Category archive: NCAA Men Baseball

ATLANTA -- A materials and science engineering major at Georgia Tech, a place where that kind of field of study means a little something, Jen Yee shouldn't have much trouble finding work. It's a perfect match when one of this generation's best hitters wants to graduate from one of the best engineering schools in the country and start designing the next generation of bats.

Jen YeeJerry Pillarelli/Georgia Tech AthleticsGeorgia Tech's Jen Yee is one of the generation's best hitters, so it's only fitting that upon graduation, she's interested in designing the next generation of bats.

Yet the imagination fails in trying to imagine what riches might await Yee if only she could mass-produce the traits no bat, no matter how exquisitely designed, can guarantee.

You might be able to swing the same bat as Yee, but few see what she sees at the plate.

"She just sees the ball so well; she sees it right out of the pitcher's hand," said Sharon Perkins, coach of sixth-ranked Georgia Tech. "She's pretty amazing with seeing the seams and seeing the ball out of the pitcher's hand, different grips and things like that -- knuckles and all kinds of different things. She's probably the most amazing hitter I've ever seen, ever had. She just picks it up so early, and she's able to get on time. I feel like she can get to any pitch."

With 14 games left in the regular season, Yee is hitting .577. She has recorded 102 official at-bats and come away with a hit 60 times. Her on-base percentage is .720, and she has struck out a grand total of two times. And all this from a hitter who comes no closer to slapping -- the favored technique of the occasional .500 hitter -- than slapping hands with teammates at home plate after hitting one of her 21 home runs.

And if you think that Perkins has a rooting interest in the debate or that the numbers aren't enough evidence, Virginia coach Eileen Schmidt added her endorsement when asked whether she has seen anyone better than the Yellow Jackets' redshirt senior star.

"No," Schmidt conceded. "That's not taking anything away from against [Arizona All-American Brittany] Lastrapes or … the entire Michigan lineup. She's got the swagger that everybody wants."

Schmidt had just watched Yee deny her team a victory on the road by hitting a tying home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh that set the stage for teammate Kristine Priebe's walk-off home run in a 5-3 win. The Cavaliers didn't take the route many others have this season of intentionally walking Yee -- Maryland did it six times in one three-game series, including to lead off each game -- but Schmidt admitted that the Cavs also hadn't intended to come quite that close to the plate in the final at-bat.

It's how Yee keeps piling up numbers long after opponents stopped pitching to her, to the extent they ever did. Against Virginia, she saw a steady diet of outside pitches, occasionally nicking the corner of the strike zone but largely ensuring Yee would only get to first base with a walk instead of taking extra bases with a hit (of course, as if opponents needed further frustration, she also has stolen 15 bases in 16 attempts).

How many good pitches does she see on average?

"In an at-bat, maybe one -- in a 3-0 count, and I'm not going to swing 3-0," Yee said. "It's hard to create hits for yourself and to be ready to swing when you're getting so many balls, but I really have to get on myself and be focused and be ready for the mistake."

Watching Yee's swing, a sudden snap of violence interrupting her otherwise casual movements, it looks as if she could launch balls into the gap using a frying pan. But she's as interested in how bats do what they do as in showing off the end result. A native of British Columbia who sat out the 2008 college season to train with the Canadian Olympic team (she also spent her freshman season at Niagara University before she transferred to Georgia Tech), she'll spend her one remaining semester in Atlanta next fall working on a research project for the Canadian sporting goods company, Combat, running impact tests as part of a study geared at finding ways to prolong bat life.

Opponents have plenty of time to worry about Yee helping future hitters; right now, they're just glad Danielle Lawrie isn't the only Canadian who will be riding off into the sunset after this season.

"I'm glad she's gone," Schmidt offered.

Graham Hays covers softball for ESPN.com. E-mail him at Graham.Hays@espn3.com. Follow him on Twitter: @grahamhays.

Few chances remain for bubble teams

May, 18, 2009
05/18/09
2:28
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It's conference tournament time, when bubbles are burst and the field is whittled to 64. Three teams wrapped up bids in the past week, as UC Irvine clinched the regular-season title in the Big West while Army and Bethune-Cookman took home conference tournament titles. Most of the field is set, but what's in store for the bubble teams and the long shots as Selection Monday approaches?

National Seeds

This seemed a lot clearer last week, before Rice and Georgia Tech struggled over the weekend. The top six are still solid, and the last two spots boil down to two separate debates.

First, who gets the second spot in the ACC. Georgia Tech has a gaudy RPI but finished fourth in the conference, while Florida State took the regular-season title with a less impressive RPI. The Seminoles can make this a moot point if they win the ACC tournament, as that should wrap up a national seed.

This will sound like a broken record, but the other debate is in the SEC. LSU has most likely already wrapped up one of the spots, so it comes down to Ole Miss and Florida. This one could be settled in Hoover, as the Rebels and Gators are on the same side of the bracket. For now, the Ole Miss series win at Florida is enough to pick up the last national seed.

Lurking in the shadows is Rice -- the Owls need a lot of help (both Florida and Ole Miss losing early in the SEC tournament), but a deep run in the Conference USA tournament puts them back in the discussion.

National seeds: No. 1 Texas, No. 2 UC Irvine, No. 3 Arizona State, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 6 Cal State Fullerton, No. 7 Georgia Tech and No. 8 Ole Miss.

The Rest of the Top 16

For the past several weeks, TCU has been a traveling No. 1 seed -- at this point, the Horned Frogs' success (as well as the late-season slump by Texas A&M) is enough to land Fort Worth the third hosting spot in Texas.

That doesn't mean the committee won't still be on the lookout for a "northern" host. Louisville has a better résumé than Ohio State, including a midweek sweep of the Buckeyes, and could merit a No. 1 seed if it sweeps through the Big East tournament.

East Carolina moves into a hosting role with a strong finish and the regular-season Conference USA crown. On the heels of sweeping Texas A&M, Oklahoma garners the second home regional from the Big 12.

The other eight hosts (in alphabetical order): Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Oklahoma, Rice and TCU.

And Everyone Else

It really seems as if the bubble is a lot smaller than normal this season. College of Charleston looks to be set up for disappointment again, as it slumped to finish fifth in the Southern Conference. None of the other "bubble out" teams has much to complain about if it doesn't make the field. There are usually three or four upsets in conference tournaments that shake things up, so of the last five in, Western Carolina and Baylor have the least to worry about.

Last five in (least secure first): BYU, Troy, Southeastern Louisiana, Baylor and Western Carolina.

First nine out (best chance first): College of Charleston, Duke, Stanford, New Mexico, UC Riverside, Hawaii, Tulane, Oklahoma State and Auburn.

The Field of 64

National seed regionals are shown next to the regional that they match up with for super regionals:

Austin Regional
No. 1 Texas
Texas State
Oregon State
Wagner
Forth Worth Regional
TCU
Kansas State
Dallas Baptist
Missouri State
Oxford Regional
No. 8 Ole Miss
Middle Tennessee
Baylor
Eastern Illinois
Tallahassee Regional
Florida State
Georgia Southern
Troy
Bethune-Cookman
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 4 LSU
Ohio State
Southeastern Louisiana
Southern
Houston Regional
Rice
Texas A&M
BYU
Dartmouth
Chapel Hill Regional
No. 5 North Carolina
Elon
George Mason
Binghamton
Greenville Regional
East Carolina
Virginia
Vanderbilt
Manhattan
Tempe Regional
No. 3 Arizona State
Minnesota
Cal Poly
Gonzaga
Norman Regional
Oklahoma
Arkansas
Washington State
Oral Roberts
Fullerton Regional
No. 6 Cal State Fullerton
Coastal Carolina
San Diego State
San Jose State
Gainesville Regional
Florida
Miami
Illinois
Jacksonville
Irvine Regional
No. 2 UC Irvine
Missouri
Boston College
Army
Clemson Regional
Clemson
South Carolina
Western Carolina
Kent State
Atlanta Regional
No. 7 Georgia Tech
Georgia
Kansas
Illinois-Chicago
Louisville Regional
Alabama
Louisville
Western Kentucky
Dayton

Slumpers drop out of regional projections

May, 11, 2009
05/11/09
11:41
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Not a lot of movement this week in my baseball regional projections, as most of the teams that were in either/or situations last week performed about the same as their closest competitors. Only the Southern Conference picked up a spot, as College of Charleston (riding a 10-game winning streak) moved into the field. That bid was at the expense of South Florida, on the assumption that a streaking Louisville would win the Big East's lone bid. Loyola Marymount, which has secured a spot in the WCC championship series against Gonzaga, moved into the field in place of slumping San Diego.

