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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Postseason snapshot: May 25 Part I

Kendall Rogers        

National seeds

Louisiana State
North Carolina
Florida State
Cal State Fullerton
Oregon State

The race for the final couple of national seeds couldn’t be more intriguing at this point. Florida State seemed like a sure bet entering the week, but the Seminoles are in trouble right now and in a must-win situation against Virginia at the ACC tournament after going 0-3 to start the week, while North Carolina State continues to have success. For now, we’re sticking with the Seminoles in this department because of their head-to-head series win over the Wolfpack, but should FSU drop the Virginia bout, all bets certainly are off, and this situation only will get more interesting.

The final national seed is even more intriguing to dissect. For now, we’re sticking to our guns with Oregon, but the Ducks have no room for error, and someone like Indiana, UCLA, Kansas State or perhaps even Mississippi State have a chance to move into the mix before Sunday.

Indiana will play for the Big Ten tournament championship against either Nebraska or Ohio State. The Hoosiers have an RPI of 12 with a 9-8 mark vs. RPI Top 50 teams. However, it also must be noted IU faced the 72nd overall strength of schedule, and the 81st strength of schedule nine-conference action. By comparison, Oregon, for instance, faced the 19th strength of schedule and 19th strength of schedule in non-conference play. The problem the Ducks run into is they’re only 6-10 vs. RPI Top 50, however, are 22-6 on the road this season. The Ducks also are 21-7 in the Pac-12 Conference, with the potential to finish the regular season with a 23-7 league mark.

There’s also UCLA and Mississippi State. The Bruins have an RPI of 15 and a good league record. However, they’re just 5-8 vs. RPI Top 50 teams and 19-11 vs. RPI Top 100, a mark that Oregon bests at this point. As for the Bulldogs, they’re riding high in the SEC tournament, but have an incredibly uphill battle to face from a national seed standpoint, thanks to finish SEC play with a 16-14 record. However, the Bulldogs still have an overall record of 43-16 with an impressive 21-14 mark vs. RPI Top 50 teams. Things start to get real interesting with the Bulldogs if they A) take care of business against Vanderbilt on Saturday, and B) win the SEC tournament title. For now, though, it’s my thought the Bulldogs are on the outside looking in when it comes to a national seed.

Kansas State, a team no one is talking about right now, is a team to really keep an eye on as the weekend progresses. The Wildcats won the Big 12 regular season title by 2 1/2 games and is 2-0 in the Big 12 tournament with a big game coming up against Oklahoma on Saturday. The Wildcats have an RPI of 18 with an overall record of 41-16. Additionally, they’re 8-6 vs. RPI Top 50, 23-13 vs. RPI Top 100 and have played the 41st strength of schedule this season.

Regional hosts

Mississippi State
North Carolina State
Kansas State
Virginia Tech
South Carolina

As intriguing as the race for the final couple of national seeds seems to be, the race for the final couple of NCAA Regional hosts is equally interesting to follow.

Palmetto State rivals Clemson and South Carolina entered the week in good shape as host sites. However, the Gamecocks are in a danger zone with Arkansas rolling through the SEC tournament, and Clemson dropped to 0-2 at the ACC tournament with a heartbreaking loss to North Carolina.

As a result of going 0-2, and Virginia Tech cruising to a 3-0 record in Durham, N.C., the Hokies have, for now, passed up the Tigers in our eyes. The Hokies have been sizzling hot as of late, winners of eight-straight contests and 9-1 in their last 10 games. Additionally, they have 13 wins vs. RPI Top 50 and are an impressive 13-8 on the road this spring. The only thing that could hold back the Hokies is they finished 15-14 in the ACC during the regular season, but that closely compares to Mississippi State in the SEC, which finished 16-14.

Though Virginia Tech has passed up Clemson for now from our standpoint, it’s certainly not set in stone. However, the Hokies have made an impressive push forward with outstanding play this week.

The situation with South Carolina might even be more fluid. The Gamecocks hold on to a host for now with an RPI of 13 with 11 wins vs. RPI Top 50, but Arkansas is about as hot on their heels as you can get at this point.

The Razorbacks are playing well at the SEC tournament after capturing wins over Ole Miss and LSU. They have a solid overall resume with a 17-15 record vs. RPI Top 50, along with a road series sweep over the Gamecocks and 18-11 mark in SEC play. However, the crutch at this point is having an RPI of 30, while the Gamecocks have such an impressive RPI.

Should Arkansas beat LSU on Saturday to advance to the SEC tourney title game, chances are great we change our prediction from South Carolina to Arkansas for that final SEC host site.

As you can see, there are still a lot of things to play for this weekend.
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