Image credit: Nick Goodwin (Photo by Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/Getty Images)
As the calendar flips to May, it’s time to start bubble watch for the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Over the next month, 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 camps:
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.
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. For now, buckle in and get ready for an exciting month as we push ever closer to the Road to Omaha.
Wake Forest is locked—it’s No. 1 in RPI and 16-4 in the ACC. Frankly, the relevant question for the Demon Deacons is whether they’ll earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
For now, Wake stands alone as a lock from the ACC. The magic number in the conference is 15 wins. No ACC team has gotten an at-large bid without being at least .500 in conference play since 2016, so that’s what everyone else is chasing. After seeing North Carolina State get snubbed a year ago at 14-15 in the ACC, despite a run to the ACC Tournament championship game, I’m going to be cautious and wait to lock anyone up until they get to 15 ACC wins.
Lock: Wake Forest
Should be in: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Miami, Virginia
Work to do: Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech
Boston College (29-14, 13-11; RPI: 14; SOS: 38): After the Eagles’ hot start, they’ve been more up and down in ACC play and that’s to be expected for most teams in the conference. BC is much closer to hosting than the bubble, but the job’s not done yet—especially with a series at Wake Forest on tap. Winning even one game this weekend in Winston-Salem would take much of the drama out of the final month, otherwise the series against Notre Dame on the final weekend of the regular season becomes must-win.
Clemson (28-17, 11-10; RPI: 13; SOS: 3): The Tigers have surged over the last four weeks, winning four straight ACC series and pushing themselves into the hosting race. With nine ACC games to play and two of its final three weekends coming at home, Clemson just needs to take care of business at Doug Kingsmore Stadium to ensure it returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019. But the Tigers are now thinking bigger than just an at-large bid.
Duke (31-13, 14-9; RPI: 7; SOS: 6): The Blue Devils were one of the best teams in the country in April, as they went 15-3. That catapulted them to the top of the ACC Coastal Division and into the top-eight seed race. I could reasonably lock them up, but I’ll hold firm to the 15-win mark for ACC teams. With a finals break on tap for Duke this week that means it will annoyingly be stuck just beyond the lock threshold this time next week, too. But the Blue Devils’ focus is on hosting and top-eight seeds, not the bubble.
Louisville (28-15, 9-12; RPI: 25; SOS: 28): The Cardinals have lost three straight ACC series and gone just 2-7 during that stretch. That’s pushed Louisville from the hosting race to bubble watch. The Cardinals have a tough finishing stretch—at Clemson, at Virginia and home against Florida State—and will need six wins to feel good about their chances. Louisville’s RPI is still helping it and if it can stay in the top 30, it’ll be in better shape on Selection Monday if it were to fall short of .500 in conference play. But the bottom line is that Louisville needs wins and it needs them now.
Miami (28-16, 14-10; RPI: 12; SOS: 9): The Hurricanes have quietly won three straight series since getting swept at Virginia, including beating both North Carolina and Louisville on the road. That’s pushed Miami ahead of Virginia in the ACC Coastal standings and only Wake Forest has more ACC wins than the Hurricanes. Like Duke, you could probably lock Miami up. But I’ll stick to the 15-win mark for ACC teams and, again like Duke, Miami will be stuck just beyond that threshold this time next week due to a non-conference weekend. The Hurricanes are definitely looking at hosting and not worrying about the tournament bubble, however.
North Carolina (29-17, 11-11; RPI: 34; SOS: 14): The Tar Heels were in a precarious spot after getting swept at home by BC and then losing the opener of their series at Virginia Tech. But they bounced back to win the series and even their ACC record. They’re off this weekend for finals and have two more conference series to play—home against NC State and at Clemson. Because UNC had two games rained out at Pittsburgh, it will only have 28 conference games. As a result, while the rest of the conference is aiming for 15 ACC wins, UNC can probably make due with 14. Those final two weekends aren’t a layup, but securing a split seems manageable.
North Carolina State (29-15, 8-13; RPI: 26; SOS: 25): 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 will be aware that anything less than a 7-2 finish against a slate of at Notre Dame, at UNC and home to Pittsburgh will leave its resume vulnerable. NC State’s other metrics are better this year—including its non-conference strength of schedule (96 vs. 184 a year ago), which was noted last year by the selection committee as one of the dings against its resume. But even so, the Wolfpack is facing three must-win series to end the season.
