May 13, 2011
Maydness continues to approach
Phil Stanton and Sean Ryan
Only a couple weeks
left to go, and another Maydness (May Madness) will be in the
Princeton is in. Who
else is going to join the Ivy League champs? The field now is
shaky at the bottom, with several teams slipping in with lower
RPIs than in the past.
Here’s our weekly look
at the potential field. RPI info is courtesy of Boyd Nation at
www.boydsworld.com. Happy teams in bold.
Here’s our look the
Field of 64 (happy teams in bold).
America East (1)
–Stony Brook (15-2, 34-10,
is beginning to pull
away, although Binghamton (12-4, 20-20) and Maine (12-5, 23-21)
are hanging around. We continue to like the Seawolves to take
home the title.
– The big news here this week was NC State (11-13, 28-21,
dropping two of three to ETSU out of the A-Sun, but the Wolfpack
didn’t drop too much in RPI. But this weekend’s series with FSU
now is even bigger than it was. Virginia (20-4, 43-5,
Georgia Tech (18-6, 35-14,
Florida State (16-8, 37-12,
Miami (16-7, 31-16,
RPI 22), North Carolina
(16-8, 39-10, RPI 3)
and Clemson (13-11, 34-15,
are good to go, some of whom will be national seeds.
Atlantic Sun (3) – ETSU (12-10, 31-17,
may have put itself on the right side of the bubble by taking
two of three last weekend at NC State, but it won’t matter much
if the Bucs don’t take care of business in conference, starting
this weekend with Campbell. Stetson (20-4, 37-12,
is in solid shape, and
Jacksonville (18-9, 30-18, RPI 45)
moved up five spots in
RPI this week. The big question will be if the field is big
enough for three from the A-Sun – this week it is. Mercer
(12-10, 30-17, RPI 70), the preseason favorite, isn’t completely
out of the picture but will need a huge finish against USC
Upstate this weekend and ETSU next weekend.
Atlantic 10 (1)
– We have a tie atop the standings, with Rhode Island (15-6,
29-17, RPI 58) catching
Charlotte (15-6, 36-11, RPI 99).
We’ll stick with the 49ers this week by virtue of their home
series win over the Rams, but Rhode Island is playing some great
baseball. A six-pack of teams are fighting for the right to
challenge URI and Charlotte.
Big East (1)
– First-place Connecticut
(18-3, 34-13-1, RPI 48)
moved up nine spots in the RPI and is running away after a tough
sweep of USF. St. John’s (13-7, 27-17, RPI 63) can play its way
back into the at-large picture after sweeping Pittsburgh last
weekend. The conference tourney, though, should be a lot of fun.
Big South (1)
– Coastal Carolina
(17-4, 33-15, RPI 40)
picked up another sweep (8-game winning streak), this time of
Radford, and has played its way back into the clear favorite
after a bit of a slow league start. Liberty (15-6, 29-19, RPI
85) is putting together yet another solid year and is in second.
After barely missing the NCAA tourney last year, the Flames
again need a strong finish – they lost two one-run games at
Coastal earlier in the year.
Big Ten (1) –
Minnesota (11-7, 19-18)
is still our pick, but this is like picking teams from a hat.
Michigan State (13-5, 31-15, RPI 67) has a home sweep of the
Golden Gophers but hasn’t played as well on the road – the
Spartans are at Indiana this weekend. Purdue, Ohio State and
Illinois are tied for third in the standings with 10-8 league
Big 12 (7)
– We’ll stick with seven for now, but Baylor (9-12, 24-22,
needs to watch the .500 barrier and
has a tough series at
Oklahoma State (12-8, 32-16, RPI 29)
this weekend. Texas
Tech (9-12, 30-20, RPI 42)
also is in for now but doesn’t have
much margin for error and travels to Missouri (8-12, 21-27) for
a tough road series this weekend. And
Kansas State (9-14, 28-20, RPI 39)
is on the bubble after dropping two of three to Missouri – the
Wildcats host New Orleans this weekend before closing with
Kansas. Texas A&M (15-6,
33-16, RPI 14),
Texas (17-7, 36-12, RPI 13)
and Oklahoma (13-9, 35-13,
are still battling to host a Regional.
