Field of dreamers
Phil Stanton and Sean Ryan
Maydness is approaching
May Madness – or what we call Maydness – is near.
With March Madness just completed on the hardwood, it whets the
appetite for the college baseball postseason.
We take our first look at the potential field.
This is the earliest we have done Field of Dreamers, so much can
change between now and Selection Monday. We have projected many
of the bubble teams to be included in the Field of 64, even
though they might not get in if picks were made today. The team
records are through games of Monday, April 4, as are the RPIs
(courtesy of Boyd Nation at
Without further ado, here’s our early look the
Field of 64 (happy teams in bold).
America East (1) –
Stony Brook (0-0, 16-6, RPI 70) has been the most
impressive team to date. The preseason favorite is the only
squad with a winning record. We still think Maine (0-0, 9-16)
will be a factor. The Black Bears have won three straight and
four of their past five. Maine travels to Stony Brook this
weekend to kick off conference play.
ACC (7) – This top-heavy league has three teams from the
Coastal Division fighting for national seeds in Virginia
(11-1, 28-2, RPI 3), resurgent North Carolina (10-2,
26-4, RPI 4) and Georgia Tech (11-1, 23-6, RPI 5).
Florida State (8-4, 21-7, RPI 10) and Clemson (4-8,
14-12, RPI 13) are battling to host regionals. The Tigers
need to bolster their overall record to be a No. 1 seed.
Miami (8-3, 17-11, RPI 37) and NC State (5-7, 17-12, RPI
45) are in for now, but need to improve their overall
records to stay. Georgia Tech hosts Virginia this weekend in a
huge series, while North Carolina goes to Florida State in
another important set.
Atlantic Sun (2) – Stetson (9-3, 22-7, RPI 30) was
picked fifth in the preseason poll, but the Hatters have been
impressive so far. Stetson already owns a series sweep of
preseason co-favorite Mercer (8-6, 21-9, RPI 63) and a series
win over ETSU (8-5, 16-8, RPI 23). We still think the
Bears, Kennesaw State (8-3, 18-12) and Jacksonville (7-5, 17-11,
RPI 50) will be in the mix. But the Hatters and the Bucs get the
nod for now, although we expect the RPIs to drop as they get
deeper into conference play. This weekend, Stetson hosts
Kennesaw State, ETSU entertains Lipscomb (3-6, 11-17) and
Jacksonville goes to Mercer.
Atlantic 10 (1) –
Charlotte (5-1, 23-6, RPI 82) put together a strong week
with a home win over North Carolina and a three-game sweep of
Xavier (2-4, 16-13, RPI 90). Rhode Island (3-3, 13-12, RPI 62)
has played a difficult schedule, but not enough wins. This looks
to be a one-bid league, with Charlotte our pick for now. The
49ers go to Saint Joseph’s (3-3, 10-17) this weekend, while
Rhode Island welcomes Saint Louis (1-2, 18-10) and Richmond
(3-0, 15-11-2) goes to Xavier.
Big East (2) – After
getting three bids a year ago, the Big East got off to a
disappointing start. Louisville (4-2, 18-9, RPI 51) and
Connecticut (5-1, 14-10, RPI 75) struggled out of the
gates, but are showing signs of life. The Huskies were
impressive this past weekend with a sweep of St. John’s (3-3,
13-12, RPI 61). We think two teams will play their way into
bids, with Louisville and UConn the favorites for now. This
weekend, Louisville goes to Cincinnati (3-3, 13-12), Connecticut
travels to Notre Dame (3-3, 11-14) and St. John’s heads to Seton
Hall (3-3, 12-13).
Big South (1) – Speaking of disappointments, Coastal
Carolina (4-2, 18-10, RPI 85) did not lose a conference game
in 2010, but dropped two of three two weeks ago at UNC Asheville
(4-5, 10-17), the team picked to finish ninth in the league. The
Chanticleers quickly turned around their fortunes as they swept
first-place Liberty (5-4, 15-14, RPI 87) this past weekend. This
should be a very interesting conference race this year. We think
Coastal Carolina will prevail, especially after its strong
showing against the Flames. This weekend, the Chants go to
Presbyterian (4-5, 17-11), Liberty travels to High Point (3-6,
15-15, RPI 65) and UNCA heads to Winthrop (6-3, 14-13).
Big Ten (1) – There were no sweeps last weekend to start
conference play, which could be an indicator of another tight
race. Preseason favorite Minnesota (2-1, 10-9, RPI 96)
has struggled as the road warriors, but the Gophers had a
sluggish start a year ago before catching fire. Minnesota won
its opening league series with Purdue (1-2, 17-10). Michigan
State (2-1, 17-7, RPI 84) swept a three-game nonconference set
at Michigan two weeks ago before winning its series at Iowa
(1-2, 10-15) this past weekend. The Spartans entertain the
Gophers this weekend in a huge series. We think Minnesota will
mirror its run from a year ago and be there at the end of May,
but we’re going to keep an eye on Michigan State and Indiana
(2-1, 18-9, RPI 94). The Hoosiers welcome Ohio State (2-1,
10-11, RPI 99).
Big 12 (6) – There are three Big 12 teams fighting to be
regional hosts: Texas A&M (7-2, 22-6, RPI 9), Oklahoma
(5-3, 22-6, RPI 20) and Texas (7-2, 21-7, RPI 31).
Baylor (4-5, 17-12, RPI 39), Oklahoma State (5-4, 21-7,
RPI 41) and Texas Tech (4-5, 17-11, RPI 43) are in
good shape for now. This weekend, Texas A&M goes to Texas Tech,
OU heads to Kansas State (2-7, 16-11) and Texas battles with
Big West (3) – Cal State Fullerton (3-0, 20-8, RPI 19)
has won eight straight, including a three-game sweep of UC Davis
(0-3, 5-18) this past weekend to start league play. UC Irvine
(3-0, 18-6, RPI 44) also had a sweep to start Big West play,
coming at the expense of Cal State Northridge (0-3, 14-14). The
Titans entertain the Anteaters this weekend in the top
conference series of the season. If Long Beach State (2-1,
14-12, RPI 34) can finish in the top three in the Big West
standings, it will give three bids to the league. The Dirtbags
host UC Davis this weekend.
Colonial (1) – It
doesn’t look like an at-large will come out of the CAA, but it
should be a run ride to watch the teams fight for those four
precious spots in the conference tournament. James Madison
(10-5, 20-9, RPI 122) has been pounding the baseball all
season and is our early pick to outlast the competition.
Delaware (8-4, 15-13, RPI 81) and UNC Wilmington (6-3, 14-11)
are both tied with the Dukes with a winning percentage of .667
in league play. William and Mary (9-6, 16-15), Old Dominion
(7-5, 14-15) and Georgia State (5-4, 22-8) are right behind the
leaders. This weekend, JMU hosts GSU, UD goes to UNCW and ODU
welcomes Towson (6-6, 11-16-1).
Conference USA (5) – After talking about some
disappointing leagues, Conference USA is a pleasant surprise.
C-USA only had two bids a year ago, but there looks to be more
than that in 2011. Southern Miss (5-1, 22-5, RPI 2) has
been impressive, with a series win over Tulane (1-5, 18-6, RPI
47) two weeks ago and a sweep at UCF (2-4, 19-9, RPI 32)
this past weekend. Houston (3-0, 15-14, RPI 36) earned a
sweep at Tulane and needs to boost its overall record to stay in
the at-large picture. Rice (4-2, 21-11, RPI 21) and
East Carolina (3-3, 20-7, RPI 22) are in good shape for now.
This will be another fun conference race to watch. This weekend,
Southern Miss goes to Memphis (1-2, 16-11), ECU hosts Rice,
Houston welcomes UAB (4-2, 16-11, RPI 64) and Tulane travels to
Great West (0) – All
teams have struggled so far, with Texas-Pan American (0-0, 9-8)
the only squad over .500. No automatic bid or at-large bid this
Horizon (1) –
Wright State (5-1, 15-9) was the preseason favorite and has
started strong in conference play. UIC (4-2, 12-12) and
Milwaukee (2-1, 7-16) should challenge, but we think the Raiders
will rule. Milwaukee goes to UIC this weekend in the top
Independents (1) –
Cal State Bakersfield (20-7, RPI 40) has been solid
against a strong early schedule, including wins over Arizona
State and at South Carolina. We think the Roadrunners will be
ready for their first regional run.
Ivy (1) – Penn
(4-0, 12-10) and Princeton (4-0, 9-13) both swept a pair of
doubleheaders this past weekend to start league play and sit
atop the Lou Gehrig Division. Dartmouth (2-2, 12-6) and Yale
(2-2, 12-10) are tied for first in the Red Rolfe Division. Since
Penn already has a pair of wins over Dartmouth, we think the
Quakers will outlast the competition in the Ivy League.
Metro Atlantic (1) –
Marist (4-2, 19-6, RPI 57) has been impressive so far,
winning 14 of 17 away from home to start the season before
taking two of three from Fairfield (1-2, 7-11) and two of three
at Canisius (4-2, 12-16) to open MAAC play. We like the Red
Foxes, but they will be challenged by Manhattan (6-0, 12-11),
Rider (5-1, 15-10) and Canisius (3-0, 9-14). Marist entertains
Rider this weekend, while Manhattan goes to Saint Peter’s (2-1,
Mid-American (1) –
Kent State (5-1, 15-10) is the preseason pick in the MAC,
and we like the Golden Flashes, but it isn’t going to be easy.
Miami (4-2, 13-14) swept a three-game series from West favorite
Central Michigan two weeks ago and should battle Kent State for
the East crown. Eastern Michigan (5-1, 18-10) has started strong
in the West. Kent State hosts EMU this weekend, while Miami goes
to Northern Illinois (4-2, 10-14).
Mid-Eastern (1) – As has been the case for many years,
Bethune-Cookman (3-0, 15-14) looks to be the dominant team
again in the MEAC. The Wildcats swept a series from Florida A&M
(2-4, 10-22) two weeks ago, piling up 29 runs in three games.
And Bethune-Cookman will host the MEAC Tournament this season.
Bethune-Cookman travels to North Carolina A&T (2-3, 8-18) this
Missouri Valley (1)
– This could be a very competitive race in the MVC. Wichita
State (0-0, 18-11, RPI 121) has solid wins against Tulane,
Arizona (twice) and Oregon (twice). Creighton (0-0, 20-5, RPI
74) and Illinois State (0-0, 19-7) could be formidable foes for
the Shockers. We think the Shockers will outlast the competition
and take the league’s one bid. Wichita State goes to Missouri
State (0-0, 16-10) to kick off conference play this weekend,
while Creighton heads to Illinois State.
Mountain West (1) –
Many thought TCU (5-1, 18-9, RPI 33) would roll through
its schedule on its way to a return trip to Omaha. But the
Horned Frogs have struggled at times. TCU took two of three from
UNLV (2-6, 19-10) and swept Air Force (0-5, 11-17) to open its
conference schedule. Utah (5-2, 12-10, RPI 76) and New Mexico
(4-2, 9-20) have had good league starts. TCU entertains New
Mexico this weekend, while the Utes head to San Diego State
(3-3, 9-19). We think the Frogs will hop alone into the NCAA
Tournament, but Utah could make a run again.
Northeast (1) –
Monmouth (8-4, 13-12) took three of four from preseason
favorite CCSU (6-6, 9-11-1) to move into a first-place tie with
Quinnipiac (8-4, 12-10). We think the Hawks fly high the rest of
the way to take the NEC bid. Monmouth goes to Quinnipiac this
weekend and CCSU entertains Mount St. Mary’s (5-7, 12-13).
Ohio Valley (1) –
Jacksonville State (4-2, 19-9) has had the best start in the
OVC and took two of three from UT Martin (1-2, 5-18) and at
Tennessee Tech (1-2, 9-16) to open league play. We think the
Gamecocks will be challenged by Southeast Missouri State (3-2,
15-12), but will survive and advance to the NCAA Tournament. JSU
goes to Murray State (3-2, 12-14) this weekend, while Southeast
Missouri travels to Tennessee Tech.
Pac-10 (6) – After a record-setting year in 2010, the
Pac-10 has slipped a bit this season. Arizona State (5-1,
21-6, RPI 6) and Stanford (2-1, 13-7, RPI 8) will
battle for national seeds. California (5-1, 19-6, RPI 26)
and Oregon State (2-1, 20-7, RPI 27) are in good shape.
We think Arizona (2-4, 20-9, RPI 56) and UCLA (5-1,
19-6, RPI 93) will do enough work to earn a bid. Washington
State (1-5, 11-12, RPI 38) and Oregon (0-3, 14-12, RPI 73) both
have a chance to earn at-large bids, but need series wins in
conference play. This weekend, ASU goes to OSU, Stanford travels
to USC (2-4, 10-18), Cal heads to Arizona and UCLA visits WSU.
Patriot (1) –
Preseason favorite Army (4-0, 11-13) struggled during its
nonconference slate, but swept a four-game series at Holy Cross
(0-4, 12-14). Navy (3-1, 17-12-1) took three of four at Lehigh
(1-3, 16-11) and Lafayette (3-1, 9-15) won three of four against
Bucknell (1-3, 12-16). We think the Black Knights will continue
to improve, especially against league opponents. This weekend,
Army entertains Navy, Lehigh goes to Lafayette and Bucknell
visits Holy Cross.
Southeastern (9) – There again are a plethora of strong
teams in the SEC. Florida (7-2, 24-5, RPI 1), South
Carolina (7-2, 22-5, RPI 7) and Vanderbilt (7-2, 26-3,
RPI 11) will fight for national seeds as well as the top
spot in the East. Ole Miss (4-5, 19-10, RPI 14), LSU
(3-6, 20-8, RPI 17), Alabama (7-2, 21-9, RPI 28) and
Arkansas (3-6, 19-8, RPI 29) are in good shape now for
bids. Auburn (2-7, 15-13, RPI 15) and Mississippi
State (4-5, 19-9, RPI 46) should be able to get enough wins
to earn at-large spots. We are not sure Georgia (6-3, 14-14, RPI
16) will get enough victories to stay above .500 and qualify for
Southern (2) – The
Southern Conference got three bids a year ago and could send
multiple teams again this season. Elon (9-3, 18-11, RPI 35)
has risen to the top of the standings along with Georgia
Southern (9-3, 18-11, RPI 54). UNC Greensboro (8-4, 16-10)
and Samford (8-4, 19-11, RPI 72) are right behind the leaders,
as is College of Charleston (6-3, 19-9, RPI 53). We think
College of Charleston could be in the at-large pool by the end
of the season, but we’re putting in Georgia Southern for now
because of its series win over the Cougars. Elon entertains
Wofford this weekend, while UNCG goes to Davidson (6-8, 13-14),
Sanford heads to Western Carolina (2-10, 11-14-1) and College of
Charleston visits The Citadel (5-10, 10-18).
Southland (1) –
Texas State (10-2, 19-8, RPI 18) not only is in the
conversation for an at-large bid, but also could be a No. 1
seed. The Bobcats have played a strong schedule with a win at
Baylor and losses to Rice, Texas and TCU. Texas State is one
game ahead of Stephen F. Austin (9-3, 20-9) and three ahead of
Southeastern Louisiana (7-5, 19-10, RPI 52), Lamar (7-5, 19-12,
RPI 92) and UT Arlington (7-5, 15-13). This is another league
which could get a second bid. We think Southeastern Louisiana
could get a spot if it moves up the conference standings. This
weekend, Texas State goes to Central Arkansas (4-8, 13-16), UTSA
(4-8, 11-18) goes to Stephen F. Austin, UTA entertains SLU and
Lamar hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (6-6, 20-11, RPI 71).
Southwestern (1) –
Southern (10-2, 17-9) holds a two-game lead over
Grambling State (8-4, 13-13) in the Western Division.
Mississippi Valley State (8-3, 12-17) is tied with Alcorn State
(8-3, 10-16) in the Eastern Division. We think the Jaguars take
Summit (1) – After
years of dominance, South Dakota State (0-0, 9-9) finally caught
Oral Roberts (0-0, 10-11) to earn a share of the
regular-season title a year ago. The Golden Eagles did win the
conference tournament, but the field has closed in on ORU. We
think the Eagles still have the best team, but it will be a
fight. The Eagles host Centenary (0-0, 3-13) this week to start
conference play, while SDSU goes to Western Illinois (0-0,
Sun Belt (1) – As it
was a year ago, this is going to be a fun conference race.
Troy (8-1, 22-5, RPI 24) holds a two-game lead over Western
Kentucky (6-3, 17-11, RPI 80) and Louisiana-Lafayette (6-3,
16-11, RPI 69). Florida Atlantic (5-4, 17-11, RPI 78) took a hit
by getting swept by ULL this past weekend. FIU (4-5, 18-10, RPI
42) must move up the conference standings to be in the at-large
hunt. We will give one bid to the Sun Belt for now, but that
could increase. This weekend, FIU goes to Troy, ULL heads to WKU
and FAU travels to South Alabama (4-5, 14-13).
West Coast (1) –
Gonzaga (0-0, 16-8-1, RPI 25) has put together a strong
start, including a three-game sweep of UC Irvine two weeks ago.
Pepperdine (0-0, 14-13, RPI 55) will not be eligible for a spot
in the NCAA Tournament due to self-imposed sanctions. Loyola
Marymount (0-0, 16-10, RPI 68) has work to do to get into the
at-large discussion. Preseason favorite San Diego (0-0, 7-18)
has struggled mightily, but should still be a factor in the WCC
race. As conference play begins this weekend, USD goes to
Gonzaga, LMU heads to Santa Clara (0-0, 12-13) and Pepperdine
visits Portland (0-0, 10-14).
Western Athletic (1)
– Fresno State (0-0, 20-3, RPI 12) has been superb and
could make another run for a national championship. New Mexico
State (0-0, 22-6, RPI 179) has been hot, winning 11 of its past
12. As league play commences this weekend, FSU goes to San Jose
State (0-0, 19-8) and NMSU visits Louisiana Tech (0-0, 15-12).
Last five in:
Connecticut, Georgia Southern, Long Beach State, Houston, Auburn
First five out:
Georgia, Tulane, Jacksonville, FIU, Southeastern Louisiana