May 6, 2011

Field of Dreamers

The month of Maydness is here


By Phil Stanton and Sean Ryan



We have turned the calendar and we’ve reached Maydness (May Madness).


There are teams strengthening their resumes, while others are playing their way out. The first official bid will be awarded this weekend, as Dartmouth heads to Princeton for the Ivy League Championship Series.


Here’s our weekly look at the potential field, with records through Wednesday, May 5. RPI info is courtesy of Boyd Nation at


Here’s our look the Field of 64 (happy teams in bold).


America East (1) – The standings tightened as first-place Stony Brook (11-2, 30-10, RPI 90) took two of three from Binghamton (9-4, 17-20), while Albany (9-4, 17-22) and Maine (9-5, 19-21) swept series to close in on the Seawolves. We think Stony Brook maintains its lead and goes on to win the conference tourney. The Seawolves go to Hartford (1-11, 3-34-1) this weekend, while Binghamton hosts UMBC (0-13, 7-30) and Maine travels to Albany.


ACC (7) – Wow, there are six ACC teams in the Top 10 in RPI: Virginia (20-4 43-5, RPI 2), North Carolina (13-8, 34-10, RPI 5), Florida State (16-8, 34-11, RPI 7), Georgia Tech (18-6, 31-14, RPI 8), Clemson (13-11, 29-15, RPI 9) and Miami (16-7, 29-15, RPI 10). All have a chance at a national seed and to host a regional. NC State (11-13, 26-19, RPI 33) is still solid, but needs to keep collecting wins. The Tar Heels host Maryland (5-19, 20-29), while most of the others schools break for final exams.

Atlantic Sun (2)Stetson (17-4, 34-10,
RPI 16) got a sweep at UNF (12-12, 24-19, RPI 82) to keep its hold on first. Jacksonville (16-8, 27-17, RPI 50) took two of three at FGCU (11-10, 22-23) to stay in second. The Hatters are in good shape, but the Dolphins are one of our last few to make the field. ETSU (12-10, 28-15, RPI 36) needs to move up the conference standings to return to the at-large picture. Stetson goes to FGCU this week, while JU entertains UNF.


Atlantic 10 (1) – Rhode Island (12-6, 26-17, RPI 55) pulled to within a game of first-place Charlotte (13-5, 34-10, RPI 101) with its sweep of Temple (3-12, 21-21). The Rams host Massachusetts (6-9, 15-23) this week, while the 49ers welcome Richmond (9-6, 22-19-2). Charlotte remains our pick, but URI continues to make its case and is creeping into at-large consideration.


Big East (1) – First-place Connecticut (15-3, 31-13-1, RPI 57) won two of three at Rutgers to open a three-game lead on the field. The surprise result was St. John’s (10-7, 23-17, RPI 65) getting swept at USF (11-7, 22-22, RPI 67), knocking the Red Storm off the at-large board. Someone besides the Huskies will need to win the Big East tourney for the league to get a second bid at this point. UConn hosts USF this weekend in a key conference series.


Big South (1)Coastal Carolina (14-4, 30-15, RPI 44) swept VMI (9-12, 21-22, RPI 73) to push its lead to two games over second-place Liberty (12-6, 26-19, RPI 92). The Chants look to continue their roll, hosting Radford (10-8, 25-18) this weekend, while the Flames entertain UNC Asheville (7-11, 15-25).

Big Ten (1) – Purdue (10-5, 30-13) goes to Michigan State (10-5, 27-14, RPI 83) this weekend in a battle for first. Ohio State (9-6, 20-19) swept Michigan (6-9, 15-28) to sit a game behind the leaders.
Minnesota (8-7, 16-18) took two of three from Iowa (5-10, 16-26) to find itself in fourth, two back of first. As we said a week ago, the Gophers got hot at the end last year and we think history will repeat. Minnesota goes to Michigan, while the Buckeyes travel to Illinois (8-7, 18-23).

Big 12 (7) – Three teams are hoping to host a regional:
Texas (15-6, 34-11, RPI 14), Oklahoma (10-9, 32-13, RPI 17) and Texas A&M (15-6, 30-15, RPI 18). Oklahoma State (12-8, 30-13, RPI 26), Kansas State (8-12, 27-18, RPI 28), Baylor (9-12, 24-21, RPI 38) and Texas Tech (9-12, 28-20, RPI 45) are in good shape for now. The Sooners entertain Kansas (9-12, 22-24) in an important series for OU.

Big West (2) – First-place
Cal State Fullerton (11-4, 30-13, RPI 21) won its series with Pacific (6-9, 14-25) to stay in the top spot. UC Irvine (8-4, 29-12, RPI 54) held onto second to return to the at-large pool. The Titans go to UC Riverside (6-6, 23-15), while the Anteaters host third-place Cal Poly (9-6, 20-19, RPI 77).