National Seeds

Not a great week for the top SEC teams, and the top teams on the West Coast are all red-hot. This will likely change before Selection Monday, but for now there are three national seeds from out West and just one from the SEC, with Ole Miss and Florida knocking on the door if any of the others stumble down the stretch. Since the selection committee can't match those teams from the Pac-10 and Big West up in the super regionals, they'll likely put all three in the same side of the bracket in Omaha.

National seeds: No. 1 Texas, No. 2 North Carolina, No. 3 UC Irvine, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Rice, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 7 Cal State Fullerton and No. 8 Georgia Tech.

The Rest of the Top 16

The second tier of regional hosts is pretty well set at this point. Miami and Georgia are both struggling and, in addition to needing to be nearly perfect down the stretch, need others to falter to get back into the discussion. The two teams closest to hosting right now that aren't in the top 16 are a surging Alabama (second in the SEC) and Oklahoma (which could pass Texas A&M in this discussion with a strong showing in their upcoming series).

There's a new name under discussion for a hosting spot from the "northern" part of the country -- on the heels of beating Ohio State twice in the past week, Louisville staked its claim for a home regional. The Cardinals hosted a Super Regional in 2007 and drew more than 12,000 fans for the three-game set against Oklahoma State. TCU once again falls victim to the committee's desire for geographical balance (and the strength of Texas baseball this year) and gets sent packing as a No. 1 seed.

The other eight hosts (in alphabetical order): Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Virginia.

And Everyone Else

Oklahoma State is all but out of the Big 12 tournament, while Auburn has been eliminated from contention for the SEC tournament (and Kentucky needs some help). With enough strong teams in the mid-major conferences, that should be enough to knock these three off the bubble despite their strong RPI rankings. All eight teams that make the SEC tournament will be in the NCAA field, while Duke and Texas Tech will be the only teams to make their conference tournament and miss the regionals from the ACC and Big 12.

The Southern Conference gets a fourth team again with all of the top contenders playing well down the stretch. The Big Ten stays at three teams (with Illinois on the bubble), while Conference USA (two bids) and the Pac-10 (three bids) remain well below their historical norm.

Two teams that have appeared in every projection up to this point fell out due to recent struggles. San Diego will not be in the WCC championship series, so Loyola Marymount jumped over it and into the field. Hawaii has also played poorly recently -- the Rainbows host the WAC tournament, but for now that bid will go to first-place San Jose State.

Last Nine In (least secure first): Loyola Marymount, Baylor, Western Carolina, Washington State, Illinois, Dallas Baptist, Southeastern Louisiana, College of Charleston and Kansas.

First Nine Out (best chance first): Kentucky, Hawaii, Duke, BYU, San Diego, Troy, New Mexico, Oklahoma State and UC Santa Barbara.

The Field of 64

National seed regionals are shown next to the regional that they match up with for super regionals:

