Just in case you’ve been busy the last few months and haven’t been able to catch as much College Baseball as you’d like to, well, you’re in luck. I’ve broken down every remaining Conference Tournament heading into Saturday’s action, with potential bracket buster teams and predictions on who will represent their conference. Well, I’m predicting most of them. All in all, it’s just a rundown on what’s gone on so far rather than post each conference tourney updates individually, and a guide on what you sould be watching for if you have nothing to do but flip around DirecTV on a Saturday. Cause I know that’s what I’ll be doing. We start off with the multi-bid conferences that have tournament action this weekend (ACC, Big East, Big XII, SEC) after the jump.
Miami would advance to the championship game if they beat Virginia tomorrow. If Virginia wins, Florida State would advance with their 2-1 record and having beaten Virginia earlier in the ACC Tournament (2 team ties are based on head-to-head matchup in postseason play). Virginia is already eliminated from title game contention.
Boston College’s season is most likely over after being eliminated from the ACC Tournament by Florida State 12-2 as the #8 seed. They have a high enough SOS and RPI numbers to be in consideration, but went 9-22 against RPI Top 50 teams this season and gave up more runs than they scored. At 30-28, it looks as if Boston College will be on the outside looking in with some of the potential bracket busters out there.
The game of the night in the ACC Tournament had to be Virginia Tech and Clemson, where Virginia Tech was able to hold off a Clemson comeback after going up 5-0 in the first inning, and ended up winning the game 9-8. The TIgers are 0-2 in the ACC Tournament, with Kyle Parker going an uncharacteristic 1-9 with 0 RBI while his team has scored 8 runs in each game.
With Clemson out, Virginia Tech advances to the ACC Final with a win tonight against NC State. NC State would have to win twice today against Georgia Tech and Va Tech to advance, while Georgia Tech could advance with wins against NC State and Clemson plus an NC State win over Virginia Tech, advancing due to higher conference record. Multiple scenarios could play out today in Greensboro.
NCAA Tourney Teams (7): Virginia, Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, NC State, Clemson
Ole Miss’ OF Taylor Hashman dashed the hopes of Auburn winning the SEC Tournament in their first postseason appearance since 2003 with a 3-run 10th inning homerun that the Tigers were unable to recover from. Auburn was without star Trent Mummey as he came up lame running down a ball in center in Thursday’s win against South Carolina. With the 10-7 extra inning victory, Ole Miss extended their outside hopes of hosting a regional in Oxford if they can beat LSU twice on Saturday and win on Sunday. The #8 Seed LSU Tigers are playing with the zeal they had in the first 37 games of the season when they went 32-5, and don’t have intentions of stopping. If the Tigers advance to the SEC Championship game, they should be a lock for the field of 64. If they drop 2 tomorrow against Ole Miss, some may still question their resume. They look to be in at this point though.
Florida will face Alabama on Saturday after dispatching of Vanderbilt Friday night, 5-2. Vanderbilt had a chance to capitalize in this tournament and possibly secure a hosting spot in Nashville, but will now be away from home next week. Florida is coming out of the losers bracket, and has to win 2 in a row to advance to the title game. If Alabama wins the tournament coming in as the #7 seed, they could find their way into a #2 regional seed but would probably be traveling, much like Virginia last season when they won the ACC Tournament as a #6 seed and had to travel to Irvine.
NCAA Tourney Teams (8): Every team that made the SEC Tournament
Even with a full slate of action on Saturday, #6 Baylor and #4 Texas A&M have already established themselves in the title game due to tiebreaker procedures, as they’re both 2-0, and have beaten both teams in their pool that are 1-1. It wasn’t looking like Baylor would make the postseason with their 12-13 conference record, but with wins against Kansas State and Oklahoma in the Big XII Tournament as well as winning 8 of their last 9, are in the drivers seat for a postseason bid with the RPI of 33 and SOS of 29. They may be beneficiaries of late season implosions by Kansas and Texas Tech, but the Bears deserve the postseason bid. Baylor swept the season series against A&M.
