few weeks. Louisville might still need an ACC Tournament win at the end of all that, but the path to regionals is relatively clear and straightforward.

NC State (25-16, 12-9; RPI: 21; 10): NC State is approaching lock status and has played its way to the hosting bubble. The Wolfpack have a tough finishing slate (at Florida State, at Virginia, Wake Forest), but just a couple wins in that stretch will get them in the tournament.

Virginia (33-12, 14-10; RPI: 15; SOS: 47): I could lock up Virginia, but I’m going to hold to the threshold of 15 ACC wins. The Cavaliers don’t need to sweat this, however. They can be fully focused on the hosting race.

Virginia Tech (27-14, 13-11; RPI: 37; SOS: 74): The Hokies exist somewhere on the line between “should be in” and “work to do”. On the one hand, they’ve banked 13 ACC wins and have a top-40 RPIstrong signs that they’re in the field today. On the other hand, they’ve lost four straight series and have a non-conference strength of schedule that’s north of 200 (255). That gives off 2023 Notre Dame vibes, and the Irish got left out of the field after going 15-15 in the ACC. Virginia Tech may need to split its final six conference games (Miami, at Virginia) to avoid a similar fate.

Wake Forest (27-16, 12-12; RPI: 16; SOS: 9): Wake doesn’t need to sweat the bubble. It’s strong metrics more than make up for its .500 ACC record and it can be fully focused on the hosting race. One, maybe two, more ACC wins will get the Demon Deacons in the tournament.

Big 12

I have come to love this year’s Big 12 and all of its weirdness.

That said, it makes for a complicated NCAA Tournament picture. I’ve locked up both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, as they’ve reached 15 Big 12 wins, are at the top of the standings and in the top 25 of RPI. Everything else in the conference is a bit messier.

Lock: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

Should be in: West Virginia

Work to do: Cincinnati, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, UCF

Cincinnati (25-19, 11-10; RPI: 69; SOS: 78): The Bearcats have played their way into the tournament conversation by winning three of their last four Big 12 series, including a sweep of TCU. The path forward is a tough one, however. They finish with home series against West Virginia and Oklahoma sandwiched around a trip to BYU. The Bearcats also face midweek games at Ohio State and Indiana and home against UConn. They probably need at least nine or 10 wins against that slate to get their RPI where it needs to be entering the Big 12 Tournament.

Kansas (25-15, 12-9; RPI: 64; SOS: 86): The Jayhawks are on a six-game winning streak, including a sweep of Texas Tech over the weekend, that has pushed them firmly into at-large contention. The job, however, is far from over. They finish with series at Kansas State and Texas sandwiched around a home series against Houston and face Wichita State and Nebraska-Omaha in midweek games. They’re light on quad 1 games and wins (2-1), though their road series give them an opportunity to remedy that. Getting their RPI into a comfortable range ahead of the Big 12 Tournament is probably isn’t going to happen, but they’re trending the right way right now, and that’s all they can control.

Kansas State (26-17, 10-11; RPI: 31; SOS: 24): The Wildcats were left on the outside of the bubble last year despite going 15-13 against Big 12 competition due to poor metrics. Coach Pete Hughes, to his credit, made some scheduling changes for this season that have dramatically improved K-State’s metrics. But now the Wildcats are fighting the opposite problema losing conference record. The good news is that a 5-4 finish against their remaining conference slate (and maybe even a 4-5 finish) Kansas, at West Virginia, BYUshould be good enough thanks to its strong RPI. Win the home series and the Wildcats should be well positioned to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.

Texas (27-18, 13-8; RPI: 58; SOS: 38): The Longhorns this weekend picked up a crucial series win at Oklahoma. That lifted their RPI into the top 60 and kept them in the mix at the top of the conference, just two games out of first place. The Longhorns are building one of the strangest NCAA Tournament resumes. Their 13-8 Big 12 record is strong and they’re 6-5 in quad 1 games. But with an RPI north of 50, they still have work left to do because they have eight quad 4 lossesmore than any other team in the top 100 of RPI.

According to, Texas needs to go 8-2 the rest of the way to push its RPI into the top 45 ahead of the Big 12 Tournament. That’s a tall task against its slate (Sam Houston State, Oklahoma State, at UCF, Kansas). Further complicating matters: KPI likes Texas a lot more than RPI, as it rates No. 29 in that system. Texas seems destined to be a very difficult evaluation for the selection committee but leaving out a team with 18+ Big 12 wins seems unlikely. That’s what I’d target for the Longhorns.

