Now that Easter celebrations have passed and we’ve reached the climactic mid-point of the college baseball season it’s time for our mid-season 2015 college baseball regionals projections. While we’ve gotten to this point rather quickly it’s necessary that we take our first semi-serious look at the NCAA Regionals race. I’ll mention that it is way too early to say anything for certain and some things will seem almost tongue-in-cheek but what we’re looking to provide is an expert fan analysis of the NCAA Regionals race. The only thing that is certain at this juncture is that a lot of games are still yet to be played.
We’re just over halfway through the season. We have enough data to being having a discussion, but not enough to draw conclusions.
So, we’ve brought our three college baseball RPI analysts (Literal Larry, Minimalist Mark, and Realist Ray) together and I’ll share the insights they shared as we discussed the mid-season picks.
“The only way to be fair and honest is to look at everything like a snapshot. Who would be in the NCAA Regionals if the season ended Sunday? I believe that is the question we need to answer.” – Realist Ray, College Baseball RPI Analyst
In fairness to Mark, let’s lay down some guidelines:
- Conference champions are those who are on top of the standings as of Sunday. If ties exist, the next criteria is head-to-head, if the teams are still tied we defer to the highest ranked RPI for the automatic bid.
- One-bid conferences will each have a champion listed at the bottom with the exception of a couple that may have two, and we STRESS they may!
- We will try our best not to project out which means we are looking at right now, not where we expect a squad to wind up. Although we will add some projecting comments along the way.
- Each conference we discuss will have categories: leader (team in first place as of Sunday), solid at-large (teams with good at-large shot at getting in as of Sunday), weak at-large (teams with weak at-large shot at getting in as of Sunday) needing help (teams close enough to make a run and get in as of Sunday), needing LOTS of help (teams that need to make a run and have some other things fall into place to get in as of Sunday), and on the shelf (teams that as of now have no chance at getting in outside of winning their conference tournament as of Sunday).
- We will go in order by conference average RPI.
Southeastern Conference: No. 1 Vanderbilt Is Leader
The No. 1 Vanderbilt Commodores are the leader at the turn in the SEC with a two-game lead in the Eastern Division and a half-game lead overall. The conference is interesting since it placed 10 teams in the NCAA Regionals last season. We don’t, as of today, think it will get 10 teams in. Teams like Alabama and Kentucky have played brutal conference schedules at this point and their overall records show it.
“Well, the Commodores are the defending national champion…and are ranked number one right now without having played their best ball. Oh yeah, they also have the best record in the nation’s best conference.” – Minimalist Mark, College Baseball RPI Analyst
Solid At-Large: Texas A&M, LSU and Florida as solid at-large teams.
“Barring a collapse of epic proportions, these teams will be in the postseason.” – Realist Ray
Weak At-Large: Missouri, South Carolina, Kentucky, Auburn
Needing Help: Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi State
ACC Conference: No. 5 Louisville Is Leader
Conference newcomer and the No. 5 team in the latest College Baseball Central Top 25 Louisville Cardinals have jumped to a three-game lead over the rest of the ACC and have knocked off Virginia and Miami in the process. This conference is feeding on itself at this point and it makes for an intriguing mix of Regional teams.
Solid At-Large: Miami (FL), Florida State
“I see a lot of potential for three Regional Hosts in this league. If the Hurricanes and Seminoles keep rolling you could see them all as National Seeds as well.” – Literal Larry, College Baseball RPI Analyst
Weak At-Large: Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, North Carolina
Needing Help: Wake Forest, Clemson
“Honestly, with everyone sitting at .500 or just below in conference play, this was a difficult call.” – Realist Ray
Needing LOTS Of Help: Duke, Virginia Tech
On The Shelf: Boston College, Pittsburgh
American Athletic Conference: The South Florida Bulls Take Early Lead
Yes, we’re aware that South Florida hasn’t faced the likes of UCF and Houston. However, at this point they are in the leader and hold the top spot by a game. Which throws UCF and Houston at the mercy of the Selection Committee, which today consists of our fan experts. Have mercy!
Solid At-Large: Houston
Weak At-Large: UCF
“Even though UCF is ranked higher than Houston and has the series win over them, the numbers weigh in the Cougars’ favor with a No. 28 RPI versus UCF’s 45 and a 35th ranked strength of schedule while the Knights have played the 75th ranked and an overall record that is only a half-game behind.” – Literal Larry
Needing Help: Connecticut, Memphis, Tulane
Needing LOTS Of Help: East Carolina
On The Shelf: Cincinnati
Big 12 Conference: Surging No. 17 Oklahoma State Cowboys Have The Lead
The leader in the conference is the hottest team in the conference as the Cowboys have a series win over TCU and just don’t seem to lose weekends very often. The conference is down this year with studs like Texas and Oklahoma struggling and may not recover in time for Regionals.
Solid At-Large: TCU
Weak At-Large: Texas
“I don’t think anyone saw Texas getting so close to matching its’ longest losing streak in school history this season. They also didn’t see this conference getting maybe two or three teams in the Regionals either.” – Realist Ray, College Baseball RPI Analyst
Needing Help: Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia
On The Shelf: Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State
Pac 12 Conference: Solid No. 4 UCLA Bruins Holding Down
This conference is shaping up for an amazing stretch run with three solid Top 10 teams with UCLA the leader. However, the rest of the conference is settling into a couple of hodge-podges in which a series or two can make the difference.
