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Projected Field Of 64: April 6

Gainesville, FL Houston
1. (1) Florida^* 1. Houston^*
2. Michigan State 2. Texas Tech
3. Arizona 3. Lamar
4. Princeton* 4. Creighton*
Coral Gables, FL Stillwater, OK
1. (2) Miami^* 1. Oklahoma State^
2. Florida Atlantic* 2. Mississippi
3. West Virginia 3. Missouri State*
4. Florida A&M* 4. Wright State*
Louisville, KY Ann Arbor, MI
1. (3) Louisville^ 1. Michigan^*
2. Tulane 2. Clemson
3. Arkansas 3. UCLA
4. Monmouth* 4. Kent State*
College Station, TX Corvallis, OR
1. (4) Texas A&M^ 1. Oregon State^
2. Rice 2. Virginia
3. Nebraska 3. Brigham Young*
4. Alabama State* 4. Southeast Missouri State*
Fort Worth, TX Nashville
1. (5) Texas Christian^* 1. Vanderbilt^
2. South Alabama* 2. College of Charleston*
3. Stanford 3. Louisiana-Lafayette
4. Hartford* 4. Virginia Commonwealth*
Starkville, MS Chapel Hill, NC
1. (6) Mississippi State^ 1. North Carolina^
2. Georgia Tech 2. East Carolina
3. Southern Mississippi 3. Alabama
4. Navy* 4. UNC Greensboro*
Berkeley, CA Baton Rouge, LA
1. (7) California^* 1. UC Santa Barbara*
2. Long Beach State 2. Louisiana State^
3. Fresno State* 3. Southeastern Louisiana*
4. Sacramento State* 4. Oral Roberts*
Tallahassee, FL Columbia, SC
1. (8) Florida State^ 1. South Carolina^
2. Kentucky 2. North Carolina State
3. Cal State Fullerton 3. Coastal Carolina*
4. Florida Gulf Coast* 4. Bryant*
*-Automatic bid; ^-Regional host
Last Four In: Stanford, West Virginia, Nebraska, Lamar First Four Out: Gonzaga, Old Dominion, Maryland, Tennessee Bids By Conference 10: SEC 8: ACC 5: Pac-12 4: Big 12 3: American, Big Ten, Big West, Conference USA 2: Southland, Sun Belt 1: A-10, A-Sun, America East, Big East, Big South, Colonial, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Mountain West, Missouri Valley, NEC, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Summit, SWAC, WAC, WCC New At-Large Bids: Nebraska, Lamar Dropping Out: Maryland, UNC Wilmington Field of 64 Thoughts

North Carolina First Baseman Aaron Sabato Joins The College Podcast

UNC first baseman Aaron Sabato joins us to talk about the Tar Heels and his preparation for the 2020 season.

• Florida State joins the national seed ranks, supplanting North Carolina as a third top-eight seed from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Seminoles are off to a 7-1 start in the ACC and sit No. 4 in the RPI on Oklahoma State remains in the running, but the Seminoles own a 12-5 record against the Top 100 and are 9-4 against the top 50, compared to OSU’s 6-7 and 2-4 marks, respectively. The Cowboys, No. 18 in the RPI, have also lost two series while FSU has yet to lose one. A series win against Louisville in Tallahassee this weekend would truly put FSU on the inside track, but even if they lose it, their remaining schedule isn’t overly daunting. They do have to go to Clemson on April 30-May 2, but their other road series are doable, and their toughest remaining opponent, Miami, has to come to Tallahassee, where the Noles are 16-3. North Carolina can’t be counted out, given its No. 5 RPI, but the Tar Heels need to reverse their momentum after losing back-to-back series to Georgia Tech and Miami to fall to 6-6 in the ACC. It also isn’t helping them that one of their supposed-to-be marquee series wins, UCLA, isn’t looking as impressive with the Bruins struggling. Road series against Virginia and North Carolina State and a home series with Louisville will be key. • A year ago, the final hosting slot came down to UC Santa Barbara against College of Charleston (and Oregon State). Halfway through 2016, the Gauchos and Cougars could well be vying for one hosting bid again—or at least, getting to be a No. 1 seed (more on that in a bit). Both teams have hosting caliber RPIs, Charleston at No. 12 and UCSB at No. 10. But UCSB’s resume is otherwise a notch ahead right now, with a 14-3 record against the top 100 and series wins against Southern California and Long Beach State, as well as a 3-0 showing at the Tony Gwynn Classic. Charleston has a quality series win against Nebraska but is just 7-5 against the top 100. The good news is they’ll actually meet on the field this weekend, as the Gauchos make the cross-country trip to Charleston, so the rest of this could well be moot. Nonetheless, the other factor moving forward is the strength of the Big West compared to the Colonial Athletic Association. After this weekend, UCSB still has two more series against top 100 teams compared to one for Charleston, and the Big West has four teams in the top 100 against the CAA’s two. More chances for UCSB to trip up, but also a better chance they can maintain their RPI even if they drop a series. The other factor at play is, like last year, where would UCSB host? Last year’s solution, Lake Elsinore, isn’t an option, as its minor-league team is home that weekend. The only relatively nearby pro park that’s free that entire weekend is Bakersfield—one of the worst parks in the minor leagues and not a desirable option for hosting a regional. That would leave the Gauchos most likely looking to partner with another school to host at its facilities, but in the meantime they’ll once again face the possibility of being a No. 1 seed that has to go on the road. • Nebraska replaces slumping Maryland as a third at-large bid from the Big Ten. The Huskers are off to a 5-1 start in the league and sport a 6-3 record against the top 50 and 10-7 against the top 100, along with a No. 58 RPI. Their remaining schedule isn’t easy, with road trips to both Michigan and Michigan State, but those series do present chances to get the marquee series win they currently lack. UNC Wilmington also drops out after losing a series at Northeastern. The Seahawks’ RPI sits at 78 and, troublingly, they’re 0-7 away from home. Getting that road record rectified will be big towards getting them back in the mix. Under the radar, Lamar is building a solid case alongside Southeastern Louisiana to make the Southland a two-bid conference, which it’s been as recently as 2014. The Cardinals sit 39th in the RPI and own a 9-3 top 50 record. They’ve done most of their damage at home, including midweek wins against LSU and Arizona, but they’re also 7-2 in the conference, a game behind 11-1 Southeastern. The second half of their schedule is heavy with road games, but most appear winnable and should help them maintain their RPI if they can take care of business. We also closely considered Gonzaga, which does have a better RPI (31), but the Zags’ 2-4 top 50 record and 3-6 top 100 record held us back. • We’re keeping UCLA and Arkansas in the field, