Sports, Thrill of Victory

Which 16 teams should host an NCAA baseball regional?

Could five Southeastern Conference teams host regionals?

The NCAA Baseball Tournament starts in six days, and with it, 16 teams will be hosting regionals. But who might those 16 teams be? I don’t necessarily know what the selection committee will use as its parameters to select teams because it hasn’t spoken publicly about it this year, but using the same criteria that it was said to use last year, all the following factors will be considered:

– A team’s record — overall, in-conference and out-of-conference
– Overall and non-conference RPI
– Conference tournament results
– Road record and RPI
– Record in last 15 games
– Record against teams ranked 1-25, 26-50, 51-100, 101-150 and below 150 in the RPI
– Head-to-head record of teams being considered for spots, as well as records against common opponents
– Input from regional advisory committees

Obviously I don’t have access to that last bit, but I could easily track and compare all teams based on these merits, the results of which you’ll see below. Of course, a caveat: I have no idea what factors the NCAA will weigh more heavily than others; I tended to give a little more credence to overall RPI and records against top-50 teams, since the latter is the kind of opposition each team will generally face in NCAA play. Some also think that the committee may consider mid-week results more heavily this year as it reflects on a team’s overall pitching depth, but I have no idea if that’s true.

Another thing: the NCAA often likes to mix things up geographically in where it awards hosts. So, a team that makes the list based on merit could be bumped off the list by another team that’s close. If that happens, the league that could get less than it deserves would be the Southeastern Conference, and I have five of its teams deserving based on the above criteria. I make no attempt to guess what the committee may or may not do there; I’ve just tried to rank the teams on how well they met the objective standards by which teams are judged.

Could five Southeastern Conference teams host regionals?

Could five Southeastern Conference teams host regionals?

Anyway, here’s my list after all games had been played on Saturday, May 24. All teams are listed in order in which I ranked them. Each team’s record and RPI (according to WarrenNolan.com) is listed in parenthesis.

National seeds:
1. Oregon State (41-11, 5): In a year where no team was dominant, the Beavers are solid across the board; strength of schedule (49) is a little weak, but the 13-5 mark against top-50 teams and a 13-4 road record are both impressive.

2. Florida (39-20, 2): The Gators have played an incredible 64.4 percent of their games against top-50 RPI foes, against which they’ve gone 24-14. That includes a 17-9 mark against the top 25, and, of course, a No. 1 strength of schedule.

3. Virginia (44-12, 1): Cavaliers have a very similar resume to OSU, but OSU was 7-1 against the top 25 while UVA was just 4-4.

4. Indiana (40-13, 3): IU didn’t get tested much in the Big 10, and six losses outside the top 100 is a big of a negative, but with that RPI and a 7-5 mark against top 25 teams, it’s hard to ignore the Hoosiers.

5. TCU (40-15, 11): The Horned Frogs are an impressive 15-8 against top 50 teams, went 18-8 away from home and have won 13 of their last 15.

6. Texas (38-16, 7): In the original version of this article, I had the Longhorns higher on this list, but after looking at conference play (UT went 13-11) whereas I’d looked mostly at just who wins came against, I had to knock them down a bit. Yes, I realize not many people may have has UT as a national seed right now, but look at the big wins, forget what conference they came against, and tell me that Texas doesn’t belong in the top eight. The Longhorns kind of snuck up on everyone here, but at 17-6 away from home , 17-12 against the top 50 and just one loss to teams outside the top 100, there wasn’t much not to like.

7. Florida State (42-15, 4): FSU’s 5-8 mark against top 25 teams gives pause to consider whether the Seminoles belong among the elite, but the ‘Noles were otherwise consistent — a 16-6 road record and just two losses to teams outside the top 100.

8. Louisiana-Lafayette (51-7, 6): Ragin’ Cajuns played just four games against top 50 teams and just 16 against the top 100 period, but between the fact that they went 3-1 in those games (against top 25 teams, no less) and that sparkling record, I’ll just have to trust the RPI on this one.

Other hosts:
9. South Carolina (42-16, 13): There are some chinks in the body of work here, including a 10-11 mark away from home. But at 15-11 overall and with a series win over a Vandy team that’s in the vicinity, the Gamecocks get the nod here.

10. Vanderbilt (41-18, 7): The Commodores looked so bad in the SEC Tournament that their own fans question whether they should host. However, in the big picture, it’s pretty simple: yes, they do. Take any criteria you like — non-conference RPI (4), overall strength of schedule (4) and a 19-16 record against the top 50 (that’s the second-most wins in the country) and the ‘Dores fare very, very well. They also did a great job of avoiding bad losses (6-1 vs. 51-100, 5-1 vs. 101-150 and 11-0 vs. 150 and up). If the NCAA wants to look for an excuse to push someone in at the SEC’s expense, some think Vandy is expendable due to its 6-seed in its conference tournament, but the resume screams that it shouldn’t.

11. Ole Miss (41-18, 14): Rebels had a shot to get a national seed, but a 1-2 record in their conference tournament, combined with a 6-7 record against the top 25, probably eliminated that opportunity.

12. Rice (39-17, 9): With that RPI, a No. 8 strength of schedule, plus the fact that the Owls did it with a couple of key pitchers hurt most of the year, Rice probably gets a shot to host. However, there’s one pretty big flaw here: Rice was just 8-10 against the top 50, including 3-6 against the top 25.

13. Miami (39-17, 15): Hurricanes racked up a gaudy 24-6 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but it should be noted that 11 of those wins came against teams that were 142 or worse in the RPI. Still, with a 17-5 road record and an 11-11 mark against the top 50, the ‘Canes probably deserve to stay home.

14. Houston (43-15, 12): The Cougars racked up 26 of their wins (and six losses) against triple-digit RPI teams, but fared okay (8-8) against the top 50.

15. LSU (42-14, 12): The Tigers, at 11-4 in their last 15, are playing well down the stretch. LSU’s biggest issue is a 4-7 mark against the top 25, though at 10-5 against the next 25 and just two losses to triple-digit RPI teams, it probably deserves to host.

16. Oklahoma St. (43-15, 19): There’s one really big problem with the Cowboys, and that’s a 10-8 mark against RPI teams 51-100. Everything else — 15-5 against the top 50, 21-7 away from home — suggests that OSU should be hosting.

Just missed:
Texas Tech (40-18, 17) probably misses out due to a 6-10 mark against the top 25, what is by far the worst record away from home (9-14) of teams I considered, and an 8-7 mark down the stretch. … Louisville (44-14, 20) will get consideration, but 38 of the Cardinals’ wins (and seven of their losses) came to teams 100 or worse in the RPI. … Cal-Poly (45-10, 15) could host because of geographical factors, but that gaudy record came against the No. 146 strength of schedule and it didn’t play a single top 25 team. A 4-4 mark against teams 26-50 is respectable, but shouldn’t be enough to boot a more deserving squad.