CBB Column: NCAA Regional Projections (March 11th)

I have to start with an apology for last week. Last week’s bracket has several large omissions, including the inexcusable absence of Arizona State from the initial bracket. I have revamped my efforts and hopefully come up with a set formula to avoid mistakes like last week. Hopefully this week there will be less comments pointing out faults, and more discussing the merits of the teams in the field of 64.

But of course make sure to call me out if the mistakes continue.

Anyway, there is a new top team in my brackets. Virginia only lost once and still had a great weekend overall. But no one had a better weekend than Florida State who ripped through Georgia en route to a three-game sweep. The question will now be with the ‘Noles have a pitching staff that can carry them through their brutal conference schedule. So far the starters have been solid, but the ACC will be a completely different animal.

 

Here is are the "7 Things we learned this weeekend."

 

1. So maybe we didn’t necessarily "learn" this considering everyone expected Florida State’s offense to be awesome, but they certainly proved it this past weekend. None of the Bulldogs’ starters made it through the fifth inning, thanks primarily to shortstop Stephen Cardullo and centerfielder Tyler Holt. The ‘Noles offense is loaded from top-to-bottom and if ace Sean Gilmartin continues to impress, the Seminoles will be punching their ticket to Omaha.

 

2. I think it is now safe to say that coach George Horton and Oregon will be a contender this season. The Ducks are still very young, but underclassmen like Jack Marder, J.J. Altobelli, and Ryan Hambright have fans in Eugene hoping this team could make the Regionals before anyone expected them too. They had some solid wins early in the season, but a four-game sweep of Fresno State means that Oregon will be a tough team to beat all season.

 

3. There has been a lot of talk about the early season struggles of Cal State Fullerton and its offense. And while the Titans have left a lot to be desired at the plate — they are averaging just 4.5 runs per game — their vaunted pitching staff has to share the blame. Noe Ramirez has been solid, but Tyler Pill has a 4.82 ERA and Daniel Renken is 0-2 with a 5.27 ERA, including Friday’s debacle when he made it through just one inning. It’s still early, and the Titans will have plenty more opportunities to turn it around. But if they are actually going to do it, their talented staff may need to carry them.

 

4. San Diego State is just 5-7 on the season, but since they were swept in four games against Oklahoma to start the season, the Aztecs have turned things around. They now can boast victories over rival San Diego and previously unbeaten Kentucky. Wildcat starter Alex Meyer was rocked in their Friday loss, and coach Tony Gwynn seems to have his offense turned around after a sluggish start. At the beginning of the season there were a lot of questions surrounding the Aztecs and whether they were the real deal. We will find out a lot more when they host the SDSU Tournament this weekend.

 

5. Brian and I have been disagreeing on this fact since the beginning of the season, but I am beginning to see his side of things. The Miami Hurricanes are overrated. Jim Morris is still in search of a consistent third starter since Jason Santana has struggled, and the bullpen is going to miss Kyle Bellamy a lot. But the real problem is their offense. In their series loss at home against Florida, the ‘Canes scored just 12 runs and needed a late home run from Nathan Melendres to even steal one game. The team has gotten a boost from Louisville transfer Chris Pelaez and freshman shortstop Stephen Perez. But it is hard to see those guys holding up all season in the middle of the lineup.

 

6. After their brutal start, coach Wayne Graham and the Rice Owls have been steadily climbing back up the rankings. After losing their first four games, the Owls have lost just once, the opener of the Houston College Classic to Texas and its buzz-saw Taylor Jungmann. This weekend’s College Classic was especially impressive considering after the loss to Texas, Rice got back-to-back strong starts from Tony Cingrani and Boogie Anagnostou to beat Texas Tech and TCU respectively. The Owls offense is too good not to start firing on all cylinders soon, but the difference between being a Regional team and an Omaha team could fall to pitching staff and players like Cingrani and Anagnostou.

