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 Thursday'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 last night, but dropped a tough bout against rival Oregon earlier this week. OSU is still an absolute lock for a national seed, though, after winning the Pac-12, assembling a strong resume and getting up to 4 in the RPI.
Florida – STATUS: No change – Kevin O'Sullivan's Gators ran into the Kentucky pitching duo of Kyle Cody and Chandler Shepherd, and lost Wednesday. However, the Gators entered the week as an absolute lock for a national seed, and their situation remains the same with an RPI of 5.
Virginia – STATUS: No change – Sure, the Cavaliers dropped a road series to Wake Forest last weekend. But at the end of the day, the Cavaliers are very much a lock for a national seed with the nation's top RPI. Virginia is 5-3 vs. RPI Top 25, 13-6 vs. RPI Top 50 and 24-9 vs. RPI Top 100.
Florida State – STATUS: No change – The only way the Seminoles drop out of the mix as a national seed is if they fell apart at the ACC tournament. Well, that certainly didn't happen Wednesday against North Carolina, as Billy Strode struck out five in six shutout innings in a 7-1 victory. FSU has an RPI of 2 and is in great shape.
Indiana – STATUS: No change – Hoosiers senior lefthanded pitcher Joey DeNato put together yet another outstanding start in his team's Big Ten tournament-opening win over Iowa. The Hoosiers have an RPI of 3, up from earlier in the week, and remain a lock for a national seed barring a major surprise.
Miami (Fla.) – STATUS: No change – Though the Hurricanes dropped their first ACC tournament pool game against Georgia Tech, 6-3, I still like them as a national seed. The 'Canes won the ACC regular season title and remain top 15 in the RPI. Still, they want to finish the ACC tournament with wins over Duke and Clemson to be sure of themselves.
Louisiana-Lafayette – STATUS: No change – There were some tense moments late in the game against Louisiana-Monroe at the Sun Belt tournament, but the Ragin' Cajuns' bats prevailed in a 7-3 victory. ULL has an RPI of 7 with now an astonishing 50-7 overall record. For now, we like the Cajuns' chances.
South Carolina – STATUS: New addition – You could go either way with the Gamecocks or Rebels, and today, I'm giving the edge to the Gamecocks. South Carolina's RPI is better at 11 (vs. 15), and they're 8-7 vs. RPI Top 25, 15-10 vs. RPI Top 50 and 20-13 vs. RPI Top 100. It's anything but a done deal at this point.
Others to watch: Mississippi, Cal Poly, TCU
Cal Poly – STATUS: No change – The Mustangs are done with the regular season portion of their schedule, and finished with a 45-10 overall record, 19-5 mark in the Big West Conference. Additionally, the Mustangs have an RPI of 17 along with a 4-4 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 18-8 record vs. RPI Top 100.
LSU – STATUS: New addition – The situation regarding hosts is still fluid, but as of today, we're putting the Tigers in the hosting category. LSU run-ruled Vanderbilt on Wednesday and faces Arkansas on Thursday with righthanded pitcher Aaron Nola on the mound. The Tigers' non-conference resume is weak, but they're red-hot and have a 13-12 record vs. RPI Top 50 and 19-12 mark vs. RPI Top 100. LSU has an RPI of 16.
Washington – STATUS: No change – The surprising Huskies wrap up Pac-12 play at home against UCLA this weekend. The Huskies will be hosting an NCAA Regional barring some sort of meltdown against the Bruins. Washington has an RPI of 18 with a 14-9 mark vs. RPI Top 100 clubs.
Oklahoma State – STATUS: No change – The Cowboys might only have an RPI of 22, but they're a lock to host as far as I'm concerned. OSU continued its mastery of the Big 12 Wednesday afternoon with a 13-4 win over rival Oklahoma with Zach Fish hitting a grand slam and collecting six RBIs. OSU is 6-3 vs. RPI Top 25, 15-4 vs. RPI Top 50 and 26-12 vs. RPI Top 100.
Vanderbilt – STATUS: No change – Sure, the Commodores struggled in a disappointing loss to LSU with lefthanded pitcher Jared Miller having a tough start, but this team is still a host, and probably will stay that way barring an 0-2 finish in Hoover. The Commodores have a solid resume. Besides an RPI of 6, the Commodores are 8-7 vs. RPI Top 25, 19-15 vs. RPI Top 50 and 26-15 vs. RPI Top 100 – all good metrics.
Mississippi – STATUS: New addition – Ole Miss still has a good shot to move back in as a top eight national seed, but will need to get on a run in Hoover after losing the tournament opener against Arkansas. The Rebels have an RPI of 15 with a 5-7 record vs. RPI Top 25, 14-12 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 23-15 record vs. RPI Top 100. Once again, the Rebels are very much a tossup with South Carolina until one of the two differentiates itself from the other at the SEC tournament.
Rice – STATUS: No change – Skyler Ewing had two doubles and two RBIs as the Owls took care of business against Florida International in impressive fashion, 9-2. The Owls have an RPI of 8 and remain in good shape to host an NCAA Regional.
