CBB Column: 2010 NCAA Tourney Projections

It has already been pointed out on this site at length, but this weekend reinforced the mediocrity of the teams in California. Only UC Irvine and UCLA have played well enough to host a regional and the bracket reflects that. If teams like Cal State Fullerton and San Diego don’t start to pick up the pieces, the committee will have their hands full with trying to accommodate for travel and avoiding seeding teams from the same conference in a regional together…trust me, it was hard enough this week.

 
Anyway, the majority of the country has or will be entering their conference slate this weekend and as the weather warms up, the baseball should continue to improve as well.
 
Here is are the "7 Things we learned this weekend."
 
1. The Kansas Jayhawks made the biggest statement this weekend by going into Baton Rouge and outslugging a talented LSU squad without star third baseman Tony Thompson. The Jayhawks relied on the top of their order to do most of the damage, and outfielders Casey Lytle and Brian Heere each had four RBI on the weekend and second baseman Robbie Price had three. The series might have gone differently if the Tigers had staff ace Anthony Ranaudo at their disposal, but for an undermanned Jayhawks team to take two on the road from the defending National Champs is still quite an accomplishment.
 
2. I have used this space to talk briefly about Texas’ ace Taylor Jungmann, but after Friday’s performance against Iowa he deserves a little more publicity. Already off to a dazzling start to the season, Jungmann rudely welcomed the Hawkeyes to Austin by striking out 17 batters and walking just one in 7.1 innings as the Longhorns held on for a 2-1 victory in 10 innings. On the season, the 6-foot-6 sophomore is 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA and 43 strikeouts in just 29 innings. There are a lot of pitchers who deserve to be in the conversation for "best in the country" — UCLA’s Gerrit Cole is the first name that comes to mind — but what Jungmann has done, against good competition, is nothing short of jaw dropping.
 
3. Entering the season all the talk in Conference USA was about who would eventually win the conference, Rice or East Carolina, and whether or not Tulane could get the ship righted after a mediocre 2009 season. Lost amidst all of it was Houston who, after starting the season just 2-5, have rattled off six wins in their last seven games, including convincing victories over Missouri, Texas, and Texas Tech in the Houston College Classic and a three-game sweep of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Led by star infielder Blake Kelso and JuCo transfer Joel Ansley, the Cougars offense has been better than expected. On the mound the team has been inconsistent, but with ace Michael Goodnight and a solid bullpen led by closer Matt Creel, Houston could be a contender in C-USA.
 
4. There has been some grumblings from Coastal Carolina fans that the Chanticleers should be a national seed, and on the surface, their 15-3 record and two-game sweep of UC Irvine seems to warrant attention. But I am not going to give the Chanticleers their due until they prove they can win away from home. They have played just two true road games, a win at Wake Forest and a loss Tuesday at College of Charleston, but even then the team hasn’t ventured outside of the Carolinas. There is no doubt the team is talented enough to make it to Omaha, and they have played very well to start the season. But I refuse to put weight into the fact that they have already hosted three tournaments. If they beat Clemson on the road when the two teams meet March 31, then I will believe.
 
5. Don’t look now but after narrowly missing out on a Super Regional berth last season, Western Kentucky is back and out to prove they can do it again. In a sneakily competitive Sun Belt Conference, the Hilltoppers are already 3-0 and have non-conference wins to hang their hat on as well. Perhaps the most impressive game they played took place on Tuesday when they used two grand slams to bomb Vanderbilt 17-2 in Nashville in Game 1 of a home-and-home series. Led by outfielder Kes Carter and catcher Matt Rice — the two players who hit the grand slams against the Commodores — the Hilltoppers have already scored 10 or more runs in eight games. The pitching staff is still a work-in-progress, but if the Regionals started right now, I don’t think anyone would be too happy to play Western Kentucky.
 
6. I admit, I am being more than a bit of a homer with this one, but I still think it’s remarkable what Maryland outfielder Brandon Padula has accomplished in the early parts of the season. The Terps aren’t anywhere close to being a national player, or even a regional player for that matter, but Padula has been one of a few bright spots for new coach Erik Bakich. A transfer from West Virginia who was neither recruited nor on scholarship, Padula transferred to College Park after a quick pitch from former high school teammate and current Terps’ shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez. Now Padula leads the ACC in batting average at .519 and was the primary source of offense in the Terps 10-0 upset of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. He is going to continue to fly under-the-radar as well because he is the quietest and most unassuming kid I have ever interviewed. I know most fans around the country couldn’t care less, but what he has accomplished through 52 at bats is impressive to say the least.
 
