Projected Field of 64 (4/24/19)
Baseball America presents our latest Projected Field of 64, as we will weekly for the remainder of the season.
Some projection is still required when putting the field together and this field is forward-looking, not meant to be taken as if the season ended today. That is why some teams with RPI work to do—Florida State and Michigan among them—are included as at-large teams.
This week sees some changes in the top-eight seed race. Stanford, which has held the No. 2 overall seed for the last several weeks, falls in this update as it is becoming increasingly clear that the Cardinal are not an RPI darling, dragged down in part by poor seasons from Cal State Fullerton and Nevada-Las Vegas. Stanford isn’t in bad shape—it ranks 11th in RPI—but it has little margin for error to finish in the top eight in RPI. That’s not a requirement for a top-eight overall seed, but it is unlikely to get the No. 2 overall seed without an RPI jump.
East Carolina moves up to the No. 8 overall seed in this projection. The Pirates swept Connecticut last weekend and look like they may run away with the American Athletic Conference. The American is a tick down this year from some of its recent highs, but ECU ranks in the top 10 in RPI and if it can pair that kind of RPI with a conference title, it will have a case. Adding the AAC Tournament title to that resume would give it strong consideration for a top-eight overall seed.
The lone new host this week is West Virginia, which takes the place of North Carolina State. While the Mountaineers' RPI is slightly worse this week than it was a week ago, it remains in the top 20 and has pushed above .500 in the Big 12 with a manageable remaining schedule.
While West Virginia and North Carolina got the nods for the final two hosting spots, they can hardly feel comfortable. Several teams are still in the mix for those spots, including Auburn, Indiana, NC State and Oklahoma State. Creighton and Tennessee are both in the mix as well, and its worth quickly examining their unique cases.
Creighton (23-8) is up to No. 16 in RPI and is 5-1 in the Big East. If it wins the conference regular season title and the Big East Tournament while avoiding any RPI landmines along the way—a narrow path to be sure, but a clear one—the Bluejays can be in the mix to host a regional at TD Ameritrade Park. They don’t have a first-rounder at the front of their rotation, but they may well be this year’s Stetson.
Tennessee (31-11) is up to No. 7 in RPI, plenty good enough to host. But the Volunteers are 9-9 in the SEC and have a tough remaining schedule (at Arkansas, Missouri, at Florida, Mississippi). Tennessee needs to at least go 7-5 in those games to host and anything more would only be helpful as the Vols try to move up the standings and SEC hosting pecking order. It won’t be easy, but Tennessee is playing well enough to make it possible.
The SEC has 11 bids in this field, which would set the record for one conference. The selection committee last year placed a heavy emphasis on finishing with at least a .500 conference record and it seems likely that will again be the case. Presently, Tennessee is .500 and Missouri (7-10-1) and Florida (7-11) are still trying to get back to that mark. Will all three get to .500? It’s a tough needle to thread, especially when they all still play each other. But it may be more relevant to get to 15 conference wins than to be .500 in conference play by the time the SEC Tournament starts. Conference tournament games count toward a team’s conference record in the committee’s eyes, meaning that a couple wins in Hoover could help push one of those teams over the line.
Baseball America will continue to update the projected field weekly throughout the season.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|Los Angeles||Chapel Hill, N.C.|
|1. (1) UCLA^*||1. (16) North Carolina^|
|2. UC Irvine||2. Tennessee|
|3. Bryant*||3. Oklahoma|
|4. Coppin State*||4. Campbell*|
|Athens, Ga.||Morgantown, WV|
|1. (2) Georgia^*||1. (15) West Virginia^|
|2. Clemson||2. Ole Miss|
|3. Texas-Arlington*||3. Illinois|
|4. Alabama State*||4. Liberty*|
|Nashville, Tn.||San Bernardino, Calif.|
|1. (3) Vanderbilt^||1. (14) UC Santa Barbara^*|
|2. Nebraska||2. Arizona State|
|3. California||3. Missouri|
|4. Jacksonville State*||4. Virginia Commonwealth*|
|Louisville, Ky.||Baton Rouge, La.|
|1. (4) Louisville^*||1. (13) Louisiana State^|
|2. Indiana*||2. Oklahoma State|
|3. Texas||3. Houston|
|4. Ball State*||4. Stony Brook*|
|Corvallis, Ore.||Atlanta, Ga.|
|1. (5) Oregon State^||1. (12) Georgia Tech^|
|2. Connecticut||2. Auburn|
|3. Brigham Young*||3. Illinois State|
|4. Canisius*||4. Elon*|
|Fayetteville, Ark.||College Station, Tx.|
|1. (6) Arkansas^||1. (11) Texas A&M^|
|2. Dallas Baptist*||2. Baylor|
|3. Louisiana Tech||3. Florida State|
|4. Harvard*||4. Wright State*|
|Stanford, Calif.||Lubbock, Tx.|
|1. (7) Stanford^||1. (10) Texas Tech ^*|
|2. Florida||2. Creighton*|
|3. Fresno State*||3. Sam Houston State*|
|4. New Mexico State*||4. Nebraska-Omaha*|
|Greenville, N.C.||Starkville, Miss.|
|1. (8) East Carolina^*||1. (9) Mississippi State^|
|2. North Carolina State||2. Miami|
|3. Michigan||3. Southern Mississippi*|
|4. Army*||4. Samford*|
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