Austin Regional
No. 1 Texas
Oregon State
Dallas Baptist
Sacred Heart
Fayetteville Regional
Arkansas
Oklahoma
Boston College
Oral Roberts
Atlanta Regional
No. 8 Georgia Tech
Georgia
Western Carolina
Manhattan
Gainesville Regional
Florida
Miami
College of Charleston
Bethune-Cookman
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 4 LSU
Missouri
Southeastern Louisiana
Southern
Tallahassee Regional
Florida State
Alabama
Illinois
Jacksonville
Houston Regional
No. 5 Rice
Texas State
Baylor
Dartmouth
College Station Regional
Texas A&M
Minnesota
Washington State
Eastern Illinois
Irvine Regional
No. 3 UC Irvine
Ohio State
San Diego State
San Jose State
Charlottesville Regional
Virginia
East Carolina
Gonzaga
George Mason
Tempe Regional
No. 6 Arizona State
Cal Poly
Kansas
Illinois-Chicago
Clemson Regional
Clemson
Coastal Carolina
South Carolina
Binghamton
Chapel Hill Regional
No. 2 North Carolina
Elon
Vanderbilt
Indiana State
Louisville Regional
TCU
Louisville
Western Kentucky
Dayton
Fullerton Regional
No. 7 Cal State Fullerton
Kansas State
Loyola Marymount
Army
Oxford Regional
Ole Miss
Georgia Southern
Middle Tennessee
Kent State

Projections with plenty of options

May, 4, 2009
05/04/09
4:13
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With only two weeks left before conference tournaments, it seems like there's a lot more up for grabs this season than in years past. The SEC picture seems to change every week among the six biggest contenders. There are still four ACC teams vying for two probable hosting slots. And the movement among lower slots is just as intense. At least we can determine one team, as the Dartmouth Big Green claimed their first conference title since 1987 by defeating Ivy League rival Cornell two games to one.

National seeds

Two weeks ago, Ole Miss was likely headed for a regional road trip; now the Rebels are tied for the best record in the SEC and are slotted as a national seed. Florida swept Georgia in Athens to move the Gators into consideration for a national seed, while the Bulldogs are perilously close to losing a chance to host after being among the top 8 two weeks ago. And Cal State Fullerton is heating back up and making difficult the decisions at the back end of the eight national seeds.

It breaks down to four SEC teams (LSU, Ole Miss, Florida, Arkansas) playing for two national seeds, and three West Coast teams (UC Irvine, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton) battling for two more -- unless Georgia Tech struggles down the stretch. The top four (North Carolina, Texas, UC Irvine, Rice) seem pretty secure at this point, but three weeks is an eternity when it comes to bracket projection.

National seeds: No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 UC Irvine, No. 4 Rice, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Georgia Tech, No. 7 Ole Miss and No. 8 Arizona State.

The rest of the top 16

Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton and Florida all slot here after long consideration for a spot in the top 8. Texas A&M is also solidly in this tier as a contender in the Big 12. The other four bids fall into two main discussion points.

The first four teams up for debate reside in the ACC -- Florida State, Virginia, Clemson and Miami. Conference standing splits two of the contenders, as the Seminoles have the best record in the league while the Hurricanes languish in sixth place. With that settled, there's a choice between Clemson and Virginia -- two teams that don't meet during the regular season. The Tigers are 4-5 against the other likely hosts in the ACC, while the Cavaliers are 3-3-1. Both are admirable marks, so we'll break the tie with Clemson's superior RPI.

That leaves five likely contenders for the other two No. 1 seeds -- Georgia, Oklahoma, TCU and two of the stronger Big Ten teams (Ohio State and Minnesota). Don't write off the Big Ten this year, as those two schools and Illinois are all having great years and are strong in the RPI. Oklahoma has struggled recently to fall off this bubble, while Georgia is probably one more bad weekend from the same fate. At this point, neither northern school is likely to get a top-16 seed -- however, the committee will likely allow one northern host to spread the game this season. For the second straight week, TCU is the school that gets to travel as a No. 1 seed to Ohio State.

In short, the other eight hosts (in alphabetical order): Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State and Texas A&M.

Everyone else

The big three conferences continue to send 22 teams to the tournament, with the SEC leading the way with eight. This time around is strictly "chalk" for those conferences, with no teams currently outside the top 8 in the conference earning a bid to the NCAA tournament. That's not good for Auburn, Oklahoma State or Kentucky, but those three have time to get back into the picture.

No team wants to step up to claim a third slot from the Pac-10, but Washington State has the easiest remaining road of the contenders. The Mountain West is also starting to look a little weaker -- TCU and San Diego State are safe, but BYU and New Mexico have work to do. With three Big West teams, two WCC teams and just one bid from the WAC, it seems like a down year for the West, which could yield as few as 10 bids.

