Projected Field Of 64
Baseball America presents our latest Projected Field of 64, as we will every week for the remainder of the season.
Though the season has passed the midway point, examining the field at this point still requires a lot of projection. RPI is instructive, but teams can still make big swings, as Arizona did last week when it won a series against Oregon State and vaulted 50 spots. Teams such as Louisiana State and Texas Christian still appear in the field despite RPIs well outside the range they will need to be in on Selection Monday to garner at-large bids.
The field is still developing, but the hosting race is coming into sharper focus. North Carolina and Oklahoma move into hosting spots this week as they have moved to the top of their respective leagues. UNC is in a strong position now with a top-15 RPI to go with being in first place in the division. Oklahoma has more work to do, but having started Big 12 Conference play at 8-1, the Sooners are making a strong move. The next three weeks will be critical to their hosting chances, as they take on the Big 12’s top contenders: Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Among the other host contenders are Kentucky, Texas and UCLA. All three have work to do with their RPI, but if they finish the season at or near the top of the respective leagues, they will likely have compiled a hosting-worthy resume.
For teams outside the power conferences such as Coastal Carolina and Southern Mississippi, the path is slightly different. Southern Miss’ hosting hopes took a hit last week when it lost at home twice and saw its RPI plummet to 49. The Golden Eagles still lead Conference USA, but according to Boyd’s World, they can no longer finish the regular season in the top 16 of RPI. As we have written before, there is little margin of error for Southern Miss due to Conference USA’s poor conference RPI this season and it will really need to tear through the second half of its schedule to host for a second year in a row. Conversely, Coastal is still in a strong spot as the Sun Belt Conference is rated much higher. If the Chants finish strong, they could host for the first time ever at Springs Brooks Stadium.
The SEC, No. 1 in conference RPI, has 10 teams in the projected field, which would match the record for one conference. The two previous times it has happened (the 2014 SEC and 2016 ACC), the three worst teams in the league all finished with conference winning percentages under .400, helping to pad the rest of the teams’ record without hurting their RPI. This year’s SEC doesn’t seem to have that kind of chaff, but the conference is so deep – all 14 teams rank in the top 70 of RPI – that any team that wins at least 13-14 SEC games will likely be at least a strong bubble team.
On the bubble, this weekend’s showdowns in the Colonial Athletic Association and Atlantic Sun Conference will be significant. The CAA is in a solid position to get multiple bids, as College of Charleston, Northeastern and UNC Wilmington all have top-100 RPIs and quality series wins to their credit. The winner of this weekend’s Northeastern at Charleston series will be in the drivers’ seat for the conference title will be in a good position for an at-large bid if they need it.
The A-Sun has three top-50 RPI teams in Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville and Stetson. None of them have the kind of weekend wins the CAA teams can claim, but the conference ranks 10th in RPI and if the eventual regular-season champion puts together a strong A-Sun campaign, it may be enough to push it into at-large bid territory. FGCU travels to Jacksonville this weekend for a rematch of last year’s A-Sun Tournament title game, which should be a lively affair.
It is also important to remember that this season the way the Field of 64 is constructed has changed. No longer does the selection committee choose eight national seeds and then pair them with another host side based primarily on geography. Instead, they will seed all 16 host sites and pair the regionals accordingly. That means No. 1 seeds from the same conference can be paired together for super regionals, though that does not affect this projection.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|Gainesville, FL||Durham, NC|
|1. (1) Florida^*||1. (16) Duke^|
|2. Florida Atlantic||2. Coastal Carolina*|
|3. Washington||3. South Florida|
|4. Yale*||4. Kent State*|
|Stanford, CA||Norman, OK|
|1. (2) Stanford^*||1. (15) Oklahoma^|
|2. Missouri||2. UCLA|
|3. Mercer*||3. Missouri State|
|4. San Francisco*||4. Nevada*|
|Fayetteville, AR||Chapel Hill, NC|
|1. (3) Arkansas^||1. (14) North Carolina^|
|2. Oklahoma State||2. Louisiana State|
|3. Louisiana Tech||3. Connecticut|
|4. Oral Roberts*||4. Wagner*|
|Lubbock, TX||Athens, GA|
|1. (4) Texas Tech^*||1. (13) Georgia^|
|2. Illinois||2. Southern Mississippi|
|3. Sam Houston State*||3. Arizona|
|4. Grand Canyon*||4. Army*|
|1. (5) North Carolina State^*||1. (12) Vanderbilt^|
|2. Dallas Baptist*||2. Texas|
|3. Texas Christian||3. Tennessee Tech*|
|4. North Carolina Central*||4. Saint Louis*|
|Oxford, MS||Bloomington, IN|
|1. (6) Mississippi^||1. (11) Indiana^*|
|2. Louisville||2. Kentucky|
|3. South Alabama||3. Creighton*|
|4. Jackson State*||4. Wright State*|
|Clemson, SC||Corvallis, OR|
|1. (7) Clemson^||1. (10) Oregon State^|
|2. Wichita State||2. Texas A&M|
|3. Northeastern||3. Minnesota|
|4. Canisius*||4. Cal State Fullerton*|
|Greenville, NC||Tallahassee, FL|
|1. (8) East Carolina^*||1. (9) Florida State^|
|2. Georgia Tech||2. Auburn|
|3. College of Charleston*||3. Stetson*|
|4. High Point*||4. Stony Brook*|
|*-Automatic bid; ^-Regional host|
College Pod: Army's Jim Foster
Talking Army/Navy and an "ahead of schedule" run to the NCAA tournament.
Last Four In
- Louisiana Tech
- Texas Christian
First Four Out
- Nevada-Las Vegas
- Central Florida
Next Four Out
- Ohio State