TCU (26-16, 10-14; RPI: 38; SOS: 37): The Horned Frogs present a very difficult situation for bracketologists. The selection committee has previously shown leniency to Big 12 teams with losing conference records, but it’s been several years since the Big 12 played 30 conference games. How will such a team be evaluated now? That’s the operative question for the Horned Frogs. With its solid RPI, I think TCU needs to target 14 regular-season conference wins.

It has seven Big 12 games left (at Baylor, a home midweek against Baylor, West Virginia). Go 4-3 in that stretch and it’ll be bubbly, but I’d think bubble-in ahead of the Big 12 Tournament. If the Frogs go 5-2, I think they can feel (cautiously) confident. TCU also needs to watch its positioning in the Big 12 standingsits currently 11th and only the top 10 make the cut. Missing your own conference tournament has previously been strongly held against teams by the selection committee and the Frogs would be wise not to test that this year.

Texas Tech (29-17, 12-12; RPI: 40; SOS: 46): In each of the last two seasons, Texas Tech has finished with an RPI in the 40s. It may be tracking that way again in 2024. The Red Raiders aren’t in any serious bubble trouble at this point but with just four games left this season at Griffin Park, where they are 21-4, they need to make hay this week. Tech has two Big 12 series left (Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State) and a split should be enough to make the tournament. Going 2-4 probably wouldn’t torpedo its chances, however.

UCF (26-15, 9-12; RPI: 32; SOS: 19): After a strong start to the season, UCF has trended in the wrong direction over the last few weeks. It’s 5-7 over the last three weeks, including two Big 12 series losses and a quad 4 loss to Central Michigan. The Knights have a strong RPI and some big winsthey own series wins against Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas Tech and Kansas Statebut they’ve fallen to ninth in the conference standings. Bottom line: They need to pull out of this funk.

Fourteen Big 12 wins might get it done with their current RPI, but would that keep it in the 30s? Going 6-3 over their final three conference series (at Houston, Texas, at Baylor) would be a lot safer. UCF also needs to watch its position in the Big 12 standings. It’s tied with Baylor for ninth and only the top 10 teams advance to Arlington. It probably can’t afford to miss the conference tournament.

Big Ten

The Big Ten has a big quandary. Outside of Nebraska, which is in solid shape, every team in at-large contention either has an RPI problem or a conference record problem. And that doesn’t even account for Michigan, which is a game out of first place, but has an RPI of 94, low enough that I’m not even including it among the contenders. The Big Ten hasn’t been a one-bid league since 2011 but that’s a realistic possibility this season, although I wouldn’t project it.

Should be in: Nebraska

Work to do: Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue

Indiana (25-18-1, 10-5; RPI: 71; SOS: 42): The Hoosiers are trending up right now but they’re paying the price for a poor March (and the final couple days of February), when they went 9-13, including four quad 4 losses. That’s created a real RPI issue for IU, which needs to be near perfect to get into the top 45 by the end of the regular season. Unfortunately, it faces a very difficult closing stretch (at Purdue, at Nebraska, Michigan, with midweek games against Cincinnati and at Louisville thrown in). I don’t know that there’s a magic number of wins to target at this point. The Hoosiers just need to win as many games as they can and finish as high in the standings as possible (they’re a game out of first place now). This weekend’s rivalry showdown looms large.

Illinois (25-15, 11-4; RPI: 66; SOS: 112): Illinois took a tough series loss at Maryland over the weekend, which pushed it out of the top 60 in RPI. The Illini are still tied for first place in the standings and have a pathway to a top-50 RPI. But it’s a difficult finishing stretch (Ohio State, Iowa, at Purdue, as well as a game against Indiana State) and Illinois is very light on notable wins (3-11 vs. quad 1 and quad 2). It doesn’t have a tournament resume today, but if it keeps making hay at home (15-1 at Illinois Field), it just may get there.

Maryland (28-17, 8-10; RPI: 39; SOS: 65): The Terrapins got a big series win against Illinois over the weekend but are still buried at ninth in the Big Ten standings, meaning that if the season ended today, they wouldn’t even make the conference tournament. Maryland must climb in the conference standings but only has two Big Ten series left (at Rutgers, Penn State). Both are must-win for the Terrapins. The rest of its resume is fine, but it can’t afford to have a losing conference record.

Nebraska (27-14, 10-5; RPI: 25; SOS: 26): The Cornhuskers are fine. They’re much closer to the hosting race than the bubble, though I don’t think hosting is going to be in the cards for them unless they run the table or come close to it.

Ohio State (20-20, 7-8; RPI: 65; SOS: 27): A week ago, I still had Ohio State in the field. But it went 1-3 last week, including two quad 4 losses. It’s not over for the Buckeyes, who probably have the best non-conference wins of any Big Ten team, but it’s not looking good. They need a strong finish but haven’t had a winning streak of more than four games this season.

Purdue (29-15, 11-4; RPI: 62; SOS: 102): The Boilermakers have won 10 straight Big Ten games to streak into first place in the standings. Their RPI isn’t where it needs to be yet, but there’s a path into the top 50. The only trouble is that the schedule is about to stiffen (Indiana, at Michigan, Illinois). If Purdue can keep up its hot streak against some of the conference’s best teams, it will earn itself an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2018.


The Pac-12 doesn’t have any locks today, though a couple teams are close. The conference overall is struggling with RPI, with just Oregon State ranking in the top 30. It also ranks seventh in conference RPI, which likely won’t be held against it, but is jarring nonetheless.

Should be in: Arizona, Oregon State

Work to do: California, Oregon, Utah

Arizona (26-16, 15-7; RPI: 33; SOS: 32): After winning five straight games and 15 of their last 16 games, Arizona hit a speedbump with a pair of one-run losses this weekend at Washington. Still, the Wildcats are in great shape and closer to the hosting race than the bubble. They probably advance to lock status with a series win this weekend.

California (26-16, 13-12; RPI: 60; SOS: 82): Every time Cal has been on the threshold of a major breakthrough this season, it’s hit with a setback. That happened again this weekend, as the Golden Bears followed up their sweep of Oregon State with a series loss against archrival Stanford. Cal has some RPI issues that just aren’t going to be easy to resolve given its closing schedule (at USC, San Jose State, Washington and a midweek against Stanford). It needs to come close to running the table to have a top-50 RPI going into the Pac-12 Tournament, but Cal is likely just destined to be bubbly.

Oregon (29-14, 12-9; RPI: 59; SOS: 115): After a series loss at Oregon State, the Ducks are in fourth place in the Pac-12 but have a bit of an RPI issue. The margin for error is slim to get into the top 50 before the conference tournament, but the schedule is largely manageable (Utah, at Washington, Washington State and a home game Tuesday against Oregon State). Oregon is 17-7 this season at PK Park and needs to make the most of its home-field advantage.

Oregon State (33-10, 12-8; RPI: 12; SOS: 43): Oregon State is close to a lock, but still needs a few more Pac-12 wins to get there. But the Beavers can focus on the hosting and top-eight races without worrying about the bubble.

Utah (29-13, 14-7; RPI: 61; SOS: 147): The Utes are one of the feel-good stories of the year. Their 29 wins are already their most since 2011 and they’re in first place in the Pac-12 standings. Butand I don’t mean to be a downer heretheir postseason resume is not in great shape. They need to go 8-2 down the stretch (at Oregon, at Utah Tech, Arizona, at Southern California) to push their RPI into the top 50 before the conference tournament. If Utah ends up on the bubble, its non-conference strength of schedule (215) is going to be held against it and its just 3-3 in quad 1 (it split series against Oregon State and at Cal). Everything is in front of Utah, but if it wants to earn its first at-large bid in the modern era of the NCAA Tournament, it needs a strong finish.


We start with Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas A&M locked up. That quartet has already reached 15 SEC wins and rank in the top five of RPI. They’re fine. Much of the rest of the league is also in a good position, with just a few teams on bubble watch for May.

Locks: Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas A&M

Should be in: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

Work to do: Florida, LSU, Ole Miss

Alabama (28-16, 9-12; RPI: 14; SOS: 5): This is very straightforward for Alabama: win four more SEC games. Its premium RPI and SOS give it a lot of leeway in terms of conference record. Its closing slate of at Mississippi State, LSU and at Auburn should be manageable for the Crimson Tide.

Florida (22-21, 9-12; RPI: 22; SOS: 1): The Gators have a two-part task over the next three weeks: 1) win four SEC games and 2) ensure that they go to Hoover with an overall winning record. With a high-end RPI and an elite SOS, 13 SEC wins should get it done for Florida, especially given its series wins against Texas A&M and Mississippi State. The trouble for Florida is that at-large teams must have a winning record and it is flirting with not meeting that threshold. If Florida goes 4-5 in its remaining SEC games (Tennessee, Kentucky, at Georgia) and wins its two midweek games (FAU, South Florida), it’s all set.

Florida is just 6-6 in midweek games and FAU and USF are no pushovers, so the Gators must be careful. It’s also notable that because of two Opening Weekend rainouts, Florida only has 54 games scheduled. Because of that, it could add two games to the schedule. That wouldn’t come without risk, however. Even if Florida scheduled the worst team in the country (by KPI, that’s winless Maryland-Eastern Shore), two added games would further congest an already busy schedule and require the pitching staff to cover 14-18 more innings. But if Florida loses to FAU, I think it would be a risk worth taking.

Georgia (31-12, 10-11; RPI: 9; SOS: 12): The Bulldogs’ elite RPI and SOS mean that they’ll get plenty of leniency in terms of conference record. They probably just need three more SEC wins to get in the tournament and with a particularly strong finishat least 6-3they can still host.

LSU (28-17, 7-14; RPI: 42; SOS: 35): The Tigers missed an opportunity Sunday when they dropped the series finale against Auburn. With its current RPI, LSU would likely need 14 SEC wins to get in the tournament. That would mean going 7-2 in the final stretch (Texas A&M, at Alabama, Mississippi). If LSU can push its RPI into the top 35, it can probably make do with just 13 SEC wins. Either way, it’s not an easy path.

Mississippi State (29-15, 12-9; RPI: 28; SOS: 30): The Bulldogs don’t need to sweat this. They’re much closer to the hosting race than the bubble.

Ole Miss (23-20, 7-14; RPI: 27; SOS: 3): Since winning its rivalry series against Mississippi State, Ole Miss has lost back-to-back series to fall into a very difficult spot. Its RPI and SOS mean it might be able to get in with just 13 SEC wins. The Rebels have a tough finishing slate (Wednesday vs. Mississippi State in Pearl, Miss., at Auburn, Texas A&M, at LSU). If they can go 6-4 in that stretch, they’ll have earned it.

South Carolina (29-14, 11-10; RPI: 11; SOS: 6): The Gamecocks don’t need to sweat this. They can be fully focused on the hosting race. They’re a few wins away from locking up a tournament bid.

Vanderbilt (31-13, 11-10; RPI: 23; SOS: 49): The Commodores don’t need to sweat this. They can be fully focused on the hosting race. They’re a few wins away from locking up a tournament bid.

Sun Belt

Realignment has turned the Sun Belt into a major conference for baseball and it’s on track to be at least a three-bid league for the third year in a row. None of the teams are locks yet, in part because of how congested the standings are. Eight teams are within two games of .500 in conference play.

Should be in: Coastal Carolina, James Madison, Louisiana

Work to do: Southern Miss, Troy

Coastal Carolina (27-17, 11-10; RPI: 24; SOS: 11): Coastal is coming off a no good, very bad week as it went 0-5, dropping out of the top 20 in RPI and to 11-10 in conference play. The Chanticleers’ metrics remain strong, and they aren’t in bubble trouble. But Coastal can’t afford much more of that. It’s hard to imagine a Sun Belt team with a losing conference record being viewed favorably. That means Coastal should be fine with a split of its closing slate (at Southern Miss, Georgia State, at Marshall and midweek games against UNC Greensboro and Clemson).

James Madison (25-18, 11-10; RPI: 30; SOS: 16): JMU is in a remarkably similar position to Coastal, just without the name cachet. The Dukes have an easier finishing slate (Arkansas State, Marshall, at Troy with midweek games against S.C.-Upstate and at Virginia Tech). Split that slate and JMU should be in the tournament for the first time since 2011.

