We're just a few days away from the NCAA Division I Selection Committee convening in Indianapolis, Ind., and putting together the field of 64, and of course, ordering the always-important protected top eight national seeds.
Though the postseason picture is always fluid throughout the week of conference tournaments, we'll update how we view the national seed and hosting situations after each day of action.
Here's Friday's report, which includes a roundup of the national seeds, regional hosts and teams trending up or down when it comes to postseason at-large bids.
Oregon State -- STATUS: No change -- The Beavers didn't play Thursday night, but begin a road series against USC tomorrow in Los Angeles. Oregon State has a top 10 RPI and needs one win against the Trojans to clinch the Pac-12 regular season title. OSU is an absolute lock for a national seed.
Florida -- STATUS: No change -- Though he wouldn't say it publicly, coach Kevin O'Sullivan knows that what happens in the SEC tournament doesn't matter. The Gators will be a national seed. Still, his Gators rose to the occasion Thursday afternoon in a 7-2 win to eliminate South Carolina from the conference tournament. UF has an outstanding RPI and resume. It's a lock.
Virginia -- STATUS: No change -- The Cavaliers dropped a road series to Wake Forest to end the regular eason and began the ACC tournament with a 7-6 loss to Maryland with starting pitcher Artie Lewicki allowing four runs in just five innings. However, the Cavaliers entered the day with the nation's best RPI and have a very good overall resume. Again, as was the case yesterday, UVa. is a lock.
Florida State -- STATUS: No change -- The Seminoles won their ACC tournament opener on Wednesday and remain a lock for a national seed. FSU's RPI is up to 2, and this team has a road record of 16-6 with a 7-3 record in their last 10 contests. I feel very confident about FSU as a national seed.
Indiana -- STATUS: No change -- The Hoosiers had yet another solid day on the diamond, as starting pitcher Christian Morris twirled a gem and catcher Kyle Schwarber hit a home run in a 5-0 win over Michigan. The Hoosiers, who have a top-five RPI, improved to 2-0 in the Big Ten tournament. In other words, they're still in excellent shape for a national seed.
Miami (Fla.) -- STATUS: No change -- The top-seeded Hurricanes entered the ACC tournament in good shape to snag a national seed, but things aren't as crystal clear as they were before this week. Miami dropped its first two games in the ACC tournament to Georgia Tech and Clemson, meaning it really needs to take the finale against Duke to avoid potential trouble on Selection Monday.
Louisiana-Lafayette -- STATUS: No change -- The Ragin' Cajuns continued their dominant ways in the Sun Belt tournament, using three hits and two RBIs each from stalwarts Jace Conrad and Caleb Adams to beat Texas State 11-4. Sitting at 2-0 in the tournament with a top-10 RPI, the Cajuns remain in good shape for a national seed.
Mississippi -- STATUS: New addition -- Mike Bianco's Rebels are right back in there as a top-eight national seed after eliminating Vanderbilt from the SEC tournament with a 7-2 victory. Ole Miss got a quality start from lefthanded pitcher Jeremy Massie, while Auston Bousfield and Austin Anderson each had two hits in the contest. The Rebels' RPI is back up to 10 after the victory, putting them in prime position for a national seed. Ole Miss faces Arkansas in tourney action on Friday.
Others to watch: Cal Poly, South Carolina, TCU, Rice
Cal Poly: Regular season is finished. Lock to host.
LSU: We moved the Tigers in as a host in our Thursday morning update, and they didn't disappoint later in the day with a 7-2 win over Arkansas. LSU righthanded pitcher Aaron Nola struck out seven, walked three and allowed just two runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. The Tigers are up to 13 in the RPI with a 14-12 record vs. RPI Top 50 clubs.
Washington: With an RPI of 19, the Huskies, who get UCLA at home this weekend, must take care of business in their final series of the regular season. The Huskies are an impressive 14-5 on the road and 8-2 in their last 10 contests.
Oklahoma State: The Pokes are still in very good shape for an NCAA host site, but ran into a tough set of arms in Texas lefthanded pitcher Dillon Peters and righty Parker French in a 3-0 setback. The Cowboys are still in very good shape to host a postseason NCAA Regional, but need to win another game in Oklahoma City to avoid any uneasy feelings leading up to Selection Monday.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks headed to the SEC tournament hoping to seal the deal on a national seed. Instead, they'll likely have to settle for an NCAA Regional host after going 0-2, including an elimination game, 7-2 loss to Florida. South Carolina lefthanded pitcher Jack Wynkoop struggled in the contest, allowing three runs in just 2 2/3 innings of work.
Rice: Wayne Graham's Owls were already in great shape to host an NCAA Regional, but continue to impress at the Conference USA tournament, where lefthanded pitcher Blake Fox struck out seven, walked two and allowed just a run on three hits in seven innings in an 8-2 win over Middle Tennessee State. Rice is solidly in as a host site at this point, and we don't expect that to change.
Texas Christian: The Frogs entered the Big 12 tournament in terrific shape to host, and as a potential national seed. Their situation hasn't changed. TCU improved to 2-0 in the Big 12 tournament with a 6-2 win over West Virginia with righthanded pitcher Preston Morrison striking out six and allowing just two runs in a complete game performance. TCU, which is now 15-8 vs. RPI Top 50 teams, saw its RPI move up to 11 after the win over the Mountaineers.
