Projected Field of 64 (3/20/19)
As college basketball this week starts its postseason, college baseball is a third of the way through its regular season. And while there is a lot of baseball left to be played, it’s not too early to start breaking down the postseason picture.
This is Baseball America’s first in-season Projected Field of 64 of the year. The field is still taking shape, but trends are already emerging that will affect the selection committee’s decisions at the end of May. The Southeastern Conference looks as strong as it was expected to be. The Pac-12 Conference is deeper than it has been in recent years. Arizona State and Miami, blue-blood programs that have missed the tournament in back-to-back years, are back.
Examining the field at this stage still requires a lot of projection. RPI is beginning to be instructive, but it is still normalizing, and wild swings remain common as teams get into conference play. Several of these teams also have significant RPI work to do.
At this stage, the hosting race and bubble are still very much developing. East Carolina gets a hosting nod here, but it needs to boost its RPI and won’t have a large margin of error going forward. The SEC gets six hosts here and that number could easily have been more. But only once has one conference had that many hosts, and the SEC West’s strength guarantees that those teams will beat up on each other throughout the spring. So, for now, Auburn, Mississippi and Texas A&M remain just on the other side of the hosting bubble.
The SEC has 11 teams in the projected field, which would set the record for one conference. The three times a conference got 10 teams in the field (the 2014 and 2018 SEC and 2016 ACC), the three worst teams in the league all finished with conference winning percentages no better than .400, helping to pad the rest of the teams’ record without hurting their RPI. The selection committee made a winning conference record a huge factor in last year’s field, so this is a difficult needle to thread for a conference.
While the SEC is off to a roaring start, the Big West and Conference USA, traditionally two of the best mid-major conferences, are off to slower starts. Both conferences currently rank outside the top 10 in RPI, and the Big West is collectively under .500. This projection has two Big West teams (UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara) and one CUSA team (Southern Mississippi). Both leagues could still produce more bids, but any at-large contenders will have to tread carefully in conference play.
Baseball America will continue to update the projected field weekly throughout the spring.
To see our preseason projection, click here.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|Los Angeles||Greenville, N.C.|
|1. (1) UCLA^*||1. (16) East Carolina^*|
|2. UC Irvine*||2. Auburn|
|3. Bryant*||3. Indiana|
|4. Marist*||4. Campbell*|
|1. (2) Mississippi State^*||1. (15) Arizona State^|
|2. Southern Mississippi*||2. Texas A&M|
|3. Oregon||3. UC Santa Barbara|
|4. Alabama State*||4. San Diego State*|
|Stanford, Calif.||Fayetteville, Ark.|
|1. (3) Stanford^||1. (14) Arkansas^|
|2. Dallas Baptist*||2. Connecticut|
|3. Georgia Tech||3. Oklahoma State|
|4. Saint Mary's*||4. Oral Roberts*|
|Austin, Texas||Baton Rouge, La.|
|1. (4) Texas^||1. (13) Louisiana State^|
|2. Houston||2. Coastal Carolina*|
|3. Sam Houston State*||3. Duke|
|4. Yale*||4. Kent State*|
|Raleigh, N.C.||Athens, Ga.|
|1. (5) North Carolina State^*||1. (12) Georgia^|
|2. Illinois||2. Clemson|
|3. Liberty*||3. Texas Christian|
|4. Coppin State*||4. Samford*|
|1. (6) Vanderbilt^||1. (11) Texas Tech^|
|2. Miami||2. Ole Miss|
|3. Virginia Commonwealth*||3. Washington|
|4. Morehead State*||4. New Mexico State*|
|Corvallis, Ore.||Gainesville, Fla.|
|1. (7) Oregon State^||1. (10) Florida^|
|2. Oklahoma||2. Florida State|
|3. Indiana State||3. St. John's*|
|4. Army*||4. Stony Brook*|
|Chapel Hill, N.C.||Louisville|
|1. (8) North Carolina^||1. (9) Louisville|
|2. South Carolina||2. Michigan*|
|3. West Virginia||3. Tennessee|
|4. Elon*||4. Wright State*|
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