Big West (2) –
Cal State Fullerton (14-4, 33-14, RPI
21) continues to play well
in the league and is the team to beat. UC Irvine (10-5,
31-13, RPI 59)
saw its RPI fall five spots after winning two of three from Cal
Poly. The Anteaters need to keep winning in the league and hope
the RPI improves, but we’ll keep them in for another week.
– It’s still tight at the top, with Old Dominion (16-8, 24-21)
in the catbird’s seat after a sweep of Delaware. Six other
squads are fighting to make the conference tourney. James
Madison (15-9, 31-17) is in second and we’re going to stick
with the hard-hitting Dukes. UNC Wilmington (15-9, 27-22) sits
in third, and Towson (14-10, 25-23-1) had a nice week to move
into fourth. Georgia State, Delaware and William & Mary are
hanging around. Expect more chaos, with UNCW traveling to ODU in
the marquee series, and Towson visiting JMU this weekend.
Conference USA (4)
– Southern Miss (14-6, 36-11,
is working on hosting a Regional and is two games up on Rice
(12-6, 33-16, RPI 12),
also challenging to host. UCF (7-11, 30-19,
has the RPI, but needs to improve in the league, where it is
eighth. We keep it in for another week. The Knights are at UAB
this weekend. East Carolina
(11-10, 31-17, RPI 30)
is in pretty good
shape for now.
Great West (0)
– Utah Valley (16-1, 24-20) continues to roll in-league, leading
Northern Colorado (16-4, 20-27) by three in the loss column. No
automatic bid or at-large this year.
– Wright State (13-5,
took two of three from Valparaiso (13-6, 21-26) to inch ahead
into first. And UIC (13-7, 24-23) is hanging around and will be
in the mix till the end. We’ll stick with the Raiders, but it
won’t be easy.
– Cal State Bakersfield (26-19, RPI 83) has fallen out of
contention after losing 11 of 13. Meanwhile, Dallas Baptist
(34-15, RPI 57) is moving up – the Patriots played Texas A&M
tight in the first game, won the second and got routed in the
third. But DBU likely will see its RPI fall a bit with four
games against Alcorn State.
– Princeton (23-22)
first team to qualify for the NCAA field by beating Dartmouth in
the Ivy tourney, despite out pick of Dartmouth.
Metro Atlantic (1)
– Go figure, Manhattan
lost its first league game of the year to last-place Niagara,
but is still our choice to represent the MAAC. Second-place
Rider (15-6, 29-15) is having another steady season. The leaders
meet this weekend at Manhattan. Siena and Marist will challenge
both for the bid.
– Kent State (18-4, 35-13,
took two of three from Miami (Ohio) to take
control of the East. The West is more crowded as Central
Michigan (14-8, 26-23) and Eastern Michigan (14-8, 31-17) are at
the top, and Toledo (13-9, 24-24) and Northern Illinois (12-9,
23-22) are close behind. We like Kent State to earn the bid –
the rest of the country hopes so, because the Flashes could
steal an at-large if it falters.
– Bethune-Cookman (18-0, 32-20) capped a second straight
unbeaten regular season in the conference. The Wildcats are the
heavy favorite to return to the NCAA tourney yet again.
Missouri Valley (1)
– First-place Creighton (10-5, 33-12,
dropped two of three at Wichita State (9-6, 30-23, RPI 93) but
still holds a one-game lead at the top of the standings. The
Bluejays face Evansville this weekend and remain our choice.
Like in the Mid-American, the rest of the country should be
watching this tourney, because Creighton is moving into at-large
territory if it doesn’t win the league.
Mountain West (1)
– TCU (15-2, 34-13,
picked up three huge wins at Oklahoma State, and just like that,
the Horned Frogs are in the mix to host a regional. TCU hosts
second-place Utah (15-5, 25-16, RPI 103) this weekend to
determine the regular-season champ.
– We have been high on Monmouth (24-7, 33-17) the past
few weeks, and the Hawks backed up our beliefs by sweeping
first-place Long Island (19-9, 28-19). Sacred Heart (22-9,
30-21) now sits in second and will continue to challenge, but
we’re sticking with the Hawks.
Ohio Valley (1)
– First-place Austin Peay (13-4, 25-20) picked up another sweep,
this time of Tennessee Tech. We’ve been picking
Southeast Missouri State (10-6,
which had the week off for exams. The Governors host SEMO this
weekend with a chance to put a stranglehold on first place.
