Projected Field Of 64 (May 11)

Gainesville, FL Hattiesburg, MS
1. (1) Florida^* 1. Southern Mississippi^*
2. Georgia Tech 2. Louisiana State
3. Nebraska 3. Boston College
4. Monmouth* 4. Bryant*
Coral Gables, FL Tucson
1. (2) Miami^* 1. Arizona^
2. Florida Atlantic 2. UC Santa Barbara
3. Kentucky 3. Brigham Young*
4. Binghamton* 4. New Mexico*
Columbia, SC Conway, SC
1. (3) South Carolina^ 1. Coastal Carolina^*
2. UNC Wilmington* 2. Virginia
3. Wake Forest 3. Alabama
4. Kennesaw State* 4. Virginia Commonwealth*
Lubbock, TX Seattle
1. (4) Texas Tech^* 1. Washington^*
2. Minnesota* 2. Cal State Fullerton*
3. Oregon State 3. Gonzaga
4. Princeton* 4. Seattle*
College Station, TX Houston
1. (5) Texas A&M^ 1. Rice^
2. Clemson 2. Texas Christian
3. Dallas Baptist* 3. Southeastern Louisiana*
4. Oral Roberts* 4. Kent State*
Tallahassee, FL Oxford, MS
1. (6) Florida State^ 1. Mississippi^
2. Michigan 2. Tulane*
3. Arizona State 3. North Carolina
4. Florida A&M* 4. Wright State*
Louisville, KY Stillwater, OK
1. (7) Louisville^ 1. Oklahoma State^
2. Creighton* 2. Vanderbilt
3. Michigan State 3. Long Beach State
4. Navy* 4. Southeast Missouri State*
Starkville, MS Raleigh, NC
1. (8) Mississippi State^ 1. North Carolina State^
2. Louisiana-Lafayette 2. East Carolina
3. California 3. South Alabama*
4. Alabama State* 4. UNC Greensboro*
*-Automatic bid; ^-Regional host

Last Four In: California, Nebraska, Gonzaga, Boston College
First Four Out: Maryland, Duke, Pittsburgh, Saint Mary’s
Next Four Out: Louisiana Tech, Lamar, Jacksonville, High Point

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

New Host: Arizona
New Auto Bid: Kennesaw State (A-Sun)
New At-Large Bids: Boston College, Nebraska
Dropped Out: Lamar, Maryland

• No movement on the national seeds front this week, despite South Carolina’s series loss to Kentucky. The Gamecocks remain tied for first place overall in the SEC and No. 5 in the RPI heading into this weekend’s home set with Texas A&M. We might have to re-open the Gamecocks’ case if they were to lose that series and especially if they were to get swept by the red-hot Aggies, but right now they’re still in good shape. The same would apply to A&M if South Carolina were to sweep, though losing two of three shouldn’t change the Aggies’ outlook given they’re on the road.

Probably the biggest development in the national seed race last weekend was UC Santa Barbara’s series loss to UC Davis, which they then compounded by losing a home midweek game to Cal State Bakersfield last night. That’s busted the Gauchos all the way down No. 27 in the RPI—they were in the top 10 just two weeks ago—and third place in the Big West, three games behind league leader Cal State Fullerton, effectively taking another of the last remaining non-ACC/SEC candidates off the board. Coastal Carolina is still hanging around at No. 15 in the RPI, but its getting swept at Georgia Tech two weeks ago still resonates. If that series had happened early when the year when Coastal had time to recover, things might be different, but for it to happen when it did, in their biggest showcase series and at a time when teams are supposed to be playing their best, that will be difficult to overcome. The Chanticleers are also just 6-8 against the top 50, the worst such record of any team in the discussion, and have those troublesome head-to-head losses to both Mississippi and North Carolina State, two of their national seed competitors.

• Louisville finally won a road series, taking two of three at North Carolina last weekend to fill a big hole in its national seed resume. That sets up this weekend’s set with N.C. State, where a spot in the top eight will likely be decided. The Wolfpack did lose its series last weekend to Clemson, but that doesn’t change its outlook much if at all. The Wolfpack remains No. 6 in the RPI and in fourth place overall in the ACC at 13-9, one game back in the loss column behind 16-8 Louisville. It was always going to come down to this series deciding who had the inside track on a national seed. Of course, the possibility remains that both could be national seeds, especially if one of South Carolina or Texas A&M sweeps the other or if Florida State falls off.

The Seminoles aren’t a lock national seed yet, as they’re behind both UofL and NCSU in the RPI at No. 9 and don’t have an easy finishing schedule, with a road series against a tough Duke team and then finishing the year at home against Miami. Should FSU lose those series, that’d be losses in three of their last four and possibly leave them behind one or both of UofL and NCSU in the standings, which could offset the Noles’ head-to-head edge. They won two of three against Louisville and won the only game they played against N.C. State before the rest of the series was rained out, but all of those games were at home.

• Virginia is very much knocking on the door to be a regional host, having risen to No. 14 in the RPI after finishing its eight-game road stretch 7-1, including a series win at Miami. The Cavs have pretty well separated themselves as the ACC’s No. 5 team, with a 14-10 league record and 12 top 50 wins. Their home series with Georgia Tech this weekend will be their last real chance to make a statement before the ACC tournament—they finish the year at home against rival Virginia Tech. Playing the last-place Hokies provides an opportunity to rack up more wins, but they’re also the ACC’s one RPI anchor at No. 191, so any losses would be damaging.