Colonial (1) – The top stays crowded as four teams are within a half-game of first. James Madison (15-9, 30-15, RPI 64) swept former leader UNC Wilmington (12-9, 24-21, RPI 98) to move into a first-place tie with Delaware (15-9, 26-19, RPI 79). Georgia State (13-8, 33-13, RPI 95) swept Hofstra (9-15, 11-27) to catch Old Dominion (13-8, 21-20) for third. The Dukes impressed us this past weekend and JMU is our CAA pick for now. ODU goes to Delaware this weekend, while GSU visits UNCW.

USA (4)Southern Miss (11-4, 33-11, RPI 15) got an impressive series win at East Carolina (9-9, 28-16, RPI 25) last weekend to hold its spot in first. Second-place Rice (9-6, 29-16, RPI 19) remains a solid pick for an at-large spot. We’re putting UCF (7-11, 28-17, RPI 29) in for now, but the eighth-place Knights need to move up the league standings to help their cause. Southern Miss hosts UAB (9-9, 25-19, RPI 53) this weekend, while Rice goes to Houston (9-6, 22-23, RPI 51) and ECU travels to Marshall (4-11, 17-24).


Great West (0) – Utah Valley (11-1, 19-20) swept NYIT (6-7, 10-24) to stay one game up on Northern Colorado (12-4, 16-27) after the Bears went 4-0 against NJIT. No automatic bid or at-large bid this season.


Horizon (1) – Valparaiso (12-4, 20-24) and Wright State (11-4, 28-13, RPI 121) both went 3-1 this past weekend to stay within a half-game of each other. They meet in a key doubleheader on Saturday in a battle for first. We still pick the Raiders to represent the Horizon, but give Tracy Woodson and Valpo a ton of credit for rebounding from a horrid start.


Independents (0) – Cal State Bakersfield (26-16, RPI 58) has lost eight of its past 10 to hurt its chances for an at-large spot. The Roadrunners still have games remaining that could help their RPI, but they’ll need to win the majority of them. Dallas Baptist (31-13, RPI 63) can help its RPI this week with a three-game set at Texas A&M (30-15, RPI 18).


Ivy (1) – The first official bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament will be awarded this weekend as Princeton (15-5, 21-21) hosts Dartmouth (14-6, 29-10) in the best-of-three Ivy League Championship Series. The Big Green swept a doubleheader from the Tigers earlier this season. Dartmouth has won the past two titles and we think it will be a three-peat.


Metro Atlantic (1)Manhattan (14-0, 24-15) maintains a comfortable lead over Rider (12-6, 25-15). We think the Jaspers will keep the opposition at a distance and roll into the NCAA tourney. Manhattan goes to Niagara (3-15, 6-35) this weekend, while the Broncs entertain Saint Peter’s (4-10, 15-26).


Mid-American (1)Kent State (15-3, 30-12, RPI 41) and Miami (Ohio) (13-5, 26-18) both had sweeps to keep the top spots in the East. The two will battle at Kent State this weekend. Central Michigan (12-6, 24-20) swept former West leader Northern Illinois (10-8, 22-21) to create a three-way tie at the top with Eastern Michigan (12-6, 30-15) and Toledo (12-6, 23-20). EMU hosts UNI this weekend, while Toledo visits CMU.

Mid-Eastern (1)Bethune-Cookman (15-0, 29-20,
RPI 130) clinched another MEAC regular-season title with its sweep at Maryland-Eastern Shore (7-11, 8-35). The Wildcats will look for their second straight undefeated conference mark by hosting second-place Delaware State (11-4, 23-21).


Missouri Valley (1) – First-place Creighton (9-3, 31-10, RPI 42) used a sweep of Bradley (2-10, 20-22) to build a two-game lead. The Bluejays visit Wichita State (7-5, 28-21) in a key MVC series this weekend, while Illinois State (7-5, 27-13) hosts Missouri State (6-5, 25-17) and Southern Illinois (7-5, 17-27) goes to Bradley.


Mountain West (1)TCU (15-2, 31-13, RPI 27) won twice at BYU (7-9, 21-21), but lost a game of its lead over second-place Utah (13-4, 23-15) as the Utes won four at Air Force (2-12, 17-28). The Horned Frogs step out of conference to play at Oklahoma State, while Utah entertains San Diego State (6-9, 15-30). TCU and Utah will meet next week in Fort Worth to determine the regular-season champ.


Northeast (1) – Long Island (18-5, 27-15) got a four-game sweep of Mount St. Mary’s (6-22, 12-30) to slip past Monmouth (18-6, 27-16) for first place in the NEC. The two will play a four-game set at Monmouth this weekend with the top spot on the line. We think the Hawks will win this series and go on to capture the NEC tourney crown.


Ohio Valley (1) – First-place Austin Peay (10-4, 22-19) swept Morehead State (3-10, 7-33) to build a one-game lead over Southeast Missouri State (10-6, 28-17). Jacksonville State (8-6, 27-16) finds itself in third. The Governors host Tennessee Tech (8-7, 19-22) this weekend and will face the Redhawks next weekend in a huge series. The Gamecocks go to Eastern Illinois (7-8, 14-25). We think SEMO emerges from the OVC.