The mid-majors stand to benefit the most from these open bids (and also from the weakness in Conference USA). The Southern Conference should get at least three teams in, while the Big East, Southland and Sun Belt all look like multibid leagues.

Last Five In: Dallas Baptist, Illinois, Washington State, Missouri, Vanderbilt
First Nine Out: Oklahoma State, Auburn, BYU, College of Charleston, New Mexico, Loyola Marymount, UC Riverside, Duke, UCLA

The Field of 64

National seed regionals are shown next to the regional that they match up with for super regionals:

Chapel Hill Regional
No. 1 North Carolina
East Carolina
Vanderbilt
George Mason
Gainesville Regional
Florida
Miami
South Florida
Bethune-Cookman
Tempe Regional
No. 8 Arizona State
Cal Poly
Hawaii
Manhattan
Fullerton Regional
Cal State Fullerton
Louisville
San Diego
Illinois-Chicago
Houston Regional
No. 4 Rice
Oklahoma
Illinois
Dartmouth
College Station Regional
Texas A&M
Coastal Carolina
Washington State
Creighton
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 5 LSU
Minnesota
Southeastern Louisiana
Southern
Tallahassee Regional
Florida State
Alabama
Gonzaga
Jacksonville
Irvine Regional
No. 3 UC Irvine
San Diego State
Baylor
Army
Fayetteville Regional
Arkansas
Kansas State
Western Kentucky
Oral Roberts
Atlanta Regional
No. 6 Georgia Tech
Georgia Southern
Kansas
Eastern Illinois
Athens Regional
Georgia
Elon
Boston College
Rhode Island
Austin Regional
No. 2 Texas
Oregon State
Texas State
Dallas Baptist
Columbus Regional
TCU
Ohio State
Missouri
Kent State
Oxford Regional
No. 7 Ole Miss
Virginia
Middle Tennessee State
Central Connecticut State
Clemson Regional
Clemson
South Carolina
Western Carolina
Binghamton

Standings play more into baseball projections

April, 27, 2009
04/27/09
10:58
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Quite a bit of a movement in this week's projections, but that's at least as much due to a change in methodology as to results on the field. Last week's initial projections focused too much on RPI and projecting how teams would do for the rest of the season; this week's still include a healthy dose of RPI but pay a lot more attention to conference standings (and head-to-head results).

National seeds

The big winners are UC Irvine and Arizona State, who both jump into national seeds as they run away with their respective conferences. Cal State Fullerton is the biggest loser as it currently stands third in the Big West after a swoon in the middle of the season. The Titans can definitely play their way back into a national seed against a solid closing schedule. The other team that just missed a national seed is Georgia, the current odd team out among the three SEC contenders after dropping two of three to Ole Miss. Arkansas hosts LSU next weekend, which should help sort things out.

That leaves the following national seeds with four weeks to play (from No. 1 to No. 8): North Carolina, Rice, UC Irvine, Georgia Tech, Texas, Arizona State, Arkansas and LSU.

The rest of the top 16

There is one traveling No. 1 seed this week; TCU gets the boot as the committee is unlikely to put four regionals in Texas (along with three in bordering states). That keeps Ohio State as a host as a No. 2 seed. Baylor, Coastal Carolina and TCU make way for a fourth SEC host as well as spots for the top two teams in the Big 12: Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The final slot comes down to a slugfest between Clemson, Florida State and Virginia. Florida State has the best conference standing, while Clemson had a great weekend against Georgia Tech. Virginia got only one game in against either of them due to scheduling (they miss Clemson this year) and weather (two cancellations against Florida State). For now, the bid goes to Virginia (but not with much confidence).

For those keeping track at home, the other eight hosts (in alphabetical order): Cal State Fullerton, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Virginia.

And everyone else

There ended up being a lot more conferences with multiple bids this time around, probably more hedging bets than anything else. Twenty-two of the teams come from this year's clear big three: eight from the SEC and seven each from the ACC and Big 12. Three western conferences get three apiece (Big West, Mountain West, Pac-10), as does the Southern Conference. Depending on how conference tournaments play out, seven more leagues stand to send more than one team to the tournament. That leaves 16 conferences with one bid; only Hawaii from the WAC will definitely get an at-large bid from that bunch if the Rainbow Warriors lose in the conference tournament, with Eastern Illinois, George Mason and Rhode Island potentially filling the role of bubble busters.

