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UVA Baseball: NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch

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Virginia is playing some of their best baseball of the season and it couldn't come at a better time. Right now, projections have them on the right side of the bubble, but for comparisons sake, here are the resumes of some of the teams in direct competition for those last at-large berths.

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Last week I discussed what the Hoos needed to do to put them in position to make the NCAA Tournament. And by all measures they did exactly that, taking two of three from the ninth-ranked Miami Hurricanes, dispatching Longwood 14-6, and picking up another valuable Top 50 RPI win over the Liberty Flames. The series loss at NC State was a setback, but the overall resume is still strong.  This week, I will look at some of the teams in Virginia's RPI neighborhood that will compete for the final at-large berths come the end of May. Utilizing D1baseball.com's Field of 64 Tournament predictions, I looked at the other No. 3 regional seeds and compared their resumes to Virginia's. In addition, I took a look at the resumes for some notable omissions with RPIs that appear to be tournament caliber.

Virginia: RPI 33
Overall Record: 26-17
Conference Record: 10-14
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 12-8; 3 series wins
Quality Wins: Miami x2, FSU, @GT, @ND x3, @East Carolina x3, @Liberty, Liberty
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): Georgetown, VMI

Teams currently in D1Baseball's projections as a #3 Seed

Oregon State: RPI 37
Overall Record: 27-13
Conference Record: 10-8
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 6-5; One series win
Quality Wins: @UCLA, USC x2, @ASU, OK State, Mich St
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): None

The Beavers benefit from playing in the PAC-12 and they have taken advantage by beating both UCLA and Arizona State on the road. However, until this weekend they hadn't played that high a caliber of baseball over an entire weekend.  They were one of the few teams discussed here that improved their stock by taking a series over USC.

Rice: RPI 41
Overall Record: 29-16
Conference Record: 17-7
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 1-3; No series wins
Quality Wins: Houston
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): @Sam Houston State

The Owls are a perennial contender and normally dominate Conference USA. That distinction belongs to the Owls from Florida Atlantic this year. The two teams will meet in Boca Raton May 8-10 in a series that could solidify Rice's at-large case.

Cal State Fullerton: RPI 43
Overall Record: 22-20
Conference Record: 8-4
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 3-6; No series wins
Quality Wins: Louisville, @Neb, @MD
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): None

The Titans won a big series over fellow bubble team UC Irvine this weekend in what may prove to be an elimination series down the line. Outside of the conference, the win over Louisville is nice and the road wins over two of the Big Ten's best are solid, but otherwise there just isn't much there. No bad losses is a good thing for the Titans, however based on their overall body of work, they probably don't have much room for error.

UC Irvine: RPI 52
Overall Record: 24-16
Conference Record: 11-4
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 3-6; No series wins
Quality Wins: USC, @Cal State Fullerton, @Cal
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): San Jose St.

The Anteaters gave up a chance to solidify their resume, dropping their weekend series at Cal State Fullerton.  They are still leading the always solid Big West Conference, and will still have an opportunity to build on a good, not great resume in mid-May when they head to UC Santa Barbara to face the Gauchos. That weekend looks like a must win for Irvine.

Texas Tech: RPI 67
Overall Record: 27-17
Conference Record: 10-8
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 3-9; No series wins
Quality Wins: TCU, @Ok State, Oral Roberts
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): None

I am a bit surprised by Texas Tech's inclusion in this projection as their best series win came against number 76 Kansas State just last weekend. Only 2-8 against the top 50 and I see their chances of making the tournament shaky at best. They lost out on a chance to pick up a solid series win this past weekend at Oklahoma State.

South Carolina: RPI 71
Overall Record: 26-19
Conference Record: 9-12
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 8-8; 3 series wins
Quality Wins: Vanderbilt x2, Charleston x2, Kentucky x3, @Missouri
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): None

Going into the weekend the Gamecocks  were looking to be putting themselves in position to make a tournament run however, they dropped a series at Tennessee and saw their RPI drop from 62 to 71. Their three series wins against top 50 competition alone should be good enough to secure them playing time in June, but they are going to have to pick up a couple more series wins down the road and improve their resume that much more.  Beating Texas A&M May 8-10 would be a good start.

Teams with solid RPI that did not make the projected field

Kentucky: RPI 30
Overall Record: 25-17
Conf Record: 10-10
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 6-9; 2 series win
Quality Wins:  @LSU x2, @Florida x2, @UC Santa Barbara, @Arkansas
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): None

Their series wins @LSU and @Florida this weekend are probably the best of any of the teams that are listed here; however, the Wildcats have been fairly pedestrian otherwise. Even in the SEC, they haven't racked up the Top 50 wins. We found out a lot about this team as they won at Florida. They will have more opportunities with visits from Vanderbilt, then after a weekend with Georgia, finishing the season at Missouri.  They look like a tournament team right now, but we will certainly know it by June.

Michigan State: RPI 31
Overall Record: 25-17
Conference Record: 9-6
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 4-9; No series wins
Quality Wins: @Ohio State, Illinois, @Coastal Carolina, Oregon State
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): Houston Baptist

My hat is off to MSU for even playing baseball. They didn't play their first home game until the 24th of March. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to play so many games in South Carolina Wait, what? They have played an ambitious schedule, and beat many teams that are normally better than they are this year (e.g. Oregon, Clemson). But when you play in the Big 10, you have to take advantage of the few chances for resume-building weekends and unfortunately for the Spartans they didn't do that when they faced Ohio State and Illinois.

East Carolina: RPI 44
Overall Record: 29-16
Conference Record: 9-6
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 6-11; Two series wins
Quality Wins: @South Florida, @UCONN x2, Memphis, Tulane x2
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): None

Over the past week, East Carolina has played their way into the at-large conversation.  After struggling early in the season to pick up quality wins, East Carolina has since picked up two series wins over top 50 competition.  In addition, the American Athletic Conference is the third ranked conference in RPI.  With a solid finish in conference, the Pirates are team that could sneak into the tournament.

Liberty: RPI 46
Overall Record: 28-16
Conference Record: 14-4
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 2-7; No series wins
Quality Wins: @Radford, East Carolina
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): @Longwood, UNC Greensboro

As a small conference school, Liberty has to take every opportunity it can to build up good wins during the mid-week. Going 0-5 against their top-tier mid-week competition (UNC twice, UVA twice, and UMD) will ultimately be their undoing. Adding to that is their lost opportunity for a solid weekend series win against Radford. The Flames likely have to win the Big South Tournament to receive an invite to this year's dance.

Alabama: RPI 47
Overall Record: 23-20
Conference Record: 8-13
Record vs Top 50 RPI: 5-14; No series wins
Quality Wins: @Florida, Texas A&M, @Houston, LA-Lafayette, @Ole Miss
Bad Losses (150+ RPI): None

Playing in the loaded SEC is both a blessing and a curse. Not many teams have the chance to play 19 games against the top 50, however in order to make the tournament you have to beat some of them. Similar to Texas Tech, their best series win came against number 90, Lipscomb...yes, Lipscomb.

To sum it all up, someone has to make the NCAA Tournament. With all of these team's flaws, it is amazing that at least half of them will make the tournament. Losing this weekend at NC State certainly did not help Virginia's cause, but the resume is still solid.  Pitching will continue to be a question mark, but the lineup is strong.  If the Hoos can take one of the next two series and take care of business in their final two mid-week games they should be just fine.