 

7. Clearly Arizona State and Tim Esmay were offended when I left them out of last week’s bracket accidentally, because this week they demanded I take notice by sweeping their four games in the Coca-Cola Classic over four potential tournament teams. Keep in mind this team is still without their unquestioned ace, Josh Spence, and yet they still pitched very well in all but Friday’s win. If there was any doubt about whether Esmay would be able to overcome the turmoil of former coach Pat Murphy’s departure and the injury to Spence, those doubts have been assuaged with a dominant weekend from the Sun Devils.

 

1. Florida State (1)*

2. Arkansas

3. Belmont*

4. Manhattan*

1. Louisville*

2. Ohio State*

3. Auburn

4. Wright State*

1. LSU (2)*

2. Wichita State*

3. Southeastern Louisiana*

4. Louisiana Tech*

1. Clemson

2. Mississippi

3. UConn

4. Sacred Heart*

1. Texas (3)*

2. Stanford

3. Dallas Baptist

4. Texas Southern*

1. East Carolina*

2. South Carolina

3. VMI

4. Navy

1. Virginia (4)

2. Kentucky

3. Western Kentucky

4. James Madison*

1. UCLA

2. Texas A&M

3. San Diego*

4. Appalachian State*

1. Georgia Tech (5)

2. Alabama

3. Middle Tennessee State

4. Dartmouth*

1. Miami

2. FIU*

3. Florida Gulf Coast

4. Bethune-Cookman*

1. Florida (6)

2. NC State

3. Southern Mississippi

4. Stony Brook*

1. UC Irvine*

2. Oregon

3. San Diego State

4. Kent State *

1. Arizona State (7) *

2. Oklahoma 

3. New Mexico

4. Austin Peay State*

1. Oregon State

2. Kansas

3. UC Riverside

4. South Dakota State*

1. TCU (8) *

2. Rice

3. Washington State

4. Liberty

1. Coastal Carolina*

2. North Carolina

3. Charlotte*

4. Western Carolina*

 

 

Last five in: Liberty, UC Riverside, San Diego State, UConn, VMI

First ten out: Winthrop, St. John’s, Lamar, Tulane, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Duke, Kansas State, UNLV, Arizona

  • mainejeff

    Stony Brook??? Why? Not only was Maine picked to win the league but they are currently #60 in the RPI with a 6-6 record and a victory over UNC. What is Stony Brook’s current record and RPI?

    • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

      2-2 with wins over UNC-Wilmington and Akron while losing to those same teams.

      UNC is HIGHLY overrated and I think might not even get into the NCAA tourney.

  • Horatio

    A Texas-Stanford re-match in Austin. Brutal. Hopefully Stanford can host a regional in California.

  • Colin

    Vanderbilt is off to a great start and has a pitching staff that appears to be capable of taking them pretty far. I assume they were not included by mistake and not some collapse that yall see us experiencing late in the year?

  • dtsdeer77

    Surprised you have Navy coming out of the PL instead of Army! Army is picked to win the PL and Navy is picked 4th, what has changed to put Navy in over Army or was that a mis-print? I think Navy is more competitive than most give them credit and I look for the Army/Navy series in April to identify the clear leader in that league. Interesting pick, but I like it!!

  • http://lawandbaseball.com/ Johnny Gardner

    I like UNC coming to Conway to play Coastal, but I would really like to see Coastal get a national seed.

  • Matthew Carden

    I like the trip to Atlanta for the Tide. That’s a really strong regional. I’ve heard that MTSU is really strong this year. I know they have one draftable arm.

  • DK

    I’d like to hear the reasoning behind only four teams from the Big 12 making the list. I looked for a “big-conference bias,” but you have eight SEC teams in, so it’s hard to figure.

    The Big 12 has had at least five teams in every year since 1998. The last time fewer than six teams made it was 2005, and three Big 12 teams made it to Omaha that year. The conference isn’t as loaded at the top this season, but to suggest that it will only get four teams is going out on a limb, to say the least.

    • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

      DK

      The Big 12 is extremely down this year so that is the reasoning behind only four teams in the tourney.