Field of dreamers:
Phil Stanton and Sean Ryan
As the league tournaments continue, we offer some thoughts about
the impact on the NCAA tournament. An abbreviated Field of
Georgia Tech's late-season slide may cost it a Regional bid.
We had the Yellow Jackets hosting, but after losing its series
to Duke and dropping their first two games in the ACC tourney,
they may be hitting the road. Virginia, Arkansas or dare we say
Georgia might seize the opportunity.
Baylor got a key win over Texas to open the Big 12 tourney
but fell against Kansas State. The Bears are still auditioning.
Somebody steal Cinderella's slippers! That's what the bubble
teams are telling the likes of the Big South, Big Ten, Mountain
West and Conference USA. Liberty, Winthrop, Indiana, Utah and
Southern Miss have chances to win automatic bids. Top seeds
George Mason (CAA), Eastern Illinois (OVC) and Missouri State
(MVC) have already been bounced from their conference tourneys
and hope to receive at-large bids.
TCU entered the Mountain West tourney with a shot at a
national seed. The Horned Frogs have lost twice and are out of
the MWC tourney. They'll likely host and possibly be shipped to
Texas for the Super Regionals should they both survive. Speaking
of the Mountain West, San Diego State is in the title game with
Utah. If the Aztecs come up short, they may have done enough to
grab an at-large, especially considering they boast the nation's
best pitcher in Stephen Strasburg.
Rhode Island is playing well in the Atlantic 10 tourney.
With a RPI of 51, the Rams are knocking on the at-large door.
And the committee will probably listen.
Dallas Baptist has no conference affiliation. The Patriots
are watching what's going on with great interest. DBU sits with
a RPI of 37 and looks to benefit as the bubble bursts for many
Seventh Inning Stretch
What to make of Auburn and Oklahoma State.Every year the
committee pulls out a surprise, and the Tigers and Cowboys hope
they get a call. Neither made their tourneys, but both have RPIs
in the top 32. Six one-run losses, including two 7-6 defeats at
LSU, will stick with Auburn; six one-run defeats also will stick
Rice had its conference title streak ended at 13 when it
dropped two of three to UAB the final weekend of the year to
finish in second in Conference USA. Maybe that's what the Owls
needed as they've rolled in their first three games in the
conference tourney, winning by a combined score of 28-3. Or
maybe it's just getting pitchers Ryan Berry and Mike Ojala
Note to the nation: Elon can hit. The Phoenix rank second in
the country in scoring (10.7 runs a game) and have scored 25 in
its first two Southern Conference games. Elon has scored in
double figures in 14 of its past 15.
We may reconsider, but the bubble appears to have burst for
College of Charleston (RPI 62) and BYU (59). Still playing and
fighting for recognition: Notre Dame (64), Troy (66), Southern
Miss (61), Tulane (68), Missouri State (65), among others.
(photo courtesy of Georgia Media