“UCLA just has the look of dominance right now and the pitching mojo may be enough to carry them to Omaha.” – Minimalist Mark
Solid At-Large: Arizona State, USC
Weak At-Large: California, Oregon State
Needing Help: Arizona, Oregon
“When I look at where we find Oregon and Stanford today I’m surprised because both of those teams came in with so much potential and just haven’t been able to put things together enough to realize it.” – Realist Ray
Needing LOTS Of Help: Washington, Washington State
On The Shelf: Stanford, Utah
Big 10 Conference: The No. 19 Iowa Hawkeyes Lead Even Field
Iowa has the lead in what promises to be a stacked and battle-ready conference race. Pretty much all of the teams are smudged together at the top of the conference with equal shots at postseason runs.
Solid At-Large: Maryland, Nebraska, Illinois
Weak At-Large: Ohio State
“I just want to go on the record and say that, for Larry’s sake, that yes we took Ohio State because their RPI is 23 at this point even though we just don’t see five teams getting in out of this league.” – Realist Ray
Needing Help: Indiana, Michigan
Needing LOTS Of Help: Michigan State
“Every team in this league is numerically strong with seven squads with an RPI higher than 48.” –Literal Larry, College Baseball RPI Analyst
On The Shelf: Purdue, Penn State, Minnesota, Rutgers, Northwestern
Missouri Valley Conference: The Wichita State Shockers Hold Lead
In spite of their less-than-stellar overall record the Shockers have the lead in the Missouri Valley Conference even though without the lead they would be on the shelf. The race will more than likely come down to Missouri State and Dallas Baptist, but for now, it is what it is.
Solid At-Large: Missouri State, Dallas Baptist
“Both of these squads seem to have what it takes to get through the first weekend. The series they played last weekend was amazing and I can’t wait to see who takes the regular and postseason crown in this leagu.” – Realist Ray
Needing Help: Bradley
Needing LOTS Of Help: Indiana State, Illinois State, Evansville
On The Shelf: Southern Illinois
Conference USA: No. 14 Rice Owls On Top As Expected
The conference race was Rice’s from the get-go and will be in their hands till the end unless someone else makes a run. If the season ended today I believe it would be a multi-bid league.
Solid At-Large: Florida Atlantic
“If you haven’t gotten to watch them, the Owls are pounding the ball on offense and will be a tough team to tangle with in a Regional.” – Minimalist Mark
Needing Help: Middle Tennessee State, Old Dominion, UAB
Needing LOTS Of Help: UTSA, Western Kentucky, Southern Miss
On The Shelf: Louisiana Tech, Florida International, Charlotte, Marshall
Big South Conference: Radford Leads In The Early Going
The Big South is normally a one-bid league and probably will be so this season. However, with Radford leading in the early stages of play they have to be considered for a possible two-bid at this point.
Weak At-Large: Coastal Carolina
“This team has been an ACC and SEC slayer worthy of Regional consideration. We project they will win this conference but will honor the current conference leader at this point.” – Realist Ray
Needing Help: Campbell, Liberty, Winthrop
Needing LOTS Of Help: High Point, Presbyterian
On The Shelf: Gardner-Webb, UNC Asheville, Longwood, Charleston Southern
Big West Conference: UC Irvine Leads In Wide-Open Race
Perennially the Big West puts at least a couple squads in the NCAA Regionals. We don’t see this changing any time soon, especially with the Anteaters in the conference top spot after a College World Series run last season.
Solid At-Large: UC Santa Barbara
“I honestly am excited to see the electric arm of Dillon Tate competing on Regional weekend.” – Minimalist Mark
Weak At-Large: Long Beach State
Needing Help: Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge
“It was close to this time last season that the Titans made their run into the Regionals. I honestly expect them to repeat that this season.” – Realist Ray
Needing LOTS Of Help: UC Davis
On The Shelf: Cal Poly, Hawaii, UC Riverside
Mountain West Conference: The No. 21 Nevada Wolf Pack Taking Charge
We can usually find a couple of Mountain West teams in the Regionals each year and we don’t really expect that to change. However, at this point, the league is one bid with top-ranked Nevada in the lead.
Needing Help: San Diego State, New Mexico
“New Mexico is really young and has been prone to ups and downs that have kept them hovering around .500 but with a really high RPI. San Diego State is going to need to make some noise to clinch a third straight Regionals appearance.” – Literal Larry, College Baseball RPI Analyst
Needing LOTS Of Help: Fresno State
On The Shelf: UNLV, Air Force, San Jose State
Colonial Athletic Conference: College Of Charleston Leads
Normally, this would be a one-bid league, but not this season with solid College of Charleston leading the conference. However, after UNC Wilmington, not much else is in competition.
Weak At-Large: UNC Wilmington
“UNC Wilmington has a solid No. 23 RPI and a 27th ranked strength of schedule with a series win over Maryland.” – Literal Larry
On The Shelf: The Remainder
One Bid Leagues:
America East: Leader – Stony Brook
Atlantic 10: Leader – Richmond
Atlantic Sun: Leader – Stetson
Big East: Leader – Saint John’s
Horizon League: Leader – Illinois-Chicago
Ivy League: Leader – Pennsylvania
Metro Atlantic: Leader – Canisius
Mid-American: Leader – Ball State
Mid-Eastern Athletic: Leader – UMES
Northeast: Leader – Sacred Heart
Ohio Valley: Leader – Southeast Missouri State
Southern: Leader – Mercer
Southland: Leader – Southeastern Louisiana
Southwestern Athletic: Leader – Alabama A&M
Summit League: Leader – Oral Roberts
Sun Belt: Leader – Georgia State
The Patriot League: Leader – Holy Cross
West Coast: Leader – San Diego
Western Athletic: Leader – Seattle