Midseason Field Of 64 Projection

Tempe, Ariz. Fayetteville, Ark. Atlanta Oxford, Miss.
1. (1) Arizona State^* 1. Arkansas^ 1. (5) Georgia Tech^ 1. Mississippi^
2. Long Beach State 2. Oklahoma 2. Auburn 2. Kansas
3. New Mexico 3. North Carolina State 3. Stanford 3. Southern Mississippi
4. Wagner* 4. Wichita State* 4. Jacksonville State* 4. Ball State*

Charlottesville, Va. Myrtle Beach, S.C. Gainesville, Fla. Tallahassee, Fla.
1. (2) Virginia^* 1. Coastal Carolina^* 1. (6) Florida^ 1. Florida State^
2. Vanderbilt 2. The Citadel* 2. Miami 2. Alabama
3. Connecticut 3. North Carolina 3. Tulane 3. South Alabama
4. James Madison* 4. Manhattan* 4. Bethune-Cookman* 4. Florida Gulf Coast*

Baton Rouge, La. Corvallis, Ore. Los Angeles Fullerton, Calif.
1. (3) Louisiana State^* 1. Oregon State^ 1. (7) UCLA^ 1. Cal State Fullerton^*
2. College of Charleston
2. Rice* 2. UC Irvine 2. California
3. Southeastern Louisiana 3. Baylor 3. Texas Tech 3. San Diego*
4. Southern* 4. Army* 4. Fresno State* 4. Dartmouth*

Austin Fort Worth Louisville Clemson, S.C.
1. (4) Texas^* 1. Texas Christian^* 1. (8) Louisville^* 1. Clemson^
2. Texas State* 2. Texas A&M 2. Western Kentucky* 2. South Carolina
3. Arizona 3. Virginia Tech 3. Kentucky 3. Charlotte*
4. Oral Roberts* 4. Maine* 4. Wright State* 4. Ohio State*
* Automatic Bid
^ Regional Host


• This week marks the midpoint of college baseball's regular season—seven weekends in the books, seven weekends to go before Selection Day. As part of our annual Midseason Report, we present our midseason field of 64 projection. That last word—projection—is critical; this is not how we believe the NCAA tournament field would look if the season ended today. Rather, we are taking into account first-half results and also projecting how teams will finish in the second half based on what we learned in the first half and what we know about the talent and makeup of each team. The Division I baseball committee also factors the Ratings Percentage Index into its deliberations when filling out the field, so we considered where teams stand currently in the pseudo-RPI rankings at boydsworld.com (through Tuesday's games), and whether they are likely to rise or fall based on their remaining schedules.

• The Southeastern Conference leads all conferences with nine teams in the field. The last team in is Kentucky, which lost its first three SEC series and has a lot of work to do in order to dig out of its 2-7 hole in the league standings. But the Wildcats are in good shape in the RPI (38th), and they have a chance to make a statement to the committee over the next two weeks, with home series against Alabama and Florida. Kentucky is talented enough to make a second-half run, and we're betting that it will. Auburn (24th in the RPI) is on track to get an at-large regional bid for the first time since 2005. The Tigers are 19-10 overall and 5-4 in conference play, and the return this week of center fielder Trent Mummey from a severely sprained ankle means Auburn is close to full strength for the first time all season. We also project four SEC teams to host regionals, but there are five strong contenders to host in the league. South Carolina is the odd team out in our projections, thanks to strong seasons by Coastal Carolina and Clemson. The Palmetto State is very unlikely to get three regional sites, and the SEC probably won't get five, so the math works against the Gamecocks. But if they hold on to their current lead in the SEC's Eastern Division, they will host a regional for sure, at the expense of Coastal or Clemson, plus one of the other SEC teams.

• The Atlantic Coast Conference has never sent eight teams to regionals, but it has a chance to do so this year. Like the SEC, the ACC has five teams with regional-hosting chances (Virginia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Clemson and Miami), and we project four of them to host, with Miami the odd team out—although Florida State does not exactly have a vise-grip on hosting in light of its recent struggles. North Carolina lost its first three conference series and does not have a quality series win against a likely regional team under its belt yet, but the Tar Heels are strong in the RPI (29th) and have enough pitching to rebound down the stretch in conference play, so they're in as a No. 3 seed here. Virginia Tech and North Carolina State have some work to do to boost their RPIs, but right now both are in better shape in the conference standings than UNC, and both have a signature series win (the Hokies took two of three at Florida State, and the Wolfpack took two of three against then-No. 1 Virginia). At this time, we'll put all of those teams in the field, but if a mid-major favorite with an at-large resume is knocked off in its conference tournament, the seventh and eighth teams in the ACC will be vulnerable.

• The Big 12 and Pacific-10 conferences each get six bids. Kansas State is in better shape in the standings and in the RPI than Baylor and Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders just won a series against the Wildcats, and we anticipate K-State running into some adversity in the second half, while Tech and Baylor make runs. In the Pac-10, Oregon has a stronger RPI (23rd) than Arizona (27th) and California (31st), but the Ducks lost their first two conference series and now must travel to Stanford and UCLA the next two weeks. They could be in a serious hole after four weeks of conference play, and Cal and Arizona have signature wins of their own. The Wildcats took two of three from Cal State Fullerton and Oregon, plus swept four midweek games against Wichita State and New Mexico. The Golden Bears split four games at Rice and swept a series against Arizona.

• Conference USA is a mess. Rice has the best RPI in the league at this point—45th—but the CUSA's poor overall RPI will hurt the Owls in conference play, provided they can even turn their season around and make a second-half run. East Carolina looked to be in good position after going 3-3 against Virginia and South Carolina over the first two weeks, but the Pirates have struggled since then and fallen to 81st in the RPI, and they just dismissed their leading hitter and starting shortstop (Dustin Harrington) from the team. Southern Mississippi has not won a quality series this year and recently dropped two of three at Alabama-Birmingham, but the Golden Eagles are in better shape in the RPI (61st), and they host the pivotal series against East Carolina next month, so we'll give them the nod over the Pirates. Tulane has come on strong, winning a series at ECU last weekend, but still ranks just 67th in the RPI. Still, the Green Wave hosts Rice and Southern Miss, so let's give them the inside track at finishing near the top of the conference standings. UAB is also a factor, especially after winning two midweek games against Alabama over the last two weeks, but the Blazers' RPI (91st) is torpedoed by series against Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois. It will be hard for UAB to move up too far in the RPI against a soft CUSA schedule.

• The Big West has had a rough first half, but we still project the conference to send three teams to regionals. Cal State Fullerton (12th in the RPI) seems to be finding its stride after a disappointing start, so we project the Titans to win the league title and host a regional. Long Beach State has won four straight series, including two of three at Oregon State, helping the Dirtbags climb to No. 25 in the RPI and earn a No. 2 seed in our projection. UC Irvine is lower in the RPI (56th) but is still talented enough to go on a second-half run and earn a No. 2 seed, and maybe a No. 1. For now, let's pencil the Anteaters in as a No. 2.

• The RPI loves the Southern Conference, which explains why The Citadel (13th) and College of Charleston (18th) get No. 2 seeds. The Sun Belt, Southland, Big East and Mountain West conferences also get two bids apiece. Western Kentucky seems like the safest Sun Belt team, and the rest of the SBC is wide open, with Florida International, South Alabama, Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee jockeying for position. We're giving the Jaguars the league's second bid on the strength of its series win at MTSU, its midweek wins against Tulane, Southern Miss and Southeastern Louisiana, its solid RPI (50th) and its good record (22-10 overall, 10-2 in conference play).