Projected Field Of 64 (April 13)

Coral Gables, FL Mount Pleasant, SC
1. (1) Miami^* 1. College of Charleston^*
2. Michigan State 2. North Carolina
3. Alabama 3. Maryland
4. Florida A&M* 4. UNC Greensboro*
Starkville, MS Berkeley, CA
1. (2) Mississippi State^* 1. California^*
2. Clemson 2. Long Beach State
3. Arizona 3. Saint Mary’s
4. Monmouth* 4. Wright State*
Gainesville, FL Hattiesburg, MS
1. (3) Florida^ 1. Southern Mississippi^*
2. Michigan* 2. Mississippi
3. Missouri State* 3. Louisiana-Lafayette
4. Navy* 4. Creighton*
Tallahassee, FL Mobile, AL
1. (4) Florida State^ 1. South Alabama^*
2. East Carolina 2. Louisiana State
3. Minnesota 3. Southeastern Louisiana*
4. Florida Gulf Coast* 4. Alabama State*
Lubbock, TX Corvallis, OR
1. (5) Texas Tech^* 1. UC Santa Barbara*
2. Rice 2. Oregon State^
3. New Mexico* 3. Brigham Young*
4. Southeast Missouri State* 4. Seattle*
Fort Worth, TX Nashville
1. (6) Texas Christian^ 1. Vanderbilt^
2. Houston* 2. Tulane
3. Lamar 3. Virginia
4. Bryant* 4. Kent State*
Columbia, SC Raleigh, NC
1. (7) South Carolina^ 1. North Carolina State^
2. Georgia Tech 2. Kentucky
3. Coastal Carolina* 3. UNC Wilmington
4. Princeton* 4. Virginia Commonwealth*
Louisville, KY College Station, TX
1. (8) Louisville^ 1. Texas A&M^
2. Oklahoma State 2. Florida Atlantic
3. Stanford 3. Cal State Fullerton
4. Hartford* 4. Oral Roberts*
*-Automatic bid; ^-Regional host

Last Four In: Minnesota, Saint Mary’s, UNC Wilmington, Maryland
First Four Out: Nebraska, Old Dominion, Washington, Gonzaga

Bids By Conference
9: SEC
8: ACC
4: Big Ten, Pac-12
3: American, Big 12, Big West, Conference USA
2: Colonial, Southland, Sun Belt, West Coast
1: A-10, A-Sun, America East, Big East, Big South, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Mountain West, Missouri Valley, NEC, OVC, Patriot, Southern, Summit, SWAC, WAC

New Hosts: College of Charleston, North Carolina State, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi
New Auto Bids: New Mexico (Mountain West), Seattle (WAC)
New At-Large Bids: Maryland, Minnesota, Saint Mary’s, UNC Wilmington
Dropping Out: Arkansas, Nebraska, UCLA, West Virginia

• Texas Tech vaults all the way into the national seeds after its road sweep of Oklahoma State to move to 11-1 in the Big 12. The Red Raiders’ RPI isn’t quite there yet—No. 11 on—but there’s otherwise a lot to like about their resume, in addition to the gaudy conference record. They’re 8-4 against the top 50, 10-4 against the top 100 and 12-5 in road/neutral games. Tech still has to play a road series at TCU, which is 6-3 in the league having played one fewer series, but with the Pac-12 looking very doubtful to produce a national seed, that boosts the Big 12’s chances for getting a second one.

• We also made an adjustment among our SEC national needs, subbing South Carolina in for Texas A&M. The Gamecocks sit No. 2 in the RPI and have a three-game lead on the Aggies in the league standings at 10-2 vs. 7-5, and they get to play at home in Columbia later on against A&M as well as Florida. The Gamecocks’ best series win (sweeping at Ole Miss) is also louder than A&M’s (two of three at home against LSU). A&M is certainly still in the running at No. 10 in the RPI and has played well enough outside of that one poor weekend in Gainesville, but right now we see the ball being in South Carolina’s court.