7. Arizona State just continues to prove that they will be just fine without former coach Pat Murphy and star pitcher Josh Spence, who has started throwing off the mound according to Baseball America. After a relatively pathetic schedule to start the season, including four games against Towson and three against Northern Illinois, the Sun Devils schedule has gotten tougher, and Tim Esmay’s club hasn’t missed a beat. Diminutive infielder Zack MacPhee has been as good as any player in the country and fellow sophomore Drew Maggi has been a sparkplug at the top of the batting order. But the real key has been the pitching of Jake Borup and Seth Blair. The duo has picked up the slack in the absence of Spence and the bullpen duo of Jordan Swagerty and Mitchell Lambson has been integral as well.

 

1. Virginia (1)*

2. South Carolina

3. Ohio State*

4. William and Mary*

1. Louisville*

2. Vanderbilt

3. Western Kentucky *

4. Austin Peay State*

1. Arizona State (2)*

2. Kansas
3. New Mexico

4. Akron*

1. Clemson

2. Kentucky

3. Liberty

4. Manhattan*

1. Texas (3)*

2. Rice

3. Wichita State*

4. Texas Southern*

1. Coastal Carolina*

2. East Carolina*

3. UConn

4. Navy* 

1. Georgia Tech (4)

2. Mississippi

3. Middle Tennessee State

4. The Citadel*

1. UCLA

2. Cal State Fullerton

3. San Diego*

4. Wright State*

1. Florida State (5)

2. Alabama

3. Southern Mississippi

4. Dartmouth*

1. Miami

2. Southeastern Louisiana *

3. Charlotte*

4. Bethune-Cookman*

1. Florida (6)*

2. Florida Gulf Coast*

3. NC State

4. Maine*

1. UC Irvine*

2. Stanford

3. Houston

4. San Francisco

1. TCU (7) *

2. Oklahoma 

3. Oregon

4. Dallas Baptist

1. Oregon State

2. Fresno State*

3. Cal State Northridge

4. South Dakota State*

1. LSU (8)

2. Texas A&M

3. Duke

4. Mount St. Mary’s*

1. Arkansas

2. Kansas State

3. VMI

4. Jacksonville

 

 

Last five in: San Francisco, Jacksonville, VMI, UConn, Dallas Baptist

First ten out: Winthrop, St. John’s, Lamar, Tulane, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, , California, UC Riverside, UNLV, Arizona

  • WCU

    What about College of Charleston?? they have a RPI in the 20s a 14-5 record and just beat Coastal and Jacksonville this week. Where are they if they not in the field or even one of first ten teams out???

  • LC

    It doesn’t make sense, that you project the ACC to host 5 regionals and SEC teams to only host 3 (two of which you match up against each other), when you project that the SEC has 5 2nd seeds and ACC has only 2 more teams included which are both 3 seeds. You would think SEC would get more hosting 1 seeds based on strength of schedules alone.

  • Taiter

    You don’t even think UNC makes the tournament? That’s gutsy. I know they lost 2 out of 3 to Duke, but I still don’t think Duke is a regional squad over UNC. If anything, neither of them make it in.

  • PalmettoBBFan

    The problem with C of C is the weekend losses to some weak teams, 2 losses to Samford and then 1 loss and 2 squeaker wins against UNC Asheville. Yes they beat Coastal, but in a midweek game. Lots of questions at the C of C regarding defense and pitching. Gotta prove they can win some weekend series against some good teams before anyone will take them seriously.

    RPI’s at this point of the season mean zilch. Not enough games for a valid sample.

  • Ryan Rosenblatt

    Washington St. not only missing from the field, but missing from the next ten too?

    Also, why would Clemson go cross-country to play Arizona St. (assuming #1 seeds win of course) when UC Irvine is right there?

  • Ryan Rosenblatt

    Oh, and San Francisco in with all those really good teams left out? I love Coach G, but come on. They’re 10-8 with only one weekend series win against a schedule that’s not exactly murderers row. Let’s get serious now.

  • AUTiger789

    Where is Auburn? They have an RPI of #16 and are currently 3rd in the SEC. Also, the number 1 thing you learnd this weekend didn’t even happen. Kentucky played LSU, not Kansas.

    Is this a joke?

    • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

      You recognize that those brackets are done back in March right?

  • Clay Dawg

    This is Stupid. It didnt even include all the automatic bid conferences

    • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

      Who did we miss? and again this is from MARCH

  • Clay Dawg

    Southland! Ya i realized that after i posted. But it the 1st thing that came up when I searched projections!

    • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

      Last I knew, SE Louisiana plays in the Southland Conference.