There's no shortage of articles out there that focus on Virginia Baseball's struggles this year. Whether due to injuries or just offensive woes, the top-ranked team in the preseason now finds themselves out of the Top 25 altogether in what's been a roller coaster season already.
And despite the disappointment so far, surprisingly enough, the Hoos' chances to make the NCAA Tournament aren't as bad as one may think, which really shows just how high the bar has been for Virginia Baseball during Coach O'Connor's tenure. However, just for grins, let's take look and see where this team is and what they need to do to feel safe on Selection Monday.
Conference Record: 7-11, Tied 10th
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 6-7
Good Wins: FSU, @GT, @ND x 3
Bad Losses: VMI
That isn't the profile that Virginia fans have become accustomed to seeing at this point in the season. Helping the Hoos is a road sweep against a Notre Dame team that is currently playing very good baseball coming off a series sweep over Florida State. Hurting is an overall lack of wins, a poor ACC record, and a bad loss against RPI sub-200, VMI.
With just 16 games remaining, the Hoos have plenty of work left ahead of them. To explore exactly what the Hoos have to do, let's look at the profile of some of the teams from power conferences who were the last to make the NCAA tournament in 2014 (all earned a 3 seed in last year's regional round)
|Team||Reg Season Wins||Reg Season RPI Top 50 Wins|
Upon looking at those numbers, the magic number for overall wins is about 32-33 while winning 9-10 games against the Top 50 helps your chances as well. In order for Virginia to reach those benchmarks they would need to win 10 of their remaining 16 games, and would need 4 more Top 50 wins. Luckily, the ACC schedule provides ample opportunity to rack up quality wins as UVA has 10 more games against Top 50 competition (Miami x3, Liberty, Duke x3, and UNC x3).
To make things simple, if UVA wins the remainder of their mid-week games and wins 3 of the 4 remaining series (not assuming a sweep), their overall record would stand 33-19, 14-16 in conference, and 12-11 against the RPI Top-50. That looks like a candidate for an at-large berth; however, getting there won't be easy.
This weekend will tell a lot. The return of Joe McCarthy and the ACC debut of Jack Gerstenmaier should provide a spark to the offense. If the Hoos can come away from the weekend series victorious, it will go a long way towards an NCAA Tournament resume. However, should they fall, all is not lost as there are still chances to pick up quality wins, but as the weeks wear on, those chances will get slimmer and slimmer.
RPI information courtesy of Warren Nolan