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Virginia Baseball eyes the postseason as a possible regional host

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Here’s an early look at National Seeds and Regional Hosts

College World Series - Virginia v Vanderbilt - Game Two Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

NCAA Baseball’s Selection Monday is just a week away, and in what has become an annual tradition (14 years and counting) for Virginia, the Hoos will be using the week to prep for the NCAA Tournament. After coming into the year with question marks about whether or not they could keep the streak alive, the Hoos have delivered, winning over 40 games for the 11th time in 14 years and playing their way into the Regional Host conversation.

While 41 wins is gaudy, their resume leaves much to be desired. Virginia’s non-conference strength of schedule is a terrible 221, so their stout 23-1 non-conference record doesn’t hold much water. Their best non-conference wins are against ODU (44), Kansas (59), and Liberty (62) twice. Add to that, the ACC is down with only 4 of 10 of UVA’s conference opponents ranked in the Top 45 of the RPI. For comparison sake, here are three resumes for consideration.

Blind Resume Comparison

Team Overall Conference RPI vs. Top 50 vs. Top 51-100 Series W vs T35
Team Overall Conference RPI vs. Top 50 vs. Top 51-100 Series W vs T35
A 36-18 19-11 16 14-15 5-3 5
B 41-13 18-12 13 8-8 7-2 1
C 33-19 15-15 19 14-10 5-3 4

Putting a premium on quality wins and a team’s ability to beat tournament-caliber competition in a three game series, I rank these Teams A, C, B. You probably already know that Team B is Virginia, but so is Team A and so is Team C. This is a comparison of resumes of the last three UVA teams heading into the ACC Tournament. Team A was last year’s team that lost in the Charlottesville Regional and Team C is the College World Series Champions who, some would argue, needed a sweep of UNC on the final weekend just to make the Tournament. That team ended up as the third seed in the Lake Elsinore Regional, which is to say that, though this year’s squad’s resume looks good, a Regional Host is not guaranteed.

Luckily, Virginia’s resume will be compared to teams from this year’s season, not ghosts of Virginia postseasons past. And this year’s resume compares favorably. While the resume doesn’t include the top flight wins of others, it has no glaring weaknesses. Virginia has minimal losses outside of the Top 100 and though they lost several series, they were never swept.

Heading into conference tournaments, the top 6-7 teams seem pretty clear. But after that, there are about 15 squads who can legitimately stake a case to host a regional. Here’s how I see things shaping up as of now.

National Seeds

  1. Oregon State
  2. North Carolina
  3. Florida
  4. Texas Tech
  5. Louisville
  6. LSU
  7. TCU
  8. Stanford

Regional Hosts

Kentucky, Southern Miss, Wake Forest, Virginia, Clemson, Arkansas, Long Beach State, South Florida

Starting at the top, Oregon State has been the class of the country all season long, though North Carolina and Florida are making a late push for national supremacy. Stanford draws the final National Seed for me. Their resume is a lot like Virginia’s in its consistency, though they have a few more elite series wins that I think gives then the nod for now. Kentucky, Southern Miss, or any of the three ACC hosts could make a claim for that final spot with a run to a conference tournament title.

Speaking of the ACC, after UNC and Louisville, the next three teams are all looking for a strong ACC Tournament performance to solidify hosting duties. Virginia and Wake Forest are very similar. So similar in fact that, had Wake Forest lost their game to Pitt Saturday the ACC HQ would have had to go all the way down to twelfth place in the standings to find a win percentage differential among similar opponents. I’d give a tie breaker to the Demon Deacons due to their significant difference in non-conference strength of schedule.

As far as Clemson is concerned, they’re a team in a tailspin. The Tigers were looking like a strong contender for a National Seed, but have lost four of their last five series and fell to the fifth seed in the ACC Tournament. They’ll be matched with the Cavaliers in Pool D of the ACC Tournament and the winner will be all but guaranteed a Regional Host honor while the loser may be left to sweat out the weekend.

Staying in the ACC for NCAA Tournament implications, keep an eye on Florida State and Miami. The Seminoles enter the postseason coming off a series win against Louisville, and have risen to 16 in the RPI. A strong ACC Tournament and they could make a push at a possible hosting bid. And on the other side of the Sunshine State, Miami needs a strong showing to avoid missing the tournament for the first time in 44 years. The Hurricanes are 47th in the RPI, and sport a shoddy 6-15 mark against the top 50. Their best series performance was a spilt against FSU with the third game being rained out. They’ll need to win a game or two to feel good about their streak continuing, otherwise it could be a quiet June in Coral Gables.

Going back to the national landscape, the final host spot goes to South Florida. For now, this is more of a placeholder for the winner of American Athletic Conference. Houston and Central Florida join the Bulls as having host-quality measures, but only one can earn the distinction. Look for the conference tournament to break the tie.

It should be a fun week in College Baseball as we march towards Omaha. The ACC Tournament kicks off from Louisville Tuesday, May 23rd when Miami faces off against Georgia Tech. Virginia’s week starts Thursday May 25th at 11 AM when they face Duke. Stay with Streaking the Lawn as we bring you all your ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament coverage.