Less than two weeks from now is Selection Monday in college baseball – the day that the field of 64 for the NCAA baseball championship is announced.
In 2016, Louisiana matched its all-time high with five teams in the tournament, including a pair of regional host sites in Baton Rouge in Lafayette.
Can Louisiana get to five again this year? It’s very possible. With five teams currently in the top 50 of the RPI, there are certainly that many teams in contention for at-large berths – and that doesn’t even take into account the possible conference tournament upset.
Let’s break down the contenders one by one, and where they stand heading into the final week of the regular season, in order of their current standing in the RPI:
RPI (from WarrenNolan.com): 11
Record vs Division I: 34-17
Conference Record/Standing: 18-9, leads SEC West
Remaining Schedule: vs Northwestern State, 3-game series at Mississippi State, SEC Tournament (Hoover, Alabama)
Outlook: Barring a collapse, the Tigers are in great shape to be a regional host. A series win in Starkville might be the ticket to vault Paul Mainieri’s club into a national seed. If not, LSU would have to make some noise in Hoover. Regardless, it appears at least part of the road to Omaha will run through Alex Box.
Record vs Division I: 34-16
Conference Record/Standing: 20-10, 2nd in Southland
Remaining Schedule: vs Southern Miss (at Biloxi, Mississippi), 3-game series vs Seton Hall, Southland Tournament (Sugar Land, Texas)
Outlook: The Lions’ worksheet is solid. However, McNeese could rank ahead of them based on the likely outright regular-season title, and if anyone other than McNeese or Southeastern wins the conference tournament, could the league get three teams? A tournament win for the Lions could deliver a No. 2 regional seed.
RPI (from WarrenNolan.com): 33
Record vs Division I: 35-16
Conference Record/Standing: 16-11, 3rd in Conference USA
Remaining Schedule: 3-game series at Middle Tennessee, C-USA Tournament (Biloxi, Mississippi)
Outlook: After going three decades without an NCAA berth, the Bulldogs are in position to make back-to-back appearances. Conference USA (currently the No. 6-ranked RPI league) got four teams in the tournament last year, so a good finish could put Lane Burroughs’ club in good shape. Beware of the upset conference tournament winner, however.
RPI (from WarrenNolan.com): 37
Record vs Division I: 33-16
Conference Record/Standing: 20-7, leads Southland
Remaining Schedule: vs Houston, 3-game series vs Lamar, Southland Tournament (Sugar Land, Texas)
Outlook: The Cowboys need two wins against Lamar to clinch the outright conference title. In theory, the regular-season title should be enough to get McNeese in. But with only a 4-10 record against the RPI top 50, another solid win – such as that home game against Houston Tuesday night – would certainly help.
RPI (from WarrenNolan.com): 47
Record vs Division I: 32-20-1
Conference Record/Standing: 16-10-1, 2nd in Sun Belt West
Remaining Schedule: 3-game series at ULM, Sun Belt Tournament (Statesboro, Georgia)
Outlook: The big question here is, how many teams can the Sun Belt get in, and where would the Cajuns rank? They have the third-best RPI but only the fifth-best league record, and they have gone just 3-6 in the last three conference weekends. Might take a run to the tournament final to get Tony Robichaux’s club on the right side of the bubble.