NCAA Baseball Tournament Bubble Watch (5/7/24)


Image credit: Tommy White (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

With less than three weeks until Selection Monday, the race for the NCAA Tournament is reaching its home stretch.

As Selection Monday approaches, 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. Overall records do not include any wins against teams outside of Division I, as those do not appear in the information presented to the selection committee and do not factor into RPI’s calculation.

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


Things look pretty much the same as they did last week in the ACC, owing in part to so many teams being on finals break last week. Louisville helped its cause significantly, however, with a sweep at Boston College. The threshold for a lock in the ACC is still 15 conference wins.

Locks: Clemson, North Carolina

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

Work to do: Georgia Tech, Louisville, Virginia Tech

Duke (32-14, 14-10; RPI: 22; SOS: 46): 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 (35-10, 14-9; RPI: 7; SOS: 24): 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 (28-17, 12-12; RPI: 46; SOS: 55): The Yellow Jackets got a win over the weekend at Clemson, bringing its conference record to 12-12. The schedule doesn’t lessen from here, as Georgia Tech finishes 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 (227). That means I’d suggest Georgia Tech go 4-2 in its remaining ACC games (and win both midweek games) to feel secure. The Yellow Jackets wouldn’t be dead if they went 3-3 in their final two series, but they would be quite bubbly going into the ACC Tournament.

Louisville (29-18, 13-11; RPI: 57; SOS: 50): The Cardinals swept a series at Boston College and surged up the RPI rankings, climbing 20 spots in a week. They still have work left to do, but it’s a much more manageable lift. Louisville is going to be dinged for its awful non-conference schedule (271) if it ends up on the bubble. The best way to avoid that is to get to 16 ACC wins, which means splitting its remaining six games at North Carolina and home against Notre Dame. Splitting its mid-week games at Vanderbilt and home against Indiana is probably also advisable to push its RPI into the top 50. A top-50 RPI and 16 ACC wins (which would likely rank middle of the pack in the conference) should be enough for the Cardinals to return to the NCAA Tournament.  

NC State (26-18, 13-10; RPI: 19; SOS: 6): NC State is approaching lock status and has played its way to the hosting bubble. The Wolfpack have a tough finishing slate (at Virginia, Wake Forest), but just a couple wins in that stretch will get them in the tournament, especially with their RPI.

Virginia (35-12, 14-10; RPI: 12; SOS: 37): 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 (31-14, 13-11; RPI: 38; SOS: 91): 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 RPI – strong signs that they’re in the field today. On the other hand, they’ve lost four straight ACC series and have an abysmal non-conference strength of schedule (270). That gives off 2023 Notre Dame vibes, and the Irish got left out of the field after going 15-15 in the ACC. Notably, however, they finished outside the top 50 of RPI. A solid week at Liberty and home against Miami should keep the Hokies in a good place.

Wake Forest (32-16, 12-12; RPI: 11; SOS: 5): 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.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State remain the only locks in the conference. If Texas had a more normal resume it too would have reached lock status, but its bad losses are weighing down its RPI enough that I’m not willing to lock it up.

Lock: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

Should be in: Texas, West Virginia

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

Cincinnati (27-21, 13-11; RPI: 67; SOS: 60): The Bearcats have played their way into the tournament conversation by winning four of their last five Big 12 series, including a series win over the weekend against West Virginia. The path forward is a tough one, however. Their RPI remains in a tough spot, and they’ll need to nearly win out to push it into the top 50. That’s a tall task with series at BYU and home against Oklahoma, as well as midweek games at Indiana and home against UConn. All the Bearcats can do at this point is keep winning and push themselves as high as possible in the conference standings.

Kansas (27-17, 13-11; RPI: 64; SOS: 77): The Jayhawks had won 11 of their last 12 games going into their weekend series at Kansas State. They fell just shy of a series win in Manhattan, as they suffered two close losses. They’re still in at-large contention, but the job ahead is tough. They host Houston this weekend and end the season at Texas. Their RPI probably can’t get to a comfortable range ahead of the Big 12 Tournament. All the Jayhawks can do at this point is keep winning and push themselves as high as possible in the conference standings.