Notre Dame (26-17, 14-11; RPI: 37; SOS: 48): The Fighting Irish are probably closer to the bubble than their record indicates. At 14-11 in ACC play and with series against NC State and at BC remaining, they should be relatively safe if they split those six games. But Notre Dame has some poor underlying metrics (especially its non-conference strength of schedule mark of 253), which could come into play if it were to slip up down the stretch.
Virginia (37-11, 13-11; RPI: 11; SOS: 64): The Cavaliers struggled in April, losing four of their five ACC series. That skid has pushed them out of first place in the ACC Coastal as both Duke and Miami have edged past. Virginia isn’t in bubble trouble, however. With remaining series against Louisville and Georgia Tech, Virginia can still focus on the hosting race, not its at-large resume.
Virginia Tech (26-16, 11-12; RPI: 52; SOS: 55): The Hokies are precariously positioned following a home series loss to UNC. Their RPI is the worst of any of the ACC’s serious tournament hopefuls and they’ll probably need to win their two remaining conference series (home against Clemson and at Wake Forest). That’s a tight spot to be in for the reigning champions.
Annually, the Big 12 provides an exciting conference race and this year is no different. It’s been a hard one to get a handle on, as it appears that nearly any team in the conference can win any given series.
No one is locked up yet and most of the conference is still in the mix. That makes for an exciting month ahead.
Should be in: Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia
Work to do: Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas Tech
Kansas State (28-18, 11-7; RPI: 58; SOS: 70): K-State is in second place in the Big 12 standings after its big series win last weekend against Texas Tech. The Wildcats have already won more Big 12 games than they have in any season in the last decade and are looking to now make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. They have two conference series left (at Oklahoma State and home against TCU) and a split would probably be good enough to finish in the top half of the conference. Whether that would be enough to garner an NCAA Tournament berth is a different question, however. The Wildcats are No. 58 in RPI and will need to be nearly perfect to push that number into the top 45. Right now, they look like they’ll be one of the toughest bubble cases of the year.
Oklahoma (25-20, 9-9; RPI: 54; SOS: 19): The Sooners’ sweep of Texas in Austin two weeks ago reignited their NCAA Tournament hopes. They’ve now won back-to-back series for the first time since March to get into the bubble conversation. The road ahead is difficult, however. Oklahoma has two conference series left: at West Virginia and home against rival Oklahoma State. Those series sandwich a trip to Gonzaga. Oklahoma should be able to boost its RPI but facing the top two teams in the conference standings will be a real challenge and it probably needs to win one of those series. Oklahoma is a team to watch this month.
Oklahoma State (30-14, 11-7; RPI: 20; SOS: 32): The Cowboys are on an eight-game winning streak, which has helped them rebound from back-to-back series losses last month. Not quite a lock, but Oklahoma State is more concerned with the hosting race than the bubble.
Texas (30-16, 10-8; RPI: 27; SOS: 22): The Longhorns rebounded nicely after getting swept by Oklahoma, going on the road and winning a series at TCU. Texas is fourth in the Big 12 standings and has a solid RPI. The work’s not done and the chance to host might have gone, but the Longhorns don’t need to be sweating the bubble.
TCU (25-20, 8-10; RPI: 55; SOS: 20): The Horned Frogs look very bubbly. There’s some great—they beat Arkansas and Vanderbilt and won a series against Oklahoma State—and some bad—home series losses to Florida State and UNC Wilmington. Their RPI is not in a great place and they’re seventh in the Big 12. This weekend’s series against Cal State Fullerton won’t help TCU in the Big 12 standings, but it can help boost its RPI and give TCU some more high-end wins.
Texas Tech (30-15, 9-9; RPI: 59; SOS: 97): There’s no more challenging team to deal with than Texas Tech. The eye test suggests that the Red Raiders should firmly be in the field. They have series wins against Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU (all of which are at least in the mix for the NCAA Tournament), in addition to a midweek split at Stanford. Their metrics, however, are being weighed down by some bad RPI losses (they have three losses against teams with an RPI above 150). Tech needs a solid finish.
West Virginia (34-11, 11-4; RPI: 15; SOS: 98): The Mountaineers are in great shape. They’re in first place in the standings, projected as hosts and on a nine-game winning streak. Not quite a lock yet, but they’re headed in that direction, even with a challenging slate of Oklahoma, Texas Tech and at Texas left in conference play.