Louisiana (33-13, 17-4; RPI: 51; SOS: 107): Louisiana holds a commanding three-game lead in the Sun Belt standings and maintaining its positioning atop the conference may become especially important. The Ragin’ Cajuns do not have the benefit of strong metrics, unlike Coastal and JMU. If Louisiana keeps winning at the rate it has in conference play, it’ll be in the tournament, no problem. But it has a bit of a tough remaining slate (at Troy, at Georgia Southern, South Alabama) and not much margin for error to get its RPI into the top 50. If Louisiana wins the Sun Belt title, it’s difficult to see the committee leaving it out. But if it slips up down the stretch and loses its status as the conference’s best team according to the eye test and the standings, it won’t have strong enough metrics to save it.

Southern Miss (27-17, 12-9; RPI: 46; SOS: 50): The Golden Eagles have a solid tournament resume today and a manageable remaining schedule (Coastal, at Arkansas State, Texas State and midweek games against New Orleans and Mississippi). But they’ll have to keep winning to keep their RPI inside the top 50 and they’re only one game ahead of the morass in the middle of the Sun Belt standings. They’re fine now but they’ve lost two of their last three series (both on the road) and can’t let that turn into a funk.

Troy (31-14, 14-7; RPI: 47; SOS: 116): The Trojans are coming on strong and looking like the team they were expected to be coming into the season, when they were picked third in the preseason coaches poll. Their sweep at Coastal vaulted their RPI into the top 50 and the Trojans can now feel good about their chances going forward – they just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. The schedule, however, is not easy (Louisiana, at Texas State, JMU and midweeks against Alabama State and Alabama). The margin for error is not great and Troy has to be careful not to give back everything it just fought so hard for.


There are some strong at-large candidates from outside the six biggest conferences and a couple of these teams are likely to host regionals. Because of the RPI situation for these teams and conferences, however, I’m not ready to lock anyone up. Still, several of these teams should comfortably be in the at-large range in late May.

Should be in: Dallas Baptist, East Carolina, Indiana State, Northeastern, San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara

Work to do: Charleston, UConn, Creighton, East Tennessee State, Georgetown, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, St. John’s, UNC Wilmington, Xavier

Charleston (31-11, 14-4; RPI: 50; SOS: 117): The Cougars had an excellent April, going 14-2 to rise to the top of the Coastal Athletic Association standings and into the top 50 of RPI. That includes a series win against UNC Wilmington, which is tied for first place. Charleston’s metrics are pretty bubbly and it’ll need to continue its strong form into May, but it’s positioning itself to have a good shot at making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.

UConn (25-18, 10-2; RPI: 41; SOS: 31): Death, taxes and UConn in the Big East. The Huskies started the season slowly but have more than found their stride now and are in first place in the conference standings. Nothing about their trajectory or history suggests they’re going to slip up in the next three weeks, but I’ll hold off on locking them up for at least another week.

Creighton (30-11, 4-7; RPI: RPI: 55; SOS: 158): The Bluejays have been outstanding in non-conference play, going 26-4 with two wins against both Coastal Carolina and Nebraska. The trouble, however, has been in Big East play. Creighton is 4-7 and its lone series win is against last-place Butler. That, obviously, is not going to get it done. Anything less than 6-3 in its final three conference series (at St. John’s, at UConn, Seton Hall) isn’t going to be good enough and it also needs to be cognizant of simply qualifying for the conference tournament, which, if the season ended today, it would miss. There are some RPI concerns as well, but until it’s in a better position in the conference standings, those can wait.

Dallas Baptist (31-11, 10-5; RPI: 13; SOS: 34): The Patriots’ April swoon – they lost three straight series to Western Kentucky, Air Force and Louisiana Tech – hasn’t much hurt their RPI and they’re still tournament bound. I’m not going to lock them up yet, but they can focus on the hosting race and not the bubble.

East Carolina (35-8, 14-4; RPI: 8; SOS: 53): I could probably lock up East Carolina, but according to, it still needs three wins to guarantee itself a top-45 RPI. I’ll wait for that to happen, but the Pirates can be focused on the top-eight seed race, not the bubble.

East Tennessee State (27-14, 9-6; RPI: 52; SOS: 87): I’ll be honest, I didn’t see ETSU’s rise coming. But the Buccaneers have won seven of their last nine games to push their RPI into an interesting range. They’re only in third place in the Southern Conference and the league hasn’t gotten multiple bids since 2012, when the league had a very different composition. So, there’s a lot working against ETSU, but if it keeps winning games at this rate, an at-large bid is not out of range.