There was lots of competition for the last couple of spots in the field, and most of the last five in have a mirror image among the last nine out. Washington State and USC are fighting for a third spot for the Pac-10, Southeastern Louisiana swept Sam Houston State for second in the Southland this weekend and Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount are battling for a bid from the West Coast Conference. Auburn and Virginia Tech are both on the outside looking in for their respective conference tournaments, while New Mexico leads the competitive Mountain West conference but has the worst RPI of the four contenders.

Last five in: Washington State, Gonzaga, Sam Houston State, Louisville and Vanderbilt.
First nine out: Auburn, Missouri, Southeastern Louisiana, USC, New Mexico, Virginia Tech, UC Santa Barbara, Troy and Dallas Baptist.

The Field of 64

National seed regionals are shown next to the regional they match up with for super regionals:

Chapel Hill Regional
No. 1 North Carolina
Coastal Carolina
Louisville
George Mason
Columbus Regional
TCU
Ohio State
Vanderbilt
Kent State
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 8 LSU
Boston College
Gonzaga
Southern
Charlottesville Regional
Virginia
Elon
Kansas
Liberty
Atlanta Regional
No. 4 Georgia Tech
Georgia Southern
South Carolina
Rhode Island
Athens Regional
Georgia
Clemson
Western Carolina
Jacksonville
Austin Regional
No. 5 Texas
Oregon State
Texas State
Central Connecticut State
Oxford Regional
Ole Miss
Florida State
Middle Tennessee State
Eastern Illinois
Irvine Regional
No. 3 UC Irvine
San Diego
Washington State
Manhattan
Coral Gables Regional
Miami
Florida
South Florida
Bethune-Cookman
Tempe Regional
No. 6 Arizona State
Cal Poly
Oklahoma State
Illinois-Chicago
Fullerton Regional
Cal State Fullerton
Hawaii
San Diego State
Army
Houston Regional
No. 2 Rice
Baylor
Sam Houston State
Dartmouth
College Station Regional
Texas A&M
East Carolina
BYU
Maine
Fayetteville Regional
No. 7 Arkansas
Kansas State
Western Kentucky
Missouri State
Norman Regional
Oklahoma
Alabama
Minnesota
Oral Roberts

Debut baseball regional projections

April, 20, 2009
04/20/09
12:39
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There are five weeks until the selection committee announces the 64-team baseball tournament. As many schools come to the end of the semester and head into finals, here's how the regionals could shape up as of mid-April. This will be a weekly feature heading up to the selection show on Memorial Day, and this week's projections will be a little long because I spelled out some of the decision-making process since they're the first of the year.

First, the 11 conferences with more than one bid:

Eight teams -- SEC
Seven teams -- ACC, Big 12
Four teams -- Big West, Southern
Three teams -- Mountain West, Pac-10
Two teams -- Big Ten, Conference USA, Sun Belt, West Coast

It's been a down year for the Pac-10 and Conference USA -- the conferences are typically in contention to send five teams each to the field of 64, but this year they'll be hard-pressed to match that number combined. And unless Southern Miss or one of the middle-of-the-pack Pac-10 teams gets hot down the stretch, they could get only two teams each.

Their loss is somebody else's gain -- and in 2009, the two most likely beneficiaries are the Southern Conference and Mountain West Conference. Each could get as many as four teams in, and unless several teams swoon down the stretch, they should each get at least three apiece.

No big surprises among the other big conferences this year -- everyone who makes the SEC tournament should also be among the last 64 standing. That's also possible for the ACC, with Virginia Tech and Duke lurking on the fringes of consideration. Seven might be the upper bound for the Big 12; if Missouri gets hot down the stretch and gets into contention, it will likely come at the expense of one of the Kansas teams or Oklahoma State.