Vanderbilt: Despite going 1-2 in the SEC tournament, I still have the Commodores as an NCAA Regional host. There's a caveat to that, though. The more Louisville wins this week, the less confident I'll be about the Commodores hosting. With that said, Vandy's resume is very good with an RPI of 7, along with an astonishing 19 wins vs. RPI Top 50 clubs. The committee also will love the fact the 'Dores went on the road early in the season.
Others to watch: Louisville, Texas, Houston
Dallas Baptist: We had the Patriots in the field of 64 entering the week, and they've only helped themselves by starting out the Missouri Valley tournament with a pair of victories, beating Bradley 6-5 in a winner's bracket contest. DBU entered the day with an RPI of 31, though, only a record of 2-9 vs. RPI Top 50 teams. That's a bad metric for a mid-major trying to get into the NCAA postseason, but a strong run through the MVC should alleviate any concern for Dan Heefner's club. Barring a last-second change, the Patriots are in the postseason.
San Diego State: We had the Aztecs in the field of 64 entering the week, and they improved their standing in the field with an impressive 11-5 win over top-seeded New Mexico at the Mountain West tournament. The Aztecs got a productive performance from leadoff hitter Greg Allen, who went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. The Aztecs are approaching top 40 in the RPI and would be in terrific shape to make the NCAA postseason by reaching the MWC tourney title game.
Clemson: Tigers junior righthanded pitcher Daniel Gossett put together yet another good start, striking out eight, walking two and allowing just two runs on seven hits in 8 1/3 innings, as his club defeated Miami 3-2 in walk-off fashion. The Tigers still have an uneasy RPI of 50, but should be in the NCAA postseason with a pair of wins in the ACC tournament. The Tigers, of course, could leave no doubt by winning the tournament.
Cal State Fullerton: I’m not a full believer of the Titans as a postseason team at this point, but there’s no doubt they helped their case yet again with a series-opening win over Cal State Northridge. The Titans are up to 52 in the RPI, are 30-22 overall and have a 12-10 Big West record. The Titans also are 3-3 vs. RPI Top 25, 10-6 vs. RPI Top 50 and 15-17 vs. RPI Top 100. Not exactly an outstanding resume, but not a bad one, either. Another win over the Matadors this weekend makes it difficult to snub the Titans, who have the No. 12 strength of schedule.
Long Beach State: You can go ahead and put the Dirtbags in the lock column for making the postseason. I said a couple of weeks ago the Dirtbags would get into the NCAA postseason even with being a couple of wins over .500. Well, after beating UC Irvine on Thursday, the Dirtbags are up to 39 in the RPI, are 30-24 overall and 17-16 vs. RPI Top 100 to go with a 15-7 Big West record. That right there is a resume of a team comfortably in the postseason.
Mercer: The Bears tallied some nice wins this season and entered the Atlantic Sun tournament with an RPI in the 30s. However, they might be in a little trouble, as their RPI dropped into the 40s after a poor showing in a 7-1 loss to East Tennessee State. I still think Mercer is in the field of 64, but it needs several teams around the country to take care of business in their respective conference tournaments. Mercer is 3-0 vs. RPI Top 50 and 13-5 vs. RPI Top 100, both obviously very solid marks. The one thing to keep an eye on is Mercer's 4-6 record in its last 10. That's something the committee might not take very lightly come Selection Monday.
Western Carolina: Speaking of teams who likely have lost any chance to make the postseason, meet the Catamounts. Sure, the Catamounts won the Southern Conference regular season crown, but they're in deep trouble and likely out of the mix after going 0-2 in the conference tournament. WCU has an RPI of 51 with poor metrics. For instance, it's 14-10 against teams in the 101-200 RPI range, while they went 9-8 vs. RPI Top 100 against the nation's No. 151 strength of schedule. It would be a surprise at this point if the Catamounts are in the field come Monday, but never say never.
West Virginia: Needing a couple of wins in the Big 12 tournament to feel good about their postseason situation, the Mountaineers stormed back in the tournament opener against Kansas to grab a victory. Well, TCU righthanded pitcher Preston Morrison was having none of that Thursday afternoon, as he struck out six and allowed just two runs in a complete game performance. With the loss, the Mountaineers, which entered the day with an RPI of 29, still have some work to do. I get the feeling WVU is in the field of 64 with one more win in Oklahoma City.
Old Dominion: Monarchs starting pitcher Andy Roberts allowed a run on four hits in five shutout innings in a 3-2 win over Florida International to stay alive in the Conference USA tournament. ODU, which has a relatively high RPI of 38, still has some work to do to comfortably be in the field of 64. Speaking of the Panthers, they were in the mix for an at-large bid a few weeks ago, too. However, they have a minimal shot to get into the postseason as losers of 8 of their last 10 contests.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini dropped a tough bout to begin the Big Ten tournament, but responded in good fashion Thursday afternoon in a 6-5 win over Ohio State with the first five hitters in the Illinois lineup recording a pair of hits. The Fighting Illini still have some work to do with an RPI of 54, but at least kept hope alive and well.
Southern Mississippi: Golden Eagles starting pitcher Conor Fisk struck out four and allowed a run in 5 1/3 innings as his club bounced back in the Conference USA tournament with a 4-3 win over UAB. The Golden Eagles still have plenty of work to do to make the NCAA postseason field with an RPI of 66, but the win keeps hope alive entering Friday's action.