Last weekend’s showdown between Indiana and Maryland provided some clarity to the conference race, as the Terrapins have taken control.
After getting just two teams in the tournament a year ago, it doesn’t look like the Big Ten will be bouncing back to the banner years of four or five bids. But there are still several teams in the mix going into the final month.
Should be in: Indiana, Maryland
Work to do: Iowa, Michigan State, Rutgers
Indiana (31-14, 9-6; RPI: 30; SOS: 49): The Hoosiers a week ago were in first place in the Big Ten and were in the hosting mix. Then Maryland thumped IU at Bart Kauffman Stadium, outscoring it 43-12 over three games. It was a real setback for the Hoosiers, who are now two games behind first-place Maryland and fell out of the hosting race. IU is still in good shape for an at-large bid, but with seven straight games on tap against teams that rank in the bottom half of RPI, it needs to quickly build a new winning streak.
Iowa (28-11, 8-6; RPI: 40; SOS: 94): Annually, the Hawkeyes seem to find themselves in the bubble conversation. That traditionally hasn’t ended well for Iowa, which hasn’t earned an at-large bid since 2015. This year feels different, however. The Hawkeyes have a solid RPI and a reasonable finishing stretch (Ohio State, Michigan State, at Northwestern), which should help push them up near the top of the conference standings by the end of the regular season. Iowa has to take care of business and its strength of schedule numbers are unsightly, but it should be able to get this done.
Maryland (31-15, 11-4; RPI: 41; SOS: 69): The Terrapins last weekend made a statement with a sweep at Indiana. Maryland moved into first place in the Big Ten and got a nice RPI boost. It’s in the driver’s seat for a second straight conference title and fully on track for a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Michigan State (28-13, 10-5; RPI: 63; SOS: 181): The Spartans have produced one of the best year-to-year turnarounds in the country. A season ago, Michigan State went 24-30 and finished 12th in the Big Ten standings. The Spartans now sit in second place and have already surpassed last year’s win total. Now, the question is can they make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012? The Spartans have a difficult closing schedule (at Illinois and Iowa and home against Indiana). If Michigan State wins those series, it’s got a real shot at a bid. But there’s also a real chance that even with those series wins, its resume ends up looking a lot like Rutgers a season ago and that story didn’t end happily for the Scarlett Knights.
Rutgers (27-18, 8-7; RPI: 47; SOS: 59): The Scarlett Knights were one of the first teams left out of the field last year and they’re again headed for bubble territory this season. Rutgers is mired in the middle of the Big Ten standings after a tough series loss at Purdue, but its RPI keeps it in the mix. With Penn State, Illinois and Minnesota remaining on the schedule, Rutgers should move up the standings, but it’s not going to get much RPI help. Will that hold it back? Maybe, but for now Rutgers just needs to focus on getting some wins.
The Pac-12 runs deep this season, and it should be rewarded on Selection Monday. None of these teams are quite at lock status yet, but several are just on the doorstep. No team from the conference has gotten an at-large bid without a winning conference record since the league expanded a decade ago, so the key number for all of these teams is 16 Pac-12 wins.
Should be in: Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford
Work to do: Southern California, UCLA, Washington
Arizona State (29-15, 14-6; RPI: 32; SOS: 46): The Sun Devils lost a tough series last weekend at Oregon, their first series loss since early March. That dropped them just behind Stanford in the Pac-12 standings ahead of this week’s first-place showdown in Phoenix. ASU has a tough closing stretch (Stanford, at USC, UCLA) but they don’t need to be sweating the bubble right now.
Oregon (30-14, 13-8; RPI: 22; SOS: 10): The Ducks have the best RPI in the Pac-12, have won series against both ASU and Stanford in the last three weeks and are just two games out of first place. All of that is to say that Oregon is eying the hosting race, not the bubble. The Ducks have a tricky series at USC on tap this weekend.
Oregon State (31-13, 14-10; RPI: 24; SOS: 71): Since starting Pac-12 play 1-5, the Beavers have turned things around. They’ve won five of their last six series and have the conference’s third-best RPI. With Utah coming to town this weekend, Oregon State has a great opportunity to carry that momentum forward and maybe even lock up a bid.