As for the 16 host sites (in this case, all No. 1 seeds), here's how things look through April 19:

ACC (4): Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina
Big 12 (2): Baylor, Texas
Big Ten (1): Ohio State
Big South (1): Coastal Carolina
Big West (2): Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine
C-USA (1): Rice
MWC (1): TCU
Pac-10 (1): Arizona State
SEC (3): Arkansas, Georgia, LSU

The three teams with the most tenuous grips are Coastal Carolina (especially after struggling this weekend), Clemson (there will be four ACC hosts, but the last spot could go to Florida State or Virginia) and Ohio State (RPI won't be great at the end of the season, but a great chance for the NCAA to reward a strong northern school). The teams most likely to jump into consideration are the ACC duo of Florida State and Virginia (along with Clemson, a three-team race for one hosting slot), Ole Miss (next in line among the SEC teams), Oklahoma (if it can rebound from a tough weekend against Texas) and Cinderella-candidate Hawaii (great RPI and gets to host the WAC tournament in Honolulu).

THE REGIONALS

It's time to unveil the 16 regional projections. National seeds are listed, and the regional following the national seed is paired against it in the super regionals.

Chapel Hill Regional: North Carolina (No. 1 national seed), East Carolina, Kansas State, George Mason
Conway Regional: Coastal Carolina, Florida State, College of Charleston, Rhode Island

Fullerton Regional: Cal State Fullerton (No. 2), San Diego, USC, Manhattan
Tempe Regional: Arizona State, Cal Poly, BYU, Eastern Illinois

Atlanta Regional: Georgia Tech (No. 3), Auburn, Georgia Southern, Central Connecticut State
Irvine Regional: UC Irvine, Virginia, San Diego State, Bucknell

Austin Regional: Texas (No. 4), Alabama, Gonzaga, UIC
Fort Worth Regional: TCU, Oklahoma, Dallas Baptist, Oral Roberts

Houston Regional: Rice (No. 5), Texas A&M, UC Santa Barbara, Dartmouth
Baton Rouge Regional: LSU, Hawaii, Boston College, Southern

Athens Regional: Georgia (No. 6), Elon, Middle Tennessee State, Jacksonville
Clemson Regional: Clemson, South Carolina, Western Carolina, Maine

Coral Gables Regional: Miami (No. 7), Florida, Kansas, Bethune-Cookman
Columbus Regional: Ohio State, Oregon State, Louisville, Kent State

Fayetteville Regional: Arkansas (No. 8), Oklahoma State, Western Kentucky, Missouri State
Waco Regional: Baylor, Ole Miss, Minnesota, Texas State

Last Five In: USC, Dallas Baptist, Gonzaga, Middle Tennessee State, College of Charleston

Next Nine In: Southeastern Louisiana, Loyola Marymount, Vanderbilt, UNC Wilmington, San Jose State, Kentucky, Troy, Virginia Tech, Long Beach State

NOTES

Among the national seeds, Arkansas lays claim to the final spot by playing well on the road after LSU lost three games at home this week. Along with the Bayou Bengals, Arizona State also has a solid claim for a national seed, which would most likely come at the expense of a struggling Miami team.

As for the overall seedings, things tended to break down into three main clusters. The first 13 teams fell into place pretty nicely, which left an interesting debate (hashed out earlier) over the last three hosts. Then there was a group of 18 more teams that were a step down from that first group, which filled out the last three No. 1s and all but one of the No. 2 seeds. That left room for 15 more at-large teams, with Elon getting the last of the 2-seeds and the others slotted as 3s.

Everyone does a "Last Five In," but in this case, it was really more of a "Last Three In." Middle Tennessee State (or Western Kentucky, whichever doesn't win the Sun Belt) and College of Charleston are both on the safe side; Gonzaga, Dallas Baptist and USC are really the bubble teams at this point. Dallas Baptist doesn't have as strong a schedule as it did when it earned an at-large last year, so the Patriots would be easy for the committee to overlook. The selection of USC was on the basis of the Trojans looking like the best of the rest in the Pac-10. The other slot will likely go to the second-place team in the West Coast Conference, which should be Gonzaga or Loyola Marymount.

