Slumpers drop out of regional projections
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:
No. 1 Texas
No. 8 Georgia Tech
College of Charleston
|Baton Rouge Regional
No. 4 LSU
No. 5 Rice
|College Station Regional
No. 3 UC Irvine
San Diego State
San Jose State
No. 6 Arizona State
|Chapel Hill Regional
No. 2 North Carolina
No. 7 Cal State Fullerton