What’s alarming about the Big XII Tournament is the 0-2 record of Texas. They gave up 2 costly errors to start the fifth inning today against Texas Tech, which led to Barrett Barnes’ 2nd homerun of the day and put the game away as the Longhorn offense failed to capitalize on scoring chances in the 2nd and 5th innings, settling for fielders choices from their big bats rather than generating the big innings were accustomed to seeing.
Of all the meaningless games tomorrow on the slate, the most meaningful is the matchup between #2 and #3 seeds Oklahoma and Kansas State, as both will be playing beyond this weekend. Here’s the link for the live video for that game, which starts at 4:00 PM CST.
NCAA Tourney Teams (5): Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Baylor
Pittsburgh continued to shoot themselves in the foot in the postseason, dropping their opening round game to Rutgers, and after a win against Cincinnati, dropped a 9-5 decision to UCONN today. Pittsburgh was very much in control of their own destiny coming into the last month of the season, but kept dropping mid week contests against teams they should have beaten (Penn State, Kent State, and not to mention Duquesne, who finished the season 16-40), as well as getting beat 2 of 3 at home against South Florida. Consider their NCAA Tournament hopes dashed, and its a shame because it would have been fun seeing 3B/P Joe Leonard highlighted in postseason play.
Even thought the #3 seed Panthers look to be going home, #4 seed St. John’s could possibly sneak into the postseason. They’re 2-0 in the Big East Tournament so far with wins against South Florida and Louisville, and need to just win 1 game tomorrow against Louisville to advance to face the winner of the UCONN Rutgers side of the tourney. Also, the #6 seed Rutgers Scarlet Knights are one win away from the title game, and control their own destiny getting into the Field of 64. They face UCONN at 10 AM Eastern tomorrow morning. Barring 2 game sweeps tomorrow, we’ll have a bracket buster out of the Big East as UCONN and Louisville are both locks and probable regional hosts.
Prediction: UCONN sweeps Rutgers, St. John’s over Louisville….UCONN over St. John’s
NCAA Tourney Teams (3): UCONN, Louisville, St. John’s
Single Bid Conferences (With the occasional 2-bid depending on upset)
Charlotte survived today winning two elimination games, scoring 4 in the Top of 9 today to win 7-3, and had an offensive explosion against Xavier in the night cap, highlighted by a 9 run 6th inning that included a bases loaded triple by RF Mike Perkins. Charlotte faces St. Louis in the A-10 title game tomorrow and is currently sitting at 39-16, but are 76 in RPI and have a terrible SOS at 214. Charlotte lost to St. Louis in the opening game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, 3-2.
Atlantic Sun Conference
Top Seed Florida Gulf Coast dropped their second and third games of the tournament, meaning they are out. This could lead to a bracket buster situation if Florida Gulf Coast’s resume is deemed by the Selection Committee to be worthy of being around next weekend, as none of the remaining four teams would have a shot of making it. Action starts with Mercer vs. East Tennessee State at Noon EST.
Prediction: No idea, so wide open.
Win Win Win, that’s all Minnesota knows how to do lately. The #1 overall seed earned their way into the conference championship series, and will face the winner of Iowa and Michigan. Michigan laid the smack down on Iowa 18-4 on Thursday, and are the favorite for the rematch against Minnesota. Minnesota would only have to win one game against the qualifier out of the losers’ bracket. This is a for sure single bid conference this season. Minnesota is hot winning 10 of their last 12, but Michigan’s offense is potent, as seen in their epic 15-14 win against Northwestern on May 16th after being down 14-0 headed after an inning and a half. Michigan has put up 10 runs in 4 of their last 10 games…but have to get by Iowa on Saturday morning first before this matchup would take place. Iowa swept Purdue to end the season.
Coastal Carolina looks to be a lock to win the Big South Tournament, as they only need one win against the High Point/Liberty winner. At a 50-7 record for the Chanticleers, a tournament win and national seed seems all but a lock, but that’s why they play the game, right? What to watch for tomorrow is if Liberty advances past High Point. Liberty is currently sitting at 41-18, 47 RPI. At this point, they would need a win against High Point (2-1 series record in Big South play) and a win against Coastal. Of course, if either High Point or Liberty sweeps all three games tomorrow (both were ofer against Coastal this season so I don’t see it happening), we’ll have another bracket buster as it will for sure be a 2-team conference in this case, but Liberty does have a very outside shot of playing next weekend if they win their first two games. Coastal Carolina is heavily favored to take the title in the 2:30 PM Eastern game, but if they drop that game, the final game of the tourney could be very high drama.
Prediction: Coastal sweeps
All reports indicate that Brett Favre is coming back no matter what, but don’t tell that to Southern Mississippi. The guy has used his own threat of his 16th retirement to goad the Golden Eagles into a postseason bid, stating if they made it back to the College World Series against this season, that he’d return for another season. Rice took the season series 2 games to 1 a couple weeks back, but the teams combined for 68 runs so this could be a long, high scoring affair. Southern Miss would be on the outside looking in with a loss (RPI 70; SOS 111, 3-6 vs. RPI Top 50), so their postseason hopes hinge on the win. We all know Favre will be back again…just don’t tell Coach Berry and his squad that.
The Owls are back to the Rice of old, outscoring opponents 53-6 so far in the Conference USA Tournament, and are heavily favored coming into the contest. Even though Hague, Seastruck and Rendon get most of the attention for the Owls, the 7-8-9 hitters in their order went 9-13 last night against Houston, with 3 HR and 12 RBI. I’d say this Coach Graham has team is clicking on all cylinders, and if Southern Miss somehow figured out a way to win it’d be an amazing upset.
The best days may be behind the city of Gary, Indiana, but a star was born in the city last night. The Sophomore RHP had one of the best pitching performances of the season in college baseball, striking out 14 Panther batters on a way to a complete game shutout of surrendering only 6 hits in the process. Henn is now 7-0 on the season, and if Wright State can take one of the two games in the championship series, it’ll be great to see him go against one of the top teams in the country in a 1-4 matchup, probably against a national seed.
Valparaiso and UW-Milwaukee go head to head in the losers bracket in the morning, and the winner faces Wright State at 4 PM EST. If necessary, Game 11 would be at Noon EST on Sunday.
Prediction: Wright State sweeps
Rider took the MAAC Championship on Saturday as the #3 seed, defeating #1 seed Canisius twice in the process. Rider traveled to Fullerton in 2008 for Regional play against Fullerton, UCLA and Virginia, and will probably be traveling to either Arizona State, UCLA, Fullerton or Texas next weekend.
#1 Central Michigan vs. #5 Bowling Green
# 2 Kent State vs. #7 Eastern Michigan
Winners of each semi final face off in a single-elimination final.
Central Michigan only dropped one series all season to Northern Illinois, and swept UCF on the road at the start of the season. I would place them as the favorite to win the MAC, and due to their consistent play over the season (35-21, 20-7 in conference. They didn’t play a tough schedule, but were 5-6 against the RPI Top 100, which is respectable enough to think that if they made it to next weekend, they could take a game off a 3 seed. Just something to keep in mind.
Prediction: Central Michigan
Missouri Valley Conference
#2 Wichita State vs. #1 Illinois State, 2:30PM EST
Wichita State may have played themselves into the postseason even if they lose on Saturday. The Shockers have won 16-5 over their last 21 games and winners of their last 7, and now sit at 41-18 and RPI of 50. They’re 13-8 against the RPI Top 100, and have an outside shot of advancing with the loss. That being said, Illinois State definitely needs to win to get in sitting at 30-22 overall. Illinois State took the season series 2-1 at home.
Prediction: Wichita State
Mountain West Conference
#1 Seed TCU swept their way to the title, beating #2 New Mexico 2-0 to earn the automatic seed. New Mexico (38-20, RPI 53) could have used the win. Beating Texas 2 out of 3 helped, but the scoreless showing Saturday against TCU and the fact that they’re 1-7 against Top 50 RPI teams not named Texas is really going to work against them. To their credit, no one knew USC would be as bad as they were, but New Mexico took 2 of 3 at Dedeaux Field in early March. They definitely could have used an early LSU exit in the SEC Tournament as help, and if St. John’s or Rutgers wins the Big East, look for New Mexico to possibly be on the outside looking in.
#1 Sacred Heart already has a spot in the title series against the winner of #3 Wagner and #2 Central Connecticut. Little known fact, both Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut have wins against UCONN this year, so ya never know. Either way, look for the winner of this tournament to possibly by traveling west, unless the committee has them play in the possible Norwich Regional.
Prediction: CCU over Wagner in Game 5, CCU over Sacred Heart in Game 6, Sacred Heart over CCU in Game 7.
#1 Tennessee Tech an #2 Jacksonville State still remain in the winners bracket, with tomorrow’s AM loser facing #3 Murray State, with the winner of that game advancing from the loser’s bracket.
Prediction: #2 Jacksonville State sweeps
“Boy, that escalated quickly…I mean that really got out of hand fast.” – Ron Burgundy
Kind of sums up the brawl that broke out between Elon and The Citadel Thursday night. Fact is, The CItadel has owned Elon this season, and the Phoenix now have to take a game from The Citadel in order to solidify their postseason resume. Losing 5 games to their conference rival this season wouldn’t look so great, and now they have some added fuel to the fire.
#4 Elon (losers bracket) faces #1 The Citadel
#7 Appalachian State (losers bracket) faces #6 Western Carolina
Western Carolina has the upper hand in Bracket 2, but went 0-3 and was outscored 22-11 by likely opponent The Citadel during the season. They’re on official bracket buster watch, and could bust Elon’s hopes for making the postseason without even playing them. Lost in the shuffle, #2 College of Charleston went 1-2, but should still have the resume to make it to next weekend. #3 Georgia Southern, not so much. They’re out.
Prediction: The Citadel over Western Carolina, but not before Elon takes a game and adds to the resume.
#3 SE Louisiana and #2 Northwestern State were both in multiple Regional Projections at the midpoint of the season, but have possibly played themselves out with poor showings in the Southland Tournament. Southeastern Louisiana would have the clear advantage of the two teams based on resume to make the tournament, but neither did themselves any favors this weekend.
#5 UT Arlington vs. #1 Texas State 2PM EST Saturday, Winner plays #7 Lamar at 7PM EST.
Prediction: Texas State sweeps
#2 Oral Roberts vs. #1 South Dakota State (Losers’ Bracket)
Prediction: South Dakota State comes back for sweep
Sun Belt Conference
Who would have thought at the start of the year that the story of the year would come out of the Sun Belt Conference. That’s just what Garrett Wittels has done though, continuing his hit streak Friday, getting hits in his 51st and 52nd straight games. The Sophomore is hitting .417 on a pretty well rounded Florida International squad, and he has the chance to possibly go for 53 and 54 straight games as #4 FIU takes on #1 Florida Atlantic for the second day in a row. The winner will be the higher seed against the #6 Troy and #7 Arkansas State winner. Arkansas State is undefeated, thus Troy would need to win two games to advance.
Prediction: FIU, only if to see Wittels break Robin Ventura’s record of 58 straight games in the Field of 64.
Side Note: UL-Lafayette has been universally picked to make the tournament for a while now, but went 0-2 in the Sun Belt Tourney. If a team other than Florida Atlantic wins this tournament, it will be FAU and tourney winner playing next weekend and Lafayette will more than likely be at home. Stay tuned.
#3 Grambling State vs. #3 Alcorn State
Two teams NO ONE predicted would be at this point, but here they are, each a game away from advancing. No prediction here, but Grambling State won big in football style 24-10 fashion over Alcorn State back in April.
Fresno State has some big bats from the 2008 team that are still around in guys like Jordan Ribera and Steve Detweiler, but with the winner of #1 Fresno State vs. #6 San Jose State having to win twice against #4 Hawaii, I’d have to go with Hawaii. Josh Slaats for Hawaii only pitched 5.2 innings on Wednesday, so I assume he’ll be ready to pitch Saturday or Sunday, and with a guy like Kolten Wong on the roster, I don’t see Hawaii dropping two in a row here.