Leagues with a chance at multiple bids

May, 18, 2011

After looking at the likely one-bid leagues last week, this time the focus is on conferences that appear ready to send two or more teams to regional play.

ACC (7): There are really three races within the ACC -- the one for national seeds, the one for other hosting opportunities and the one-team bubble watch. NC State is the only contender with anything to worry about, and a three-game set with Boston College should help the Wolfpack finish the season strong. The top six teams in the conference are all contending for the top-16 spots.

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James Ramsey
Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMIJames Ramsey's Seminoles are in the hunt for a national seed in the NCAA tournament.

Virginia is a lock for a national seed at 45-6. Atlantic Division leader Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are all in contention for national seeds -- the Tar Heels can make their case against Virginia this weekend but are last in the pecking order for now since they sit fifth in the conference. Miami and Clemson are each on the hosting bubble but figure as No. 2 seeds for now -- a conference tournament title would probably be enough to get either team a No. 1 seed, but probably travelling to a smaller host (Stetson or Connecticut, if the NCAA decides to expand the hosting pool).

Atlantic Sun (2): The surprise entry on this list, this conference is actually closer to three bids than a single bid. The last time the A-Sun earned multiple bids was 2007, when regular-season champion Stetson made the field as an at-large after Jacksonville won the automatic bid. The Hatters have already clinched the regular-season title this year and could host a regional as a reward for their strong season if they don't stumble down the stretch. East Tennessee State is fourth in the conference but has been in the top 40 in RPI all season; a recent series win at NC State lifted the Buccaneers off the bubble and proved they could play with the big boys. The wild card is second-place Jacksonville. The Dolphins are on the bubble and won the season series at ETSU, but for now they are the second team out of the tournament.

Big 12 (6): Pretty cut-and-dried here. The winner of this weekend's Texas-Texas A&M series will be the regular-season champion and should earn a national seed. The loser will host a regional and, with a strong conference tournament showing, is still in the running for a national seed. Oklahoma is in contention for a hosting spot, but could run into the numbers game since several other south-central teams are in contention. Oklahoma State and Baylor are both safely in the field. The past several years, the conference has received one more bid than experts believed they deserved -- expect either Kansas State or Texas Tech to end up in the final field despite a bubble-caliber résumé (the Wildcats swept the season series, so they earn the nod here).

Big West (2): In an extremely down year for the conference, it could be a one-bid league if UC Irvine struggles down the stretch. Cal State Fullerton hasn't quite wrapped up the conference title, but the Titans will be in the field and their Southern California location should help them earn one of the 16 hosting spots. If the NCAA hands out bids by on-field performance, being second in the Big West and having a .700-plus winning percentage could earn UC Irvine a 2-seed; however, a mid-40 (but improving) RPI and weak strength of schedule could put the Anteaters closer to the bubble.

Conference USA (5): Like the Big 12, the tiers are well-formed here. Southern Miss and Rice battle for the regular-season title this weekend; the winner will be a regional host, while the loser will be on the top-16 cusp between hosting and travelling. East Carolina and UCF are both solidly in the field and are playing for a No. 2 seed over the next two weeks. Tulane is the last team in the field -- a tough home series against East Carolina this weekend will likely make or break the Green Wave's chances.

Pac-10 (6): The Pac-10's fate on Selection Monday will provide an excellent case study in the debate between on-field performance and computer ratings. Oregon State controls the conference race and swept Arizona State during the regular season, but the Beavers are barely in the top 20 in RPI. It will be difficult to deny the Pac-10 champ a national seed, and the Sun Devils are also in contention, sitting second in the conference with a strong RPI. UCLA is tied for second with ASU but in bubble territory, according to the RPI; name recognition and conference standing should push the Bruins up to a No. 2 seed. California, Arizona and Stanford are all safely in the regional field, and the next two weeks will determine whether they merit No. 2 or No. 3 seeds.

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Mitch Gaspard
Cliff Welch/Icon SMI Mitch Gaspard and Alabama have struggled in 2012 and are in the SEC cellar.

