College : : Story
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Conference tournament primer

Kendall Rogers        

Love or hate them, success or failure in conference tournaments can be the difference between spending the first week of June in an NCAA Regional, or sitting at home.

To further give you an idea of what's at stake at each conference tournament, we take an in-depth look at each tourney, giving you a glimpse of where all the potential postseason teams stand entering the week.

Without further ado, our conference tournament primer:

Atlantic 10

Where: Charlotte, N.C.

Regular season champion: Saint Louis, Charlotte, Rhode Island

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: The Atlantic 10 regular season title race was rather intriguing to say the least. Saint Louis, Charlotte and Rhode Island each finished the regular season with 17-7 conference records, making the Atlantic 10 tournament extremely intriguing. As for the postseason picture, there's zero doubt at this point this will be a one-bid league, as those three teams have RPIs of 98, 123 and 113, respectively. The Billikens are the favorite to earn the bid with starting pitcher Alex Alemann leading the charge. He has a 3.18 ERA in 90 2/3 innings, along with 66 strikeouts and 31 walks.

Atlantic Coast

Where: Durham, N.C.

Regular season champion: North Carolina

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: The ACC is looking like a for-sure bet for three national seeds with North Carolina and Virginia leading the charge, along with Florida State, which moved strongly into the top-eight mix with series wins over North Carolina State and Clemson the past couple of weeks. I'd also keep an eye on North Carolina State, which could sneak in as a fourth national seed (though it's unlikely) should the NCAA be OK with shaking things up. From an at-large standpoint, the ACC is looking like a sure bet to get eight postseason bids, though, things could get interesting if either Georgia Tech or Miami go winless in Durham. For now, it's look like North Carolina, Virginia and FSU as national seeds, along with Clemson and N.C. State as NCAA Regional hosts.

America East

Where: Lowell, Mass.

Regular season champion: Maine

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: Stony Brook caught everyone's attention last season when it won the America East tournament and proceeded to reach the College World Series. Now, the Seawolves, who narrowly made the conference tournament by finishing fourth in the league standings, hope to repeat history this week. The America East undoubtedly is a one-bid league, with conference leader Maine, also the tourney favorite, having an RPI of 150 with a 1-6 record vs. RPI Top 50. Keep an eye on Maine ace pitcher Tommy Lawrence, who has a 2.59 ERA in 90 1/3 innings, along with 67 strikeouts and 19 walks.

Atlantic Sun

Where: DeLand, Fla.

Regular season champion: Mercer

Bubble teams: North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast

Postseason picture: The Atlantic Sun has one of the more intriguing conference tournaments this week. Though Mercer is a slam dunk to be in the NCAA postseason, the situations with Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida remain fluid. UNF has the better shot to make the postseason at this point with an RPI of 56 to go with a 4-4 record vs. RPI Top 50, while Florida Gulf Coast has an RPI of 61 with a 3-8 mark vs. RPI Top 100. For now, it's looking like the Atlantic Sun will be a one-bid league, but don't be surprised if FGCU, UNF or perhaps host Stetson shakes things up.

Big Ten 

Where: Minneapolis

Regular season champion: Indiana

Bubble teams: Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan State (not in tournament)

Postseason picture: It will be a make or break situation for a few teams at the Big Ten tournament this week. Indiana having a great week could result in a national seed, though it's a long shot at this point. However, others such as Ohio State and Illinois must rise to the occasion. Ohio State has a solid 34-21 overall record, but also has an RPI of 62, while Illinois moved into the mix this week with a fifth place finish in the Big Ten standings, along with a very solid RPI of 30.

Big 12

Where: Oklahoma City, Okla.

Regular season champion: Kansas State

Bubble teams: Kansas, Baylor

Postseason picture: K-State has had a terrific year and hopes to go for the double whammy with also the Big 12 tournament championship. The Wildcats are in very good shape to earn one of the 16 NCAA Regional host out there, but at least some bubble spots from the Big 12 are very much up in the air. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are in good shape to make the postseason, while Kansas and Baylor both have some serious work to do in the tourney to make the field. KU finished sixth in the regular season standings and has an RPI of 82, while Baylor finished fifth and has an RPI of 64. Both are out of the field at this point, but have a chance to turn the tide.