Southern California (25-19-1, 11-10; RPI: 70; SOS: 73): The Trojans’ hot start in Pac-12 play has faded a bit, as they have been swept on the road in two of the last three weeks. Their road woes are part of a larger trend; USC is just 5-14-1 away from Dedeaux Field this season. USC’s RPI has also slipped and is now well outside the range typical for at-large bids. While all of that sounds bleak, USC still has a shot. It won’t be easy, but with a pair of home series against Oregon and ASU on tap, the Trojans can still get back in this race in a big way. USC is 20-5 at home and owns series wins against Stanford and UCLA, so you can’t count it out yet.
Stanford (28-13, 15-6; RPI: 21; SOS: 40): I could probably lock up Stanford, but I’ll hold to the 16-win threshold in the Pac-12. The bottom line for the Cardinal is that they’re in great shape and are focused on the top-eight seed race.
UCLA (24-16-1, 10-9-1; RPI: 42; SOS: 34): UCLA is in a bit of a strange spot. Its metrics are good enough to put it in the field but it’s in sixth place in the conference standings with a just above .500 record. Winning its two remaining home series (California and Oregon State) would probably clear up the incongruities in its resume. It also would just help the Bruins, who are 3-7 in their last 10 games, rebuild some momentum.
Washington (26-13, 11-19; RPI: 53; SOS: 91): The Huskies flipped their postseason hopes with last weekend’s sweep of USC and did it in dramatic fashion, needing late comebacks in both their Friday and Saturday wins. Now, Washington has a clear path forward. It won’t be easy, however, with its next two series at Washington State and Oregon before finishing at home against Cal. The Huskies likely need to win one of those road series to stay in the mix.
College baseball’s premier conference is given more leeway on Selection Monday and is the only league that routinely gets at-large bids for teams with losing conference records. In fact, 14 SEC wins is usually plenty and 13 gives teams a fighting chance. Because of that leeway and the strong RPI numbers for the SEC’s top teams, I’m ready to lock in five teams.
Even with all those locks, there’s still plenty going on around the bubble in the SEC.
Locks: Arkansas, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt
Should be in: Tennessee
Work to do: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas A&M
Alabama (31-15, 10-12; RPI: 17; SOS: 26): At the start of the week, Alabama’s most pressing concern seemed to be finding a way to go at least 4-5 over the next three weeks while facing Vanderbilt, Texas A&M (on the road) and Mississippi. Then, on Thursday, coach Brad Bohannon was fired, reportedly due to an investigation that found connections between him and betting activity in Ohio on last Friday’s game between Alabama and LSU. The stakes for the Crimson Tide remain the same: play about .500 down the stretch and get in the NCAA Tournament. The question is whether they can do so among all the noise surrounding the program. Thursday night’s resounding 11-2 win against Vanderbilt was a strong start.
Auburn (25-18-1, 9-12; RPI: 36; SOS: 13): The Tigers have won back-to-back series (against Mississippi State and at South Carolina) to flip their NCAA Tournament profile. Auburn faces a favorable remaining schedule (or at least, as favorable as it can be in the SEC) with series against LSU, at Mississippi and home against Missouri. Going 5-4 down the stretch should be good enough and is completely reasonable for a team that just handed South Carolina its first home series loss of the season.
Georgia (25-20, 8-13; RPI: 23; SOS: 5): The Bulldogs looked to be in solid shape after sweeping Arkansas two weeks ago. Those good feelings dissipated last weekend, however, when Georgia lost a series at Mississippi. The Bulldogs aren’t done by any means; the path just got harder. Their strong RPI and strength of schedule gives them a little more leeway and getting to 13 SEC wins might be enough. But that requires Georgia to go 5-4 over the last three weeks against Tennessee, at Missouri and home against LSU. Getting something out of this weekend against the Volunteers would be big for the Bulldogs’ hopes.
Kentucky (30-13, 11-10; RPI: 4; SOS: 2): The Wildcats started SEC play 9-1, building a strong platform for their NCAA Tournament hopes. They’re just 2-9 since, however, leaving them with work to do down the stretch. The Wildcats can probably limp into the postseason with just two or three more SEC wins thanks to their elite RPI and strength of schedule and if they recaptured their mojo, they can get right back in the hosting race. It won’t be easy though, with series against South Carolina, at Tennessee and home against Florida left on the schedule.
Tennessee (31-14, 11-10; RPI: 16; SOS: 24): The Volunteers were in trouble two weeks ago when they were just 5-10 in SEC play and lost a home midweek game against Tennessee Tech. Since then, however, they’ve won eight straight games, including sweeps of Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. That run has Tennessee stressing the hosting race and not the bubble, though with road series at Georgia and South Carolina sandwiching a series at home against Kentucky, the closing schedule isn’t easy.
Texas A&M (26-19, 9-12; RPI: 45; SOS: 11): The Aggies looked to have turned a corner and removed a lot of the drama from their NCAA Tournament hopes when they won four straight series to start April. Then, however, they hit a five-game losing streak that included getting swept at Arkansas. A&M has a relatively favorable remaining schedule (Florida, Alabama, at Mississippi State), but its poor RPI (by SEC standards) means it probably won’t be afforded the leeway to get in with only 13 conference wins. Still, winning five games against that slate should be within reach for the Aggies.
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.
Should be in: Coastal Carolina, Southern Miss
Work to do: Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, Texas State, Troy
Coastal Carolina (28-15, 15-6; RPI: 9; SOS: 1): I’m not locking up the Chanticleers, but they’re strongly in the field as it stands. This is a team in the mix for a top-eight seed (though it needs a strong finish), not one that’s concerned about the bubble.
Georgia Southern (23-21, 13-8; RPI: 71; SOS: 35): The Eagles are in third place in the Sun Belt, their non-conference strength of schedule is No. 16, and they have some strong wins, including a series win against West Virginia, the Big 12 leader. On the flip side, Georgia Southern is just two games above .500 overall and it has serious RPI trouble. The Eagles have little margin for error the rest of the season and face a big series this weekend at Troy.
Old Dominion (28-16, 11-10; RPI: 62; SOS: 89): The Monarchs have lost four straight series and, in the process, fallen into dangerous territory. Their RPI is never going to be great and they’re just a game over .500 in conference play. The good news is that the schedule lightens from here. ODU faces trips to Arkansas State and James Madison (both of which have losing records in Sun Belt play) before finishing at home against Georgia State. ODU needs to stop its skid this weekend.
Southern Miss (29-15, 14-7; RPI: 29; SOS: 47): Much like Coastal, Southern Miss is in solid shape, even if it’s not yet a lock. It does need to be a bit careful as its final three series (South Alabama, at Louisiana-Monroe, home against Louisiana-Lafayette) aren’t going to help its RPI. But the Golden Eagles don’t need to stress.
Texas State (30-16, 12-9; RPI: 46; SOS: 67): The Bobcats have been up-and-down throughout Sun Belt play, alternating series wins and losses. They picked up a big win last weekend, taking down ODU on the road. If they can build some momentum in May against a reasonable slate (Georgia State, at Louisiana-Lafayette, home against Louisiana-Monroe), they can make back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 1999-2000.
Troy (31-15, 11-10; RPI: 31; SOS: 39): There’s a lot to like about Troy’s resume and it has the third-best RPI in the conference. The Trojans are in the middle of the pack in the conference standings, just a game over .500, but if they can pile up some wins down the stretch against a slate of Georgia Southern, at Marshall and home against Appalachian State, they could make their first regionals appearance since 2018.
There are several impressive teams outside college baseball’s biggest leagues and at least one or two of these teams is likely to host a regional. 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 be comfortably in the at-large range by late May.
Should be in: Campbell, Connecticut, Dallas Baptist, East Carolina, Indiana State
Work to do: Cal State Fullerton, Elon, Northeastern, Texas-San Antonio, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Wofford, Xavier
Cal State Fullerton (27-13, 17-4; RPI: 43; SOS: 65): The Titans are back. They’re in first place in the Big West, holding a 2.5-game lead over UCSB. They this weekend have a series at TCU that gives them another chance to boost their RPI. Fullerton isn’t home free yet, but it is on track for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2018.
Campbell (33-10, 16-2; RPI: 28; SOS: 152): The Camels’ metrics don’t match their rankings in the human polls, but they’re also not in danger of missing the tournament as things stand. Avoiding bad RPI losses down the stretch is important for Campbell, but it holds a two-game lead on South Carolina-Upstate in the standings and its non-conference strength of schedule of 20 gives it another strong point in its favor.
Connecticut (32-11, 8-3; RPI: 18; SOS: 77): The Huskies are actually a half-game behind Creighton in the Big East standings but they’re still much more concerned with the hosting race than the bubble. Their RPI is probably destined to tick down at least a bit due to their remaining schedule, but as long as they keep winning conference series, they’ll be fine.
Dallas Baptist (34-11, 18-3; RPI: 19; SOS: 96): DBU has swept four straight Conference USA series to build a 1.5-game lead on Texas-San Antonio. That’s also helped the Patriots push their RPI into the top 20 and put them in the hosting race. Because DBU still has seven games left against teams in the bottom half of RPI it can’t afford a swoon and therefore isn’t a lock here, but it’s in a fine spot.
East Carolina (31-14, 9-6; RPI: 33; SOS: 42): The Pirates are a game behind Houston and Wichita State in the American Athletic Conference standings, and they’ve lost six of their last eight games, but they’re still in fine shape overall. This is an important weekend, however, as ECU travels to Cincinnati. It’s just 5-10 this season away from Clark-LeClair Stadium and a series loss to the Bearcats would be a drag on its RPI.
Elon (27-17, 15-8; RPI: 51; SOS: 36): The Phoenix rose with a 3-1 week last week, beating Campbell and then taking a series at Charleston. The road ahead is still tough for Elon. Its remaining games are all against teams with RPIs well north of 100, meaning it needs to nearly win out to budge its own RPI. But as long as they don’t slip up, the Phoenix look like a team that can stick on the bubble and maybe play their way into a bid.
Indiana State (29-13, 16-2; RPI: 10; SOS: 18): The Sycamores have been an excellent story and are pushing to host a regional. They’re also closing in on lock status for the NCAA Tournament.
Northeastern (35-7, 16-5; RPI: 39; SOS: 220): The Huskies have quite the interesting resume. They rank sixth in the country in wins, trailing only a group of ACC and SEC powerhouses, lead the Colonial Athletic Association and have a top-40 RPI. All of that points toward an NCAA Tournament bid. But Northeastern has a tough slate ahead, with series at UNC Wilmington and William & Mary and a home set against Charleston. The Huskies need to keep playing well to maintain their positioning. It also is noteworthy that Northeastern has the worst strength of schedule of any team in the at-large discussion and its non-conference mark (234) isn’t any better. That’s not a primary factor and being 6-0 against BC, UConn, Duke and Indiana State helps cancel that out, but it is a part of what the Huskies are dealing with.
Texas-San Antonio (33-12, 16-4; RPI: 57; SOS: 158): The Roadrunners were a bubble team a year ago and they’re back in that territory this season. UTSA is 1.5 games behind DBU in the Conference USA standings and meets the Patriots for a first-place showdown in a week. It needs a strong finish if it’s going to get its RPI into the top 50 and that might be a requirement for the Roadrunners, given their strength of schedule and dearth of premium wins.
UC Irvine (28-13, 10-8; RPI: 44; SOS: 75): The Anteaters have won six straight games and 11 of their last 14 to push their RPI into the top 50. Keeping it there won’t be easy (half their remaining games are against teams that have an RPI above 200), but UCI has put itself on the bubble. The next two weeks against Hawaii and at Cal State Northridge will be important for the Anteaters, as they also need to stay in touch with the Big West leaders.
UC Santa Barbara (28-13, 13-5; RPI: 35; SOS: 51): UCSB has the best RPI in the Big West and is in second place in the standings, 2.5 games behind Fullerton. Three of the Gauchos’ last four series are on the road, adding a bit of difficulty to their stretch run. But UCSB is still in fine shape for a fourth straight trip to regionals.
Wofford (32-12, 8-4; RPI: 49; SOS: 98): The Terriers last season were snubbed after a loss in the Southern Conference Tournament and are again looking like a bubble team. Wofford’s RPI has it in the mix now but the margin for error is low. A series win this weekend at UNC Greensboro is a must.
Xavier (27-17, 8-4; RPI: 56; SOS: 86): The Musketeers played a very challenging non-conference schedule, which helped them build a solid RPI that has them in the bubble picture. Their at-large hopes took a ding last weekend with a series loss against Seton Hall. Now, Xavier travels to Creighton. It’s a chance to bounce right back, but it’s also a tricky series. The Musketeers probably can’t afford another series loss.