SEC (8): Several interesting dynamics this season, with completely different races shaping up in the Eastern and Western Divisions heading into the final weekend of the regular season. South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt are tied for first in the East at 20-7, and all three have virtually locked up national seeds. The West is a different story, as all six teams are between 13-14 and 11-16. With three games to play, any team but LSU can win the division and earn the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament. On the flip side, none have even wrapped up a spot at Hoover yet. Arkansas is in contention to host a regional, and a Western Division title would be enough for Baum Stadium to see postseason baseball. The at-risk list is down to three schools: Georgia, Auburn and Ole Miss. The Rebels have the worst RPI of the 10 SEC contenders. If they make the conference tournament, they will make a regional; given their current ninth-place standing, they are the first team out on the bubble. Georgia and Auburn are both dangerously close to a .500 overall record. The Tigers are four games over .500 (28-24) and finish against last-place Tennessee, a relatively safe position. The Bulldogs are 26-26 and must win more games than they lose the rest of the season -- a tough hill to climb with a three-game set against Vanderbilt and the SEC tournament still on the schedule.

Southland (2): Texas State has wrapped up the regular-season title, and the Bobcats' RPI places them in at-large bid territory. However, they've struggled in midweek games against the power teams in the area and are just 3-9 against the RPI top 50. Southeastern Louisiana has done better out of conference but is tied for third in the conference. The regular-season champion hasn't won the conference tournament since 2004 and the league has earned only two at-large bids in that span. Sam Houston State is on the outside of the bubble, but the Bearkats won the conference tournament the last three times they qualified (2007-09).

Sun Belt (3): The Sun Belt has sent multiple teams to regional play every year since 1989, and that trend will continue in 2011. Florida International, which won 15 games in a row before tying Arkansas State in a travel-shortened series finale, is in a strong position to earn a 2-seed. Troy leads FIU by a half-game in the standings and is a solid bet to make the tournament even without a conference title. Florida Atlantic and Louisiana-Lafayette are currently tied for third in the conference and reside on the bubble. Louisiana-Lafayette swept the season series, but FAU earns the conference's third bid with a better record against the top 50 (6-5) and a sizable RPI advantage. The Ragin' Cajuns have the arms to contend in the conference tournament, so they still have a chance to earn a bid on the diamond.

WAC (2): This is the conference currently on the multibid list that is most likely to send just a single team to the field of 64. Hawaii earns a bid at this point as the conference leader, but the Rainbows are on the wrong side of the bubble if they lose in the conference tournament. Fresno State is a lock, and the Bulldogs are a contender to host a regional.

A look at the field of 64:

Charlottesville Regional
No. 1 Virginia
James Madison
College Station Regional
Texas A&M
Mississippi State
Southeastern Louisiana
Michigan State
Tempe Regional
No. 8 Arizona State
UC Irvine
Kansas State
Fullerton Regional
Cal State Fullerton
Austin Regional
No. 5 Texas
Texas State
Wright State
Houston Regional
Oklahoma State
Corvallis Regional
No. 4 Oregon State
Fresno State
Norman Regional
Dallas Baptist
Oral Roberts
Gainesville Regional
No. 3 Florida
Florida Atlantic
DeLand Regional
Kent State
Tallahassee Regional
No. 6 Florida State
Florida International
Hattiesburg Regional
Southern Miss
Alcorn State
Nashville Regional
No. 7 Vanderbilt
East Tennessee State
NC State
Austin Peay
Chapel Hill Regional
North Carolina
East Carolina
Columbia Regional
No. 2 South Carolina
Coastal Carolina
Atlanta Regional
Georgia Tech
Stony Brook

Last five in:Florida Atlantic, Dallas Baptist, Southeastern Louisiana, Kansas State, Tulane First nine out:Ole Miss, Jacksonville, Louisiana, St. John's, Rhode Island, UNC Greensboro, Sam Houston State, Texas Tech, College of Charleston

Jeremy Mills is a researcher for ESPN and is a contributor to ESPN.com's college baseball coverage.

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