– We’ll still take a six-pack – of Pac-10 teams, that is. Worth
watching, however, is UCLA (14-7, 27-18,
We’ve had the Bruins in our field from the beginning, but with
the RPI in bubble territory, it could be interesting to see
where UCLA is seeded.
Oregon State (14-4, 35-11, RPI 11)
is trying to push for a national seed, along with
Arizona State (12-5, 35-11, RPI 4).
Stanford (9-9, 27-16,
picked up three conference wins last week, and
California (12-9, 28-16, RPI 35)
and Arizona (9-9, 30-16,
are in good shape.
– Navy (12-8, 29-20-1) and Bucknell (10-10, 18-28) will
square off in one semifinal this weekend, and Army (11-9, 19-24)
will meet Lafayette (10-10, 18-28) in another. We think it comes
down to Army and Navy, and we’ll give a slight edge to Navy –
the teams split their four-game series in West Point, with four
Southeastern (9) – It’s easier at this point in the year
to just list the SEC, which will get eight bids for certain,
probably nine, and who knows, maybe 10. Good to go this week
36-12, RPI 2),
Vanderbilt (19-5, 41-6,
South Carolina (18-6, 39-10,
RPI 7), Georgia (14-11,
25-25, RPI 20), Auburn
(11-13, 26-23, RPI 29),
Arkansas (12-12, 32-15,
Mississippi State (12-13, 31-18,
Alabama (12-12, 30-20,
and Ole Miss (11-14, 27-22,
Georgia, though, needs to watch falling below .500, as does
Auburn. LSU (8-16, 30-19, RPI 27) is out again this week, still
needing to make some waves in the league standings as the RPI is
plenty good enough.
– Elon (21-6, 34-18,
picked up another conference sweep and is hanging on in first.
But College of Charleston
(15-9, 32-17, RPI 64)
dropped two of three to second-place UNC Greensboro (16-8,
28-18, RPI 88) and barely stays in our field for this week. The
Cougars need to rebound against Appalachian State this weekend.
The Phoenix appears safe for now for an at-large bid if it
doesn’t take the automatic bid.
– Texas State (20-7, 31-17,
RPI 43) continues to build
its resume and is nearing at-large safety.
Southeastern Louisiana (15-12, 32-18,
stumbled by losing two of three vs. Nicholls State. Sam Houston
State (16-12, 32-18, RPI 50) moved ahead of SELA (which won its
series against SHSU) in the standings, and Stephen F. Austin
(17-10, 30-18, RPI 110) is in second. Should be a good tourney!
– Southern (16-8, 26-20) is still our pick, although
Alcorn State (19-4, 22-24) continues to roll in the Eastern
Division. ASU picked up some experience going to Arizona and
will face Dallas Baptist this weekend.
– South Dakota State (16-4,
is still playing well and looks to halt Oral Roberts (14-6,
26-18) in the Summit. We’ll find out if the Jackrabbits are up
for the challenge as they travel to ORU this weekend, where the
Golden Eagles don’t expect to hand over the crown just yet.
Sun Belt (3)
– It’s still a bit of a mess as the Sun Belt features a bevy of
bubble teams. Troy (17-7,
35-14, RPI 44) is in
first, and FIU (16-8, 33-16,
is now in second after a sweep of Middle Tennessee.
Florida Atlantic (14-10, 28-19, RPI
Louisiana-Lafayette (14-10, 27-22, RPI 56) and Western Kentucky
(14-10, 29-19, RPI 73) are nipping at their heels. We’ll stick
with three, but this is shaky at best. And Louisiana-Lafayette
is getting closer.
West Coast (1)
– Gonzaga (10-3, 27-14-1,
keeps playing well and remains our pick out of the West Coast
Conference. San Francisco (12-4, 26-22, RPI 118), though, is
going to make things tough, and at this point, it’s a one-bid
– Hawaii (13-4, 28-20, RPI 86) is in first place but will need
to win the league tourney.
Fresno State (13-7, 33-11, RPI 24)
has stumbled a bit but is still in good shape with a strong RPI.
The Bulldogs are good to go this week.
Last five in:
College of Charleston, UC Irvine, Southeastern Louisiana, ETSU,
First five out:
Sam Houston State, LSU, Rhode Island, Louisiana-Lafayette, St.