Kansas State (28-19, 12-12; RPI: 36; SOS: 21): The Wildcats were left bubble out 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. Those metrics, combined with a .500 conference record and a manageable remaining conference slate (at West Virginia, BYU) has the Wildcats in a solid position. A split of those six games should be enough for them to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.

Texas (30-19, 15-9; RPI: 51; SOS: 29): The Longhorns have won eight of their last 10 games, including series against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, to surge to 51 in RPI and into second place in the Big 12. Their resume remains one of the stranger ones due to their eight quad four losses, more than any other team in the top 100 of RPI. But given their strong top-end work (their position in the conference and 8-7 record in quad 1 games), they’ve put themselves in a strong position for the NCAA Tournament. KPI also likes Texas much more than RPI, ranking it No. 23. Given all of those positives, if Texas can just split its final six games (at UCF, Kansas), it seems like it would comfortably be in the tournament. Leaving out a team with at least 18 Big 12 wins feels unlikely.

TCU (29-16, 13-14; RPI: 28; SOS: 43): The Horned Frogs got a critical sweep of Baylor over the weekend and has now won six of its last seven games, turning a bubbly resume into one that looks much more solid. They have four Big 12 games left (Baylor, West Virginia). Split that pair and they’re in great shape. Even going 1-3 might be good enough – as long as TCU takes care of business this weekend against New Mexico State.

Texas Tech (30-20, 12-15; RPI: 52; SOS: 39): The Red Raiders have significantly backed up over the last two weeks as they have lost seven of their last eight games, including back-to-back sweeps at Kansas and against Oklahoma. They have just one conference series left – this weekend at Oklahoma State – and it is now a must-win. There’s very little to like about Texas Tech’s resume – it’s 10th in the Big 12 standings, 3-11 in quad 1 games, 7-14 in the first two quadrants, has won just three conference series and trending in the wrong way. The case for Texas Tech primarily relies on a sweep of West Virginia, its wins against Nebraska and Oregon on Opening Weekend in Arlington and a so-so RPI. Texas Tech is on the wrong side of the bubble today and suddenly has its back against the wall.

UCF (29-15, 11-12; RPI: 30; SOS: 34): UCF got an important series win at Houston, ending a slide that had seen them lose consecutive Big 12 series and fall to ninth in the conference standings. UCF has a strong RPI and can probably afford to split its remaining Big 12 games (Texas, at Baylor). It does need to watch its positioning in the conference standings, as it can’t afford to miss the Big 12 Tournament and only the top 10 teams qualify. UCF is in a pretty solid position after this weekend, but it can’t ease off the gas now.

Big Ten

The conference race remains quite messy and much of the league remains in RPI trouble. Nebraska can feel secure, even if it’s not a lock. Everyone else needs a strong finish.

Should be in: Nebraska

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

Indiana (27-19-1, 12-6; RPI: 62; SOS: 38): The Hoosiers got a big series win at Purdue over the weekend and are trending up. But they’re still 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 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).

Illinois (28-16, 14-5; RPI: 60; SOS: 106): Illinois is coming off a big week that saw it beat Indiana State and win a series against Ohio State. That got its RPI back to 60 and kept it in first place in the standings. It’s far from out of the woods, however. The Illini are just never going to have a great RPI at this point and they’re still a little light on notable wins (6-12 vs. quad 1 and 2). The finishing stretch isn’t east (Iowa, at Purdue), but if Illinois can win the conference title and bump up its RPI another few pots, things would be very interesting going into the Big Ten Tournament.

