Editor's note: The 16 regional hosts for the NCAA baseball tournament were announced on Sunday afternoon. With the complete 64-team set to be unveiled on Monday (ESPN, 12:30 p.m. ET), Jeremy Mills takes one last crack at filling out this year's field. How close will he come to getting it right?
Conference tournament play cleared up several things, and the final bubble looks about right. There will be a few bubble teams with a legitimate claim that they were robbed, but most teams that just missed making the field of 64 could have taken care of business during tournament play this week.
This final projection shows a lot of movement from last week's version, mostly correcting irrational decisions from the previous week. With a week to think about it, Kentucky's 16 wins against RPI top-50 teams clearly outweighs the debacle in Athens, Ga., to close the season. Likewise, NC State's great record against the top 25 carries the day over Boston College's tougher overall schedule.
Additionally, conference tournament results knocked off some of the other sketchy at-large candidates. Upsets in several conference tournaments -- Atlantic Sun, Big East, Conference USA, Southland and Sun Belt -- removed a number of bubble spots. Liberty didn't win a game against the top 50, Pitt struggled down the stretch (including going 1-2 in the Big East tournament) and the Pac-10 is unlikely to get eight teams, despite the league's depth.
The end of this projection will list the last five teams in and first nine teams out, but it really boiled down to five teams competing for the last two spots. Those five are listed below, with the first two making the field and the last three excluded.
• In: Florida Gulf Coast ran away with the A-Sun regular-season crown, and would be a great story if it made the tournament in its first year as a full-fledged Division I member.
• In: Elon struggled early in the season but bounced back to finish third in a deep Southern Conference.
• Out: Cal drew the short straw in the Pac-10 since it had "just" a .500 record against the top 100 and struggled down the stretch.
• Out: Louisiana-Lafayette tied for the regular-season title in the Sun Belt, but Florida International won the auto-bid and Florida Atlantic had a better record against the top 50.
• Out: Texas State fell victim to the curse of the Southland high seed in the tournament, but also didn't convert its opportunities during the regular season (2-10 against top 50).
There were no changes among the national seeds -- South Carolina went 0-2 in the SEC tournament, but none of the other contenders look likely to move past the Gamecocks (especially with 20 wins against the top 50). Georgia Tech went 1-2 in the ACC tournament. Cal State Fullerton continues to win, but will the committee award three national seeds to the West? TCU is still a dark horse -- the Frogs' strength of schedule is hurt by six games against Air Force, but their record against the top 50 and 100 compares favorably with probable national seed Louisville.
Hopefully this projection is as accurate overall as last week's location projections. All 16 sites from last week were chosen as hosts this afternoon, with Connecticut and Oklahoma edging out Florida State and Vanderbilt for the final two home regionals. One of the two near-misses will be sent to Norwich, Conn., and the Seminoles' ACC tournament title looks to be the differentiating factor.
Tune in to the Road to Omaha selection show at 12:30 p.m. ET Monday on ESPN!
No. 1 Arizona State
No. 8 South Carolina
|Myrtle Beach Regional
No. 5 Coastal Carolina
No. 4 Florida
Florida Gulf Coast
|Coral Gables Regional
No. 3 Texas
|Fort Worth Regional
|Los Angeles Regional
No. 6 UCLA
Cal State Fullerton
No. 7 Louisville
No. 2 Virginia
College of Charleston
Last five in: North Carolina, Oregon State, Arizona, Florida Gulf Coast, Elon
First nine out: California, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas State, Southeastern Louisiana, Western Carolina, Liberty, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Wichita State