• The race to be the fourth host out of the ACC should go down to the wire, with Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and North Carolina State all vying for position—Virginia looks to be falling by the wayside. The Wolfpack gets the nod for this week after sweeping Wake Forest to move to 8-5 in the conference, giving it sole possession of fourth place. The ‘Pack improved to No. 14 in the RPI and looks to have the most positive momentum of the four after winning back-to-back series against Virginia and Wake. Meanwhile, 8-7 Clemson is coming off a series loss to Duke and UNC has gone 3-6 over the last three weekends to fall to 8-7 after a 5-1 start to league play. The Tigers do have the No. 7 RPI and the single best series win—against South Carolina—of the group, but the rest of their resume doesn’t have that much meat. The South Carolina series is the only one they’ve won against an at-large caliber team. Georgia Tech is at the back of the RPI line (No. 22) and sits 7-7 in the league but does have a head-to-head series win against UNC and hosts N.C. State this weekend, another vital swing series.

• Whichever team emerges from among Florida Atlantic, Rice and Southern Mississippi as the regular-season champ of Conference USA should have a strong chance to host, especially if it doubles up by winning the league tournament. All three teams are in the top 40 of the RPI, with USM in the best position at No. 16. We’ll give the Golden Eagles the nod then, given the RPI and the fact they have a two game lead in the standings at 11-1. However, all three of these teams still have to play each other, so it’s there for the taking for each of them. The good news for all of them is that C-USA has seven teams in the top 100 of the RPI and no one lower than 160, so maintaining a solid RPI throughout league play should be do-able given there aren’t any teams to really drag it down.

• Can College of Charleston and South Alabama host? Right now, they’ve got the RPIs to do it, with Charleston at No. 13 and USA at No. 9. Both will have to keep dominating their leagues down the stretch if they’re to make the grade, which mainly means staving off challenges from UNC Wilmington and Louisiana-Lafayette, respectively. If they win those series and go on to win their regular-season titles, it’s possible they can get hosting gigs, given the dearth of hosting candidates in the West and the unlikelihood a sixth SEC team would get one. Charleston could’ve used a series win against UC Santa Barbara last weekend—they settled for a split—but still has a solid 11-6-1 record against the top 100. USA is only 6-6 against the top 100 but has dominated the Sun Belt to the tune of a 15-0 league record. If they can clear the hurdle that is Louisiana-Lafayette and keep their RPI at least in the top 20, it’s likely the committee would reward them. Doubling down with a conference tournament title would be a possible separator as well.

• One other note on hosts. For the time being, we’ll keep UCSB on the road as a No. 1 seed. With Oregon State’s RPI dipping to No. 36, we’re putting the Beavers as a 2-seed and having them host the No. 1 Gauchos, which at least allows UCSB to stay in the Pacific Time Zone.

• The Big Ten looks very bubble centric. Nebraska’s RPI took a major hit in the last week from being in the 40s all the way down to No. 81. Part of this is because the Huskers lost a home game (while winning two of three) against No. 253 Northwestern, but it’s also the ripple effect of Loyola-Marymount, previously one of Nebraska’s best RPI series wins, dropping out of the top 50 and down to No. 83. The beneficiary of this is Maryland, which we’re putting back in after its sweep of Ohio State pushed it all the way up to No. 39. The Terps are still just 18-15 overall, and we like the Huskers’ 7-2 league record, but the RPI gap is too big to keep them in over Maryland. The good news is Nebraska does have a chance to give their RPI a boost with road series at Michigan this weekend and at Michigan State in May.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, we’re moving Minnesota in. The Gophers’ 17-10 overall record isn’t exactly inspiring either, but what they have going for them is the No. 19 RPI, a 13-9 road/neutral record and now a marquee series win on the road at Michigan. Those factors are too loud to overlook. The Gophers also have a quality non-conference series win at Missouri State.

• We’ve also put Saint Mary’s and UNC Wilmington in the field, making the West Coast Conference and Colonial Athletic Association two-bid leagues. The Gaels’ biggest pluses are their No. 45 RPI and 11-8 record away from home. They also own a head-to-head series win against fellow WCC bubble aspirant Gonzaga. The Gaels must improve their 6-7 top 100 record, but remaining series with BYU, Loyola Marymount and Washington—a potentially very big late-season non-conference series—give them the opportunity to do that.

The Seahawks addressed their woeful road record—they were 0-7 at one point—by sweeping William & Mary last weekend. They’re still just 4-7 away from home, but that sweep did enough to jump their RPI from the 60s a week ago to No. 44 today. Their biggest remaining series is at home against College of Charleston from May 6-8, and they should be in decent shape so long as they manage a top-two finish in the league. That said, they probably do need to win all their other series besides the Charleston one. Home series against East Tennessee State (No. 282), Towson (No. 241) and Hofstra (No. 243) leading up the visit from CofC are all potential RPI land mines.

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