Then again, with three or four upsets in conference tournaments, the Last Five In section becomes moot. The prime candidates to be bubble busters are borderline No. 3 seeds from one-bid conferences: Texas State (Southland), George Mason (Colonial), Rhode Island (Atlantic 10) and Eastern Illinois (Ohio Valley). But any upset could leave the bubble teams on the outside looking in on Memorial Day.

Among those that just missed, Southeastern Louisiana has the strongest claim -- and given the penchant for upsets in the Southland tournament, that could spell trouble for others with Texas State also in contention for an at-large slot. Vanderbilt and Kentucky fall victim to the SEC numbers game, but could overtake Auburn or South Carolina with a strong late push. UNC Wilmington hosts the Colonial tournament, while San Jose State is among the list of contenders to knock off Hawaii in the WAC tournament.

That does it for this week's aluminum-bat version of bracketology. As always, comments are welcome.

Thursday tidbits: Records all around

March, 12, 2009
03/12/09
5:36
PM ET
ESPN's Statistics and Analysis team compiled quick notes about some of Thursday's college sports action from various schools' sports information departments.

Softball

Pacific versus Nebraska, 8:30 p.m.
Five runs against Pacific on Thursday would give Nebraska its 100th run of the season and a new school record. If the Cornhuskers score five runs, they will have scored 100 runs in a season by their 16th game, faster than any softball squad in school history. The 1978 and 2006 teams each hit the 100-run mark in the 17th game. Nebraska also could break another school record. The Huskers have scored at least eight runs in their past four games to tie the program's longest streak of games with at least eight runs. Scoring eight runs against Pacific would give them a record-setting five straight games.

Women's lacrosse

Hofstra at No. 1 Northwestern, 7 p.m.
Northwestern seeks its 45th consecutive win at home when it plays Hofstra on Thursday. The Wildcats' 44 consecutive home wins surpassed Maryland's home winning streak from 1997 to 2001 (41 games). Nine of the games in Northwestern's streak were NCAA tournament games, and the last time the Wildcats lost on home turf was a 10-9 overtime loss to Vanderbilt on May 6, 2004.

Baseball

San Diego at No. 10 Rice, 7:30 p.m.
Rice coach Wayne Graham looks to earn his 796th victory when the Owls face San Diego. Graham is 795-303 at Rice with a school-record .724 winning percentage -- the equivalent of a major league ballclub's winning 117 games in one season.

Weekend tidbits

February, 13, 2009
02/13/09
3:49
PM ET
As we head into a weekend full of college sports matchups, here are some interesting tidbits the ESPN Statistics and Analysis team dug up:

Division II baseball

No. 1 University of Tampa at No. 12 West Alabama -- 3 pm.
After opening the season as the No. 2 team in the nation, the Tampa baseball team has taken the top spot in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA II Poll.

Their No. 1 ranking is the first since Week 3 of last season. The Spartans have now been represented in the Top 25 for 62 consecutive weeks. Tampa has also been in the top 10 for 51 straight weeks, more than any NCAA II team. The Spartans are off to a 5-0 start this season with victories over the Florida Institute of Technology, Georgia College & State U., and Rollins.

Division I women's swimming/diving

Northeast Conference Championships -- New Haven, Conn.
Central Connecticut State won't have to go far to defend its 2009 NEC Championship -- just down the road to Yale. Last year, the Blue Devils captured a record 18 of the meet's 20 events for 649.5 points. They were followed by St. Francis (Pa.) with 457, Wagner with 436.5, Sacred Heart with 222, Mount St. Mary's with 132 and St. Francis (N.Y.) with 126. This year, Bryant joins the fray, which begins tomorrow.

Division III women's ice hockey

Bowdoin College at Trinity College, 7 pm.
Trinity junior goalie Isabel Iwachiw combined to make 73 saves in a pair of Bantam wins over Connecticut College last week, as she recorded a .986 save percentage. On Feb. 6, Iwachiw turned aside 31 shots in a 3-1 win. She followed on Feb. 7 with 42 stops in a 4-0 victory, her third shutout of the season. Iwachiw is 10-5-2 in net for the Bantams this year with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.