Maryland (31-18, 10-11; RPI: 35; SOS: 72): In a conference of teams with good league records and bad RPIs, the Terrapins stand out as the opposite. After a critical series win over the weekend at Rutgers, Maryland is up to eighth in the conference standings and just one game below .500 in Big Ten play. Those are the two biggest points on its resume today. It must finish in the top eight of the standings to reach the Big Ten Tournament, which is likely a (unofficial) prerequisite to its at-large case. It also would be wise to at least get to .500 in conference play. Next weekend’s series against Penn State, therefore, is an absolute must-win. The rest of the resume is good, not great and I’d be interested in knowing how the regional advisory committee would line up the Hoosiers (which owns a series win at Maryland) and the Terrapins, but its RPI would probably put it in the tournament field if it can clean up its conference record.

Nebraska (30-16, 12-6; RPI: 21; SOS: 23): 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 (23-22, 8-10; RPI: 63; SOS: 28): Ohio State has lost three straight series, likely ending its tournament hopes. It today is in ninth in the Big Ten standings, meaning it’s on the outside of the Big Ten Tournament. Before any serious consideration of its NCAA Tournament hopes is worthwhile, Ohio State must fix that – though, notably, it’s only a half-game behind Maryland for the final spot in the field.

Purdue (30-17, 12-6; RPI: 69; SOS: 92): The Boilermakers took a brutal series loss to Indiana over the weekend, dealing their tournament and Big Ten title hopes a serious blow. Purdue is still in the mix for both, but its final two series (at Michigan, Illinois) are must-win.


Is it a little weird that the first Pac-12 team to get locked up is Arizona and not Oregon State? Yes. Oregon State is still by far the more likely of the pair to host thanks to its much superior RPI (15 vs. 33), but the Wildcats are in first place and have won 18 Pac-12 games to the Beavers’ 14. With 18 conference wins and an RPI that’s locked into the top 50, I’m comfortable putting the Arizona in as a lock. Oregon State is still a week away.

Lock: Arizona

Should be in: Oregon, Oregon State

Work to do: California, Utah

California (28-17, 15-13; RPI: 58; SOS: 90): Cal over the weekend got the series win it needed at USC. Its RPI problems are never going to be fixed, in part because it doesn’t play a top-100 team the rest of the way. That means Cal needs to nearly run the table (San Jose State, Washington and a midweek against Stanford). I’d say a sweep of the Spartans and going 3-1 against the Huskies and Cardinal might just do it. Some points of its resume might be a little close to 2023 Southern Cal (which got left out and wasn’t even among the first four teams out) for comfort, but the Golden Bears would have 18 Pac-12 wins, including a sweep of Oregon State, to go with some other solid pieces. It would be bubbly, but it would be compelling (at least to me).

Oregon (32-15, 15-10; RPI: 48; SOS: 88): The Ducks had a huge week, first beating Oregon State on Tuesday in Eugene and then winning a series against Utah. That pushed their RPI into the top 50 and gave them 15 Pac-12 wins. The RPI’s not great, but it’s good enough and they have some solid top-end wins. The job isn’t done yet, however. Oregon needs to win its series at Washington and against Washington State (and a sweep of the Cougars would make me feel better about their chances). The good news is that those are two of the three worst teams in the conference standings.

Oregon State (36-12, 14-10; RPI: 15; SOS: 51): Oregon State is close to a lock, but I want it to win one more Pac-12 game. But the Beavers can focus on the hosting and top-eight races without worrying about the bubble.

Utah (30-15, 15-9; RPI: 55; SOS: 119): The Utes are one of the feel-good stories of the year in college baseball. They’ve won 30 games for the first time since 2002 and they’re in second place in the Pac-12 standings. But – and I don’t mean to be a downer here – their postseason resume is not in great shape. says they do not have a path to a top-45 RPI before the conference tournament – and that’s with a series against Arizona (33) coming up this weekend. If Utah ends up on the bubble, its non-conference strength of schedule (216) is not going to do it any favors to be held against it. Utah owns a series win at Cal, which could become significant if both are on the bubble, but it really needs a strong finish. The committee just a year ago effectively threw out the Pac-12 standings, selecting Oregon (sixth) and Arizona (eighth) over USC (third) and Arizona State (fourth) due to their relative metrics.


Georgia and Mississippi State join Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas A&M as locks. Mississippi State, by virtue of its win in the Governor’s Cup against Mississippi, has 15 SEC wins. Georgia has just 13, but it’s got a top-five RPI and, according to, has already locked in a top-16 RPI. That level of RPI combined with 13 SEC wins is enough for a bid. We can lock up the Dawgs.

Locks: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M

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

Work to do: Florida, LSU, Mississippi

Alabama (29-18, 10-14; RPI: 14; SOS: 4): This is pretty straightforward for Alabama: win three more SEC games. Its premium RPI and SOS give it a lot of leeway in terms of conference record. Its closing slate of LSU and at Auburn should be manageable for the Crimson Tide.

Florida (24-23, 10-14; RPI: 23; SOS: 1): The Gators have a two-part task over the next two weeks: 1) win three 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 3-3 in its remaining SEC games (Kentucky, at Georgia) and beats South Florida tonight, it’s all set. Florida is just 7-6 in midweek games, however, 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), any added games would further congest an already busy schedule and require the pitching staff to cover more innings. Things could get interesting if Florida only won two more SEC games given the strength of the rest of its metrics, but history is very much not on the side of 12-win SEC teams.

LSU (31-18, 9-15; RPI: 34; SOS: 22): The Tigers got a massive series win over the weekend against Texas A&M. Not only did they upset the No. 1 team in the country and pick up two crucial SEC wins, they also improved their RPI by about 10 spots. While I’m most focused on the raw number of SEC wins for LSU, the RPI still does matter, as getting into the tournament with 13 SEC wins is markedly more likely for teams with top-35 RPIs. All of that is to say that LSU needs four more SEC wins in the final two weeks (at Alabama, Mississippi).  

Mississippi (25-22, 9-16; RPI: 25; SOS: 3): The Rebels got a much-needed series win against Auburn, but missed an opportunity to sweep the series when they couldn’t close out a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth Sunday. Its RPI and SOS mean it should be able to get in with just 13 SEC wins. The Rebels have a brutal finishing slate (Texas A&M, at LSU) and can’t afford to go anything less than 4-2 in that stretch. If they can get those four wins, they’ll have earned it.

South Carolina (32-15, 13-11; RPI: 13; SOS: 14): The Gamecocks don’t need to sweat this. They can be fully focused on the hosting race. They’re one SEC win away from locking up a tournament bid.

Vanderbilt (32-16, 11-13; RPI: 27; SOS: 30): Getting swept over the weekend at Georgia was not advisable but the Commodores are still in fine shape overall. Win two SEC games down the stretch (Tennessee, at Kentucky) and they’re set.

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. Ten teams are within two games of .500 in conference play.

Should be in: James Madison, Louisiana, Southern Miss, Troy

Work to do: Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, South Alabama

Coastal Carolina (27-20, 11-13; RPI: 32; SOS: 12): Coastal is mired in an eight-game losing streak that has seen it fall out of hosting contention and the conference title race and is now imperiling its NCAA Tournament hopes. The Sun Belt is better, and its perception is strong, but I still cannot imagine a team from the conference getting in the tournament with a losing league record. That means the Chanticleers must go 4-2 in their final two conference series against Georgia State and at Marshall. If they can’t do that, they’ll have deservedly played their way out.

Georgia Southern (26-21, 15-9; RPI: 70; SOS: 54): The Eagles are operating on the fringes of the bubble thanks to a six-game winning streak that has provided necessary wins and boosted their positioning in the Sun Belt race. The schedule stiffens from here, however, as Georgia Southern hosts Louisiana and visits Appalachian State, with home-and-home midweeks against Jacksonville thrown in. This weekend is a must-win for the Eagles, who otherwise won’t come close to resolving their RPI issues.

James Madison (28-19, 13-11; RPI: 37; SOS: 17): JMU’s resume is not the most impressive at first glance, but it has strong metrics and is in a solid spot in the Sun Belt standings. The Dukes have a tricky finishing slate (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 (34-15, 18-6; RPI: 50; SOS: 101): Despite a series loss at Troy, Louisiana holds a two-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, in part because they have five quad 4 losses. If Louisiana keeps winning at the rate it has in conference play, it’ll be in the tournament, no problem. But it has a tough remaining slate (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.

South Alabama (27-20, 11-13; RPI: 65; SOS: 44): The Jaguars have an interesting resume but are going to have to get their Sun Belt record to at least .500 for it to really matter, given their RPI. That means going 4-2 in the final two weekends against Louisiana-Monroe and at Louisiana. Win this weekend and I promise to fully break down South Al’s candidacy seriously next week.

Southern Miss (31-17, 15-9; RPI: 42; SOS: 49): The Golden Eagles have a solid tournament resume today and an easy remaining schedule (at Arkansas State, Texas State and a midweek game against Mississippi). But because their final two Sun Belt opponents will count as quad 4 games, they’ll need to nearly run the table against them to maintain their RPI.

Troy (34-15, 16-8; RPI: 47; SOS: 111): 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. They went 5-1 against Coastal and Louisiana in consecutive weeks, pushing their RPI into the top 50 and themselves into second place in the conference standings. They can feel good about their chances going forward – they just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. The schedule remains tricky (at Texas State, JMU and a midweek against Alabama) and the margin for error isn’t great (a non-conference strength of schedule of 233 hangs over their heads). But given the way its played for the last month, Troy has to be feeling good.


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 only locking up East Carolina and Indiana State, which are assured of top-45 RPIs, according to Still, several of these teams should comfortably be in the at-large range in late May.

Lock: East Carolina, Indiana State

Should be in: UConn, Dallas Baptist, Northeastern, St. John’s, San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UNC Wilmington

Work to do: Charleston, Creighton, East Tennessee State, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, UNC Greensboro, Xavier

Charleston (33-11, 16-4; RPI: 54; SOS: 150): The Cougars had an excellent April, going 14-2, to push themselves into the mix. Their metrics, however, are not great. Their RPI needs some work and poor scheduling has them No. 218 in non-conference strength of schedule, a bit of an unbelievable number for a mid-major team in such an advantageous location. That said, Charleston is in second place in the Coastal Athletic Association, a half-game behind UNC Wilmington (which it beat in a series). It has a chance this weekend, when it hosts Northeastern, to consolidate that position as one of the two best teams in the conference, which could be important in the bubble conversation.

UConn (27-19, 12-3; RPI: 43; SOS: 40): 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 another week.

Creighton (31-14, 4-10; RPI: RPI: 61; SOS: 139): I’m including Creighton here only because of its RPI and because it hasn’t yet been eliminated from Big East Tournament contention. But unless the Bluejays sweep UConn this weekend, it’s over. Which is too bad because they’re 27-4 in non-conference play with 3-0 record against Nebraska and two wins against Coastal Carolina. But they’ve also won just one conference series and that’s not good enough.

Dallas Baptist (34-12, 12-6; RPI: 20; SOS: 73): 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 Tennessee State (30-15, 12-6; RPI: 56; SOS: 100): I’ll be honest, I didn’t see ETSU’s rise coming. But the Buccaneers have won 10 of their last 13 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.

Lamar (36-10, 14-4; RPI: 68; SOS: 234): I really like Lamar. The Cardinals are 36-10, swept a series at Oklahoma and lead the nation in ERA (3.26). But after last week taking two quad 4 losses, their RPI tanked and probably won’t recover unless it wins out. Furthermore, its overall strength of schedule and non-conference strength of schedule (239) 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. Unfortunately, the Cardinals look like they’ll need to win the Southland Tournament.

Louisiana Tech (35-15, 12-6; RPI: 45; SOS: 108): La Tech over the weekend took a bad series loss at New Mexico State, which dropped them a game out of first place in Conference USA. The good news is that it barely moved their RPI, and they have a first-place showdown this weekend at home against Western Kentucky. Winning its final two series (WKU, at Liberty) might be enough, particularly if it doesn’t go 0-2 in the conference tournament (which it is hosting).

Northeastern (32-13, 14-7; RPI: 39; SOS: 145): The Huskies over the weekend lost a series at North Carolina A&T, but still have a top-40 RPI. The concern really is that they’re now three games out of first place in the Coastal Athletic Association and have a tough closing stretch (at Charleston, Stony Brook and midweek games against UConn and at UMass-Lowell). I have them in the field now but are three CAA teams really going to make it? The conference is improved in this iteration, but it’s still only 10th in conference RPI. Northeastern already has a series loss against first-place UNC Wilmington, can it afford another against second-place Charleston? I wouldn’t want to risk it. This weekend isn’t truly a must-win, but it’s something close to it.

St. John’s (31-11-1, 11-4; RPI: 44; SOS: 156): The Red Storm are red hot. They’ve won six straight games to push into second place in the Big East standings and the top-45 in RPI. St. John’s is tracking toward its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2018 and probably needs about five wins down the stretch (at Seton Hall, Georgetown and midweek games against Fairleigh Dickinson and Fairfield).

San Diego (33-13, 17-4; RPI: 31; SOS: 104): San Diego over the weekend swept Santa Clara, its third straight sweep in West Coast Conference play. The Toreros have a top-35 RPI and a 2.5-game lead in the conference standings. I’m not locking them up just yet, but there’s no reason for them to sweat the bubble.

UC Irvine (34-10, 15-6; RPI: 26; SOS: 102): UCI is fine. It needs to keep winning games to maintain its RPI, but it doesn’t have bubble trouble this year.

UC Santa Barbara (31-12, 17-4; RPI: 16; SOS: 56): The Gauchos are in an intriguing position in the hosting race thanks to their top-20 RPI and position atop the Big West standings. They can focus on that, not the bubble.

UNC Greensboro (29-16, 13-5; RPI: 59; SOS: 94): The Spartans have won nine straight games to push their RPI into the top 60 and themselves into second place in the Southern Conference, a half-game behind first-place Samford. If UNCG keeps winning, it has a path into the top 45 of RPI, according to The schedule, however, really stiffens down the stretch (Samford, S.C.-Upstate, and midweeks at Coastal and against North Carolina A&T). If UNCG goes even 6-2 against that stretch, it will have earned a place in the at-large discussion.

UNC Wilmington (32-16, 17-4; RPI: 41; SOS: 65): The Seahawks had a huge week, beating NC State and sweeping Campbell. As a result, they have edged in front of Charleston by half a game for first place in the Coastal Athletic Association standings and pushed into the top-45 in RPI. They have a manageable finishing stretch (Hofstra, at Delaware and midweek games at Charleston Southern and against North Carolina). Five or six wins in that stretch is the number to target.

Xavier (25-22, 9-6; RPI: 29; SOS: 10): The Musketeers got a much-needed sweep of Butler over the weekend. The metrics are outstanding, the underlying results (5-11 in quad 1, 7-13 vs. quads 1 and 2) may make some uneasy, but they’re not unique among bubble teams (Virginia Tech is also 5-11 in quad 1, for instance). Xavier needs to watch its overall record, as having a winning overall record is a prerequisite toward a tournament bid and it doesn’t have an easy finish (at Georgetown, Villanova and midweeks against Kentucky, at Miami (Ohio), Oklahoma). But as long as the Musketeers qualify for the tournament and has this kind of RPI, they’re fine.

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