The likely question will be whether they should get a host over a second-place team in the Big 12 or Pac-12—teams like Oklahoma State, Arizona or Washington. Arizona is a half-game behind Washington in the Pac-12 but might be in the best shape, given its No. 25 RPI compared to the Huskies’ No. 38. Washington also has to play a home series against No. 193 Washington State this weekend—definitely a must-sweep. Arizona has a tougher but more RPI-friendly schedule, starting this weekend against rival Arizona State. If the Wildcats end up winning the Pac-12 with Washington in second place and still in the 30s in the RPI, the RPI gap could be too great to deny a team like Virginia if it also finishes strong. Oklahoma State is in good-enough RPI shape right now at No. 21, but its remaining weekend series against No. 99 Oklahoma and No. 197 Kansas don’t afford it any margin for error.

At the same time, Minnesota’s series loss to Indiana opens up the door for us to give Arizona a hosting nod for this week. The Gophers fell to second-place in the Big Ten, a half game behind IU. If they can finish strong and win the Big Ten regular-season title, then they’d have a chance to get back on the right side of the hosting bubble—but they do have to finish strong. The Gophers are No. 34 in the RPI and have series left with No. 280 Purdue and No. 102 Ohio State, along with a midweek contest with No. 239 South Dakota State. They may need to win out or go at least 6-1 to keep their RPI in range. Michigan is also tied for second place in the league and in stronger position in the RPI at No. 22. A regular-season title would likely land the Wolverines a hosting spot, though their case is complicated by their head-to-head series losses to both Minnesota and Oklahoma State. However, all of this could be moot if Indiana holds on to win Big Ten, as its doubtful a second-place Big Ten team would be granted a host.

• The West Coast Conference could still go in several different directions. It could be a three-bid league. It could also end up a one-bid league. Brigham Young, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, the top three teams in the conference, are all very much on the bubble. Saint Mary’s is in first place right now by a game over BYU and Gonzaga, and owns head-to-head series wins against both, but we don’t see the Gaels as an at-large team at this point with their RPI having dropped to 65. They took a very damaging home loss to No. 205 San Jose State on Tuesday, and they’re just 4-8 in their last 12 games, with a tough series coming up this weekend against fourth-place Pepperdine.

Only the top four teams get to go to the WCC tournament, which does have the advantage of saving the contenders from taking any RPI-damaging losses. Before that though, BYU and Gonzaga both need to build some momentum of their own. BYU has lost three of its last four series, and after spending several weeks in the 30s, has dropped to No. 44 in the RPI. Their final two series against No. 153 San Francisco and No. 185 Santa Clara are both winnable but won’t do much for BYU’s RPI situation. At the same time, BYU’s lone series win in this stretch was head-to-head against Gonzaga. The “good” news for the Zags is both of their remaining series are on the road, and even though they’re only against No. 98 Loyola Marymount and No. 131 San Diego, that does provide more of an opportunity to help their No. 43 RPI. At least for this week, we’ll keep BYU and Gonzaga in the field and Saint Mary’s out. The Gaels’ RPI situation is too precarious and their recent form too worrisome for us to think they can get in without winning what should be a very competitive WCC tournament.

• Maryland continues to teeter, falling back out of the field after losing a home series to Illinois last weekend. The path is there for the Terps to get back in if they can win their final two series against No. 78 Rutgers and No. 56 Michigan State—a likely vital bubble showdown—but consistency remains elusive, and Maryland has little room to mess around with its RPI at 64. We’ve kept Michigan State in the field despite its own shaky RPI, as the Spartans do have stronger selling points in their 20-6 record in road/neutral games and one-game lead on Maryland in the Big Ten standings at 11-7 in the league. But both Maryland and Michigan State, which faces No. 100 Iowa this weekend, have to take care of business heading into their clash in East Lansing to end the season. Whichever team loses that series will likely find itself on the outside of the regional picture looking in when the Big Ten tournament begins.

We do still have the Big Ten as a four-bid league this week, with Nebraska getting back into the field. Want to see what winning on the road can do for you? Look at the Huskers, who’ve gone from off the radar at No. 91 in the RPI less than three weeks ago to being in pretty good shape after winning back-to-back road series at Rutgers and MSU, vaulting themselves to No. 47 in the RPI. They still have a tough series left with Big Ten-leading Indiana to end the regular season, but the Huskers are 15-5 at home and with their momentum building, we feel good about their chances moving forward.

• We’re also adding a team with plenty of positive momentum, Boston College. The Eagles have won four of their last five series—including wins against Virginia and Louisville to go with their early-season series win at N.C. State—and risen to No. 42 in the RPI. BC’s 18-11 record in road/neutral games is a big asset, as are its eight top 50 wins. The Eagles only have one conference series left, and it’s a tough one at Georgia Tech next weekend. At 11-14 in the league, they’d be in trouble if they lose that series—if for no other reason than it might knock them out of the ACC tournament.

BC is part of a tightly-packed race for the final few spots in the conference tournament with Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Pittsburgh. Barring a hot finish, Notre Dame has slid out of the at-large race at No. 73 in the RPI, but would still make the ACC tournament if it started today. BC would be in the last spot as the No. 10 seed, with Duke, UNC and Pitt missing out. We’ve kept UNC in our field on the strength of its No. 10 RPI, but if the Tar Heels do miss the ACC tournament, they would absolutely be in trouble, as would all the teams that fail to make it to Durham. The Heels have a home series with the struggling Fighting Irish this weekend, a must-win for them to get back into the league’s top 10.

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