TCU – STATUS: No change – The Horned Frogs had a good day on the diamond as starting pitcher Jordan Kipper tossed seven shutout innings in an 8-5 win over Baylor. The Frogs improved to 39-15 overall, have an RPI of 12 and really have a nice resume, sitting 7-6 vs. RPI Top 25, 14-8 vs. RPI Top 100 and 23-13 vs. RPI Top 100.
Others to watch: Louisville, Houston, Texas
West Virginia: The Mountaineers looked to be down and out heading into the seventh inning against Kansas down 8-2. However, they stormed back with an eight-run frame and beat the Jayhawks 10-9 in thrilling fashion. With the win, WVU improved to 28-24 overall and now have an RPI of 29. Furthermore, the Mountaineers are 6-18 vs. RPI Top 50 and 17-21 vs. RPI Top 100. The Mountaineers aren't in the field just yet, but at least kept hope alive with the win over the Jayhawks.
Clemson: The Tigers were the last team in our field of 64 earlier this week, meaning they have work to do in the ACC tournament to make the NCAA postseason. Well, the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning, and held on later in the ninth in a 5-3 win over Duke. Clemson starting pitcher Matthew Crownover struck out nine, walked one and allowed just two runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings. The Tigers have an RPI of 50 with a 7-12 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 13-16 mark vs. RPI Top 100. Clemson isn't in completely safe territory just yet, but another win this week likely does it.
Georgia Tech: I felt confident about the Yellow Jackets' chances entering the week, and the confidence meter only increased Wednesday afternoon in a 6-3 win over Miami with outfielder Ryan Peurifoy going a perfect 4-for-4 to lead the offense. The Jackets are up to 34 in the RPI with a 5-5 record vs. RPI Top 25, 10-10 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 19-18 record vs. RPI Top 100. Tech is in good shape for an at-large bid at this point.
Evansville: After winning the Missouri Valley Conference regular season crown, the Purple Aces figured a couple of wins in the conference tournament would be good enough for an at-large bid. Well, Evansville's season is most likely over after going 0-2, including an 8-6 loss to Wichita State on Wednesday with starting pitcher Cole Isom allowing six runs in 6 2/3 innings. The Aces have an RPI of 77 with a 3-1 record vs. RPI Top 25, 5-5 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 10-6 mark vs. RPI Top 100. Those metrics aren't necessarily bad, but a poor RPI and showing in the conference tournament will doom the Aces, barring a surprise.
Old Dominion: We get the feeling Conference USA will be a two-bid league, but who gets the second bid? Obviously if Rice doesn't win the conference tournament, that team would get the bid. But what if Rice does, in fact, win the conference tourney? Well, ODU will be heavily considered. The Monarchs have an elimination game against FIU on Thursday, and it might just be a must-win situation. ODU's RPI is down to 40 and the metrics include a 3-5 mark vs. RPI Top 25, 3-6 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 18-17 record vs. RPI Top 100. ODU had a non-conference RPI of 16 along with a 15-10 road record. For now, ODU would slightly get in, but that could change Thursday.
Illinois: Illini starting pitcher Drasen Johnson struck out 10, walked three and allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings, but his team was unable to get past Michigan State in a 2-1 setback. Illinois was one of our first three teams out of the field earlier this week, so it had some work to do this week. Illinois faces Ohio State in an elimination game on Thursday, a contest that could decide its NCAA postseason fate. Illinois has an RPI of 54 with an 11-5 mark vs. RPI Top 100, along with a non-conference RPI in the 90s.
Indiana State: Here's one of the more interesting developments of the day. Does the NCAA Selection Committee reward the Sycamores' still high RPI of 23 after going 0-2 in the Missouri Valley tournament, or do they go way behind the RPI and look at what is a rather unimpressive resume. ISU is just 1-2 vs. RPI Top 25, 3-4 vs. RPI Top 50 and 13-12 vs. RPI Top 100. Those 13 wins vs. RPI Top 100 is a good metric, but take into account the Sycamores' strength of schedule ranked 83rd on the national stage. I think ISU would still be in as of today, but it might be in trouble by Friday.
Western Carolina: Despite winning the Southern Conference regular season crown, the Catamounts need to do something big in the conference tournament this week to punch their ticket to the NCAA postseason. Instead, the Catamounts are 0-1 after losing a 3-2 decision to Furman, with Paladins starting pitcher Matt Solter allowing just a run in seven innings. WCU's RPI is sitting at 49 with a 1-4 record vs. RPI Top 50 and 9-8 mark vs. RPI Top 100. The Catamounts could get in as an at-large if the season ended today, but they still have work to do.
Mercer: The Bears should be safe for the NCAA postseason even if they go 0-2 in the Atlantic Sun tournament. However, after losing the first game to Stetson, this after losing a series last weekend, the Bears are trending the wrong direction. With that said, Mercer still has an RPI of 38 with a 3-0 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 13-5 record vs. RPI Top 100. Craig Gibson's club is safe in my book – for now, at least.