Big East

Where: Clearwater, Fla.

Regular season champion: Louisville

Bubble teams: Pittsburgh, South Florida

Postseason picture: The Cardinals are in the mix for a national seed, but one of the more intriguing stories this week is the fact Seton Hall is in great shape to earn an at-large bid. The Pirates finished tied with Pittsburgh for second in the Big East standings, and have a fantastic RPI of 38, along with a 1-4 record vs. RPI Top 50 teams. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Pitt and USF throughout the week. The Panthers are right on the fence in terms of the bubble, and things could go either way at this point with an RPI of 65, also with an impressive 40-15 overall record. Meanwhile, the Bulls have an RPI of 63 along with a 2-10 record vs. RPI Top 50 clubs.

Big South

Where: Lynchburg, Va.

Regular season champion: Campbell

Bubble teams: Campbell

Postseason picture: Coastal Carolina typically has a stronghold on the Big South, but things have changed this season with Greg Goff's Campbell Camels rising to the occasion. Campbell has tallied an outstanding 46-9 overall record, 19-5 mark in the Big South, and is a co-favorite with CCU to win the Big South tournament. Strangely enough, Campbell is still on the bubble (good side for now) because of a weak strength of schedule, as evidenced by its 0-1 record vs. RPI Top 50 clubs. Meanwhile, Coastal is safely in the field for now with a 35-19 overall record, RPI of 41 and five wins vs. RPI Top 50. CCU could slip out of the mix with a poor showing this week, though.

Colonial Athletic

Where: Harrisonburg, Va.

Regular season champion: UNC Wilmington

Bubble teams: William & Mary

Postseason picture: It has been a rather good campaign for the CAA, but for now, it looks like just UNC Wilmington and William & Mary are in the mix for postseason at-large bids, with Delaware just outside of the mix with an RPI of 79 to go with a 32-20 overall record. However, the Blue Hens are a prime candidate to steal a bid with a strong showing this week. William & Mary just needs to win a game or two this week to, in my eyes, seal up an at-large bid. The Tribe has an RPI of 37 with a 35-20 overall record and 2-5 mark vs. RPI Top 50 clubs. Also great about the CAA tournament is the fact that Towson, which had its program on the chopping block earlier this season, made the CAA tourney field.

Conference USA

Where: Houston

Regular season champion: Rice

Bubble teams: Houston, East Carolina

Postseason picture: The Conference USA postseason picture has really changed over the past couple of weeks, and that's a good sign that crazy things could happen in Houston this week. Though Rice is a safe bet for a postseason bid, the league is likely to at least get a second bid, right now, with Houston leading the charge. The Cougars captured a series win over USM this past weekend and are now 58 in the RPI with a 35-20 overall record. If not the Cougars, perhaps someone like East Carolina could get back in the mix. The Pirates have played well down the stretch and have an RPI of 74 with a 30-24 overall record entering the week. The Pirates have a ton of work to do with a 2-11 record vs. RPI Top 50.


Where: Niles, Ohio

Regular season champion: Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: The Horizon League's highest RPI belongs to regular season champ Milwaukee, which enters the conference tournament with an RPI of 115. Outside of the Panthers, the highest RPI in the league belongs to Valparaiso, which has an RPI of 189. UWM starting pitchers Jake Long, Cale Tassi and Mike Schneider should take care of business this week, but also keep an eye on Valparaiso, which has played very well at times this season.

Metro Atlantic

Where: Trenton, N.J.

Regular season champion: Rider

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: Like many of the smaller conferences around the country, the MAAC will be a one-bid league come Selection Monday. For now, regular season champion Rider seems to have the inside track. The Broncs have a solid ace pitcher in Kurt Sowa, while the bullpen is outstanding with Chris Taylor, David Hafer and Sean Kuberiet leading the charge. RPI-wise, Rider actually ranks second in the league behind Canisius, which has an RPI of 104 and finished the regular season third in the league standings.