Georgetown (29-13, 10-4; RPI: 63; SOS: 149): The Hoyas have never made the NCAA Tournament, so major props to them and coach Edwin Thompson for getting to May in a position where we can talk about them in relation to the bubble. Georgetown is in second place in the Big East and has just two losing weekends all year. There’s also a path for it into the top 50 in RPI thanks to a challenging, but given the rest of Georgetown’s credentials, manageable slate. Still, Georgetown probably needs to go 8-3 down the stretch to be on the right side of the bubble going into the Big East Tournament.   

Indiana State (31-9, 14-4; RPI: 10; SOS: 71): I could probably lock up Indiana State, but according to, it still needs three wins to guarantee itself a top-45 RPI. I’ll wait for that to happen, but the Sycamores can be focused on the top-eight seed race, not the bubble.

Lamar (34-8, 12-3; RPI: 45; SOS: 223): I really like Lamar. The Cardinals are 34-8, swept a series at Oklahoma and rank second in the nation in ERA (3.23). I think they’re in the tournament right now, but their margin for error in May is minimal. Lamar probably needs to go 10-2 down the stretch to keep its RPI in the top 50. But if it lands close to the bubble, it’s strength of schedule and non-conference strength of schedule (249) are going to work against it. And then there’s the issue that if Lamar is in the position where it needs an at-large bid, that means it took two more losses in the Southland Tournament, losses that would ding its RPI further. History is littered with mid-major teams with resumes like that who landed in the first four teams out of the tournament.

Louisiana Tech (33-13, 11-4; RPI: 44; SOS: 113): Since getting swept at Arizona in a mid-April, non-conference series, La Tech has won seven of its last eight games, including a series at Dallas Baptist. The Bulldogs have pushed into the top 45 in RPI and are in first place in Conference USA. They’re a tournament team today. The remaining schedule (at New Mexico State, Western Kentucky, at Liberty and a midweek game at Louisiana-Monroe) is tricky but manageable. If La Tech goes 7-3 in that stretch, it can feel confident. Even going 6-4 might be enough, especially if they don’t go 0-2 in the conference tournament.

Northeastern (31-11, 13-5; RPI: 35; SOS: 153): The Huskies are in solid shape thanks to their RPI. They have 11 games left (at North Carolina A&T, at Charleston, Stony Brook and midweek games against UConn and at UMass-Lowell). Seven wins in that stretch is probably the number to target.

St. John’s (27-11-1, 8-4; RPI: 57; SOS: 186): The Red Storm is coming off a big series win at Xavier and is in third place in the Big East standings, two games behind UConn. St. John’s needs an RPI boost, which the remaining schedule can provide. It’s not the easiest slate (Creighton, at Seton Hall, Georgetown and midweek games against Iona, Fairleigh Dickinson and Fairfield) but the good news is its almost entirely at Jack Kaiser Stadium, where St. John’s is 16-2-1. The Johnnies need at least eight wins down the stretch.

San Diego (30-12, 14-4; RPI: 29; SOS: 108): After last weekend sweeping Gonzaga, USD is in first place in the West Coast Conference and has a top-30 RPI. I’m not locking the Toreros up just yet, but there’s no reason for them to sweat the bubble.

UC Irvine (32-8, 14-4; RPI: 26; SOS: 138): UCI is fine. It needs to keep winning games to maintain its RPI, but it can focus on trying to chase down a hosting spot, not the bubble.

UC Santa Barbara (28-11, 14-4; RPI: 17; SOS: 69): The Gauchos are in an intriguing position in the hosting race. They have a top-20 RPI and position atop the Big West standings (although they are tied with UCI and don’t own that tiebreaker). They can focus on that, not the bubble.

UNC Wilmington (28-16, 14-4; RPI: 48; SOS: 64): The Seahawks are tied with Charleston for first place in the Coastal Athletic Association standings. They have a manageable finishing stretch (Campbell, Hofstra, at Delaware and midweek games at NC State, at Charleston Southern and home against North Carolina). Eight or nine wins in that stretch is the number to target.

Xavier (22-22, 6-6; RPI: 35; SOS: 4): The Musketeers own one of the toughest resumes to evaluate. The metrics are excellent. The raw record, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Xavier needs wins and it doesn’t much need to worry about where they come from. A winning overall record is a requirement to be considered for an at-large bid. If Xavier can hold its RPI in the range it’s in now and get that winning record, it’s set. The Musketeers have to pick up those wins, though.

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