Pac-10 (6)
Oregon State (12-3, 32-10, RPI 11) stayed in first with its series win at UCLA (11-7, 24-16, RPI 48). Arizona State (13-5, 32-11, RPI 6) took two of three from Stanford (6-9, 22-16, RPI 12) to maintain second place. The Sun Devils have a non-conference series this weekend with Long Beach State, while the Beavers entertain California (11-7, 27-14, RPI 35). Arizona (9-9, 27-16) is in good shape as well for an at-large bid.


Patriot (1)Navy (12-8, 28-20-1) split its four-game series with Lafayette (10-10, 17-26) to win the regular-season crown over Army (11-9, 19-24), which lost three of four at Bucknell (10-10, 24-26). The Midshipmen will host the Mountain Hawks in one semifinal series next weekend, while the Black Knights will welcome the Leopards for the other semifinal series. We think Navy takes advantage of home field and wins the title.

Southeastern (9) – After SEC sweeps this past weekend, the Big Three are in the top four in RPI: Florida (17-4, 35-10,
RPI 1), Vanderbilt (17-4, 38-5, RPI 3) and South Carolina (17-4, 36-8, RPI 4). Other solid teams include Georgia (13-8, 24-21, RPI 13), Auburn (9-12, 23-21, RPI 22), Arkansas (10-11, 30-14, RPI 23), Mississippi State (8-13, 26-18, RPI 30), Alabama (10-11, 28-19, RPI 32) and Ole Miss (9-12, 25-20, RPI 40). We’re leaving LSU (7-14, 29-17, RPI 24) out again this week, but another sweep could put the Tigers back in the field. This week’s schedule has Florida at Arkansas, Vanderbilt at Kentucky (4-17, 20-25), South Carolina at Ole Miss, LSU at Alabama and Georgia at Auburn.


Southern (2)Elon (18-6, 30-18, RPI 37) swept Davidson (8-18, 18-26) to maintain its hold on first. College of Charleston (14-7, 30-15, RPI 59) won three at Wofford (6-15, 19-26) to move into a second-place tie with UNC Greensboro (14-7, 25-17) after its sweep of Georgia Southern (13-8, 26-19, RPI 81). This week, the Phoenix goes to The Citadel (8-13, 20-24) and the Cougars welcome the Spartans.


Southland (2)Texas State (17-7, 28-16, RPI 43) and Stephen F. Austin (17-7, 30-14) both posted series wins to remain in a tie for first. Southeastern Louisiana (14-10, 31-16, RPI 47) took two of three from Sam Houston State (13-11, 30-17, RPI 62) to take sole possession of third. Texas State hosts UTSA (13-11, 22-24) this week, SFA entertains SHSU and SELA entertains Nicholls State (10-14, 21-23).


Southwestern (1)Southern (15-6, 25-16) continues to lead the Western Division and stays our choice to win the SWAC. Alcorn State (19-4, 22-20) has won 10 straight to open a comfortable lead in the Eastern Division. On this week’s slate, Southern hosts Texas Southern (8-13, 21-24), while Alcorn State steps out of conference to play at Arizona.


Summit (1)South Dakota State (13-3, 27-12) won its series with Oakland (5-11, 12-24) to keep a two-game lead over Oral Roberts (11-5, 22-17). The Jackrabbits entertain North Dakota State (10-5, 16-21) this weekend, while the Golden Eagles head to Oakland.


Sun Belt (3)Troy (15-6, 32-13, RPI 46) lost two of three at Florida Atlantic (13-8, 26-17, RPI 49) and saw its first-place lead shrink to two games. FIU (13-8, 29-16, RPI 34) swept South Alabama (9-12, 22-23) and Louisiana-Lafayette (13-8, 26-19, RPI 52) swept UALR (6-15, 16-27) to force a three-way tie for second. This weekend, ULL goes to Troy, FAU visits Western Kentucky (12-9, 27-18, RPI 78) and FIU goes to Middle Tennessee (7-14, 15-29).


West Coast (1)Gonzaga (7-3, 25-13-1, RPI 61) swept Santa Clara (2-10, 15-26) to stay within a game of first-place San Francisco (10-2, 24-20, RPI 96). The Dons will have their hands full this weekend at San Diego (6-6, 15-26), while the Bulldogs step out of conference to play at BYU.


Western Athletic (1)Fresno State (10-5, 30-9, RPI 20) lost the first two games of its series with first-place Hawaii (9-3, 24-19) before claiming the final two contests. The Bulldogs travel to Louisiana Tech (7-9, 25-22) while the Islanders visit Nevada (5-6, 16-23).


Last five in: UC Irvine, Southeastern Louisiana, College of Charleston, Jacksonville, UCF


First five out: LSU, Rhode Island, ETSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Sam Houston State


(photo by Jimmy Jones)