Where: Avon, Ohio

Regular season champion: Kent State

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: Remember when it looked like the Golden Flashes might not win the MAC regular season title? Well, Scott Stricklin's Golden Flashes are right back where they usually are in the postseason picture. Kent is favored to win the conference tournament after winning the regular season title with a 20-7 record. Meanwhile, Buffalo and Ball State are teams to watch this week in the upset department. Buffalo has been solid this spring with a 32-22 overall record, while Ball State is very solid at times with a 27-23 overall record. This should be a one-bid league come next Monday with Kent possessing an RPI of 81.

Missouri Valley

Where: Normal, Ill.

Regular season champion: Illinois State

Bubble teams: Creighton

Postseason picture: Illinois State won the regular season title with an incredibly strong finish, and possesses an overall record of 32-18 with an RPI of 71. In other words, chances are good the Redbirds will need to win the MVC tournament to reach the NCAA postseason, though, they could sneak into the field as an at-large with a few wins this week. Meanwhile, Creighton has the most to prove this week. CU finished third in conference with an RPI of 52. However, the Bluejays are just 1-4 vs. RPI Top 50 and 6-8 vs. RPI Top 100. The MVC surely is a one or best-case, two-bid league for the NCAA postseason.

Mountain West

Where: Fresno, Calif.

Regular season champion: New Mexico

Bubble teams: UNLV

Postseason picture: There's always the potential someone like Fresno State could win the MWC tournament, especially considering it's being played at home. However, for now, the only team on the bubble out of the MWC is UNLV. Tim Chambers' Rebels were on a roll earlier this season, and now seem to be getting their groove back. The Rebels have a lot of work to do to earn an at-large bid, sitting with an RPI of 76, 1-7 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 8-9 vs. RPI Top 100. I'd also keep an eye on San Diego State, which has the pitching to go the distance in this tournament.


Where: Lakewood, N.J.

Regular season champion: Bryant

Bubble teams: Bryant

Postseason picture: If you're looking for a potential Stony Brook to watch in the postseason, keep an eye on the Bryant Bulldogs, who are postseason-eligible for the first time as a Division I program. Bryant has an RPI of 49 with an 0-4 mark vs. RPI Top 50. Bryant likely must win the conference tournament to get into the NCAA postseason field, while Monmouth (30-22) has the second-best RPI at 142.

Ohio Valley

Where: Jackson, Tenn.

Regular season champion: Tennessee Tech

Bubble teams: Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay

Postseason picture: The Ohio Valley had one of the more intriguing conference races with Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay and Belmont leading the charge. Tennessee Tech probably needs to win the conference tournament with an RPI of 85, while Austin Peay likely is in the field no matter what with an RPI of 29 and 2-3 record vs. RPI Top 50. Also keep an eye on Belmont throughout the week. The Bruins are 37-18 overall with an RPI of 70 and 2-5 mark vs. RPI Top 50. Should Austin Peay win the conference tourney, this will be a one-bid league. If someone else wins it, look for a two-bid league.


Where: Hoover, Ala.

Regular season champion: Vanderbilt

Bubble teams: Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida

Postseason picture: The SEC has one of the more intriguing tournaments this week, and what makes this event even more interesting is the fact there's been a play-in day added, where teams such as Auburn, Kentucky and Texas A&M desperately need wins. Alabama is on the good side of the bubble as of now, while Auburn really needs that win over the Crimson Tide to feel good about its situation moving forward. As for the Aggies, who are just 8-20 vs. RPI Top 100, they must win two or three games here in Hoover to feel like they have a good chance at making the field. Kentucky likely needs to get to Sunday or win the tournament to get into the NCAA postseason field. In terms of other storylines, Mississippi State could use a win or two here in Hoover to assure an NCAA Regional host. For now, though, things look for John Cohen's club.


Where: Greenville, S.C.

Regular season champion: Western Carolina

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: Most campaigns we're talking about the SoCon getting two or three bids, perhaps even four to the postseason. However, this is one of those years where it would be an absolute shock to get more than one bid. Right now, Western Carolina, assuming it wins the SoCon tournament, would be the lone bid with a 38-18 overall record, 50 RPI and 0-3 mark vs. RPI Top 50. But in the end, this league will only get one bid to the postseason. I'd keep a very close eye on Georgia Southern and College of Charleston this week. Both teams have been inconsistent this spring, but both have also played very well this season. The two enter the tournament with RPIs of 144 and 78, respectively.


Where: Sugar Land, Texas

Regular season champion: Sam Houston State

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: The SLC is another league that we're often talking about as a potential two-bid league. However, that won't be the case this season barring a huge surprise, with someone knocking off SHSU in the conference tournament. The Bearkats aren't safely in as an at-large at this point, but I think they'd get in if the season ended today with a 36-18 overall record, 40 RPI and 3-1 record vs. RPI Top 50 teams. The next highest team in the pecking order is Southeastern Louisiana at 68 in the RPI. However, the Lions are just 1-11 vs. RPI Top 50, so they'll need to win the conference tournament. I'd keep an eye on No. 5 seed Lamar and No. 7 Central Arkansas. Both teams have played very well at times and could win this tourney.


Where: Rochester, Mich.

Regular season champion: South Dakota State

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: It's really too bad there's a transitional period for Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks made a statement in their first campaign by winning the Summit League by four games. However, they're not yet eligible for NCAA postseason play. With that said, SDSU is the favorite entering the conference tournament, though, it doesn't have a shot at an at-large bid with an RPI of 174, along with an 0-1 record vs. RPI Top 50. To say the least, the Summit League is a one-bid league no matter what happens this week.

Sun Belt

Where: Lafayette, La.

Regular season champion: Troy

Bubble teams: Florida Atlantic

Postseason picture: It has been a rather magical year for the Sun Belt, as it sits fifth overall in terms of conference RPI. Right now, South Alabama and Troy are sure bets to be in the NCAA postseason, while I feel very good about Louisiana-Lafayette getting in at this point with an RPI of 24, along with a 5-5 mark vs. RPI Top 50 teams. The only real question right now is Florida Atlantic, which has an RPI of 34 with a 7-11 record vs. RPI Top 50 teams. It's also worth noting the Owls finished the regular season tied for third place with ULL. The Sun Belt should get four postseason bids, but FAU needs a strong week to solidify its status.

Western Athletic

Where: Grand Prairie, Texas

Regular season champion: CSU Bakersfield

Bubble teams: None

Postseason picture: There are years when the WAC has the ability to get a couple of bids into the postseason. However, this isn't one of those campaigns with regular season champion CSU Bakersfield entering this week's conference tournament with an RPI of 95 and 1-3 mark vs. RPI Top 50. The next team behind CSUB is No. 4 seed Texas-San Antonio, who has an RPI of 129 with an 0-6 mark vs. RPI Top 50. This tournament absolutely is wide open, with Texas State and Dallas Baptist both teams with the personnel to surprise some folks.

West Coast

Where: Stockton, Calif.

Regular season champion: Gonzaga

Bubble teams: BYU, San Francisco

Postseason picture: The WCC is having a conference tournament for the first time, and what a year to have it with so much on the line. Gonzaga won the regular season championship, but likely also needs to win the tournament title to make the NCAA postseason with an RPI of 93 and 1-3 mark vs. RPI Top 50. However, the real question is which team out of BYU and San Francisco makes the field of 64. I don't think the WCC, ranked No. 14 in conference RPI, will get four bids, so that makes it a tough decision between the Cougars and Dons. BYU is 57 in the RPI with a 1-1 mark vs. RPI Top 50, while the Dons are 55 with a 1-4 mark vs. RPI Top 50. Though BYU has the regular season head-to-head series win, which team does better this week could very well determine that potential third bid.

Copyright 1994-2018 by Perfect Game. All rights reserved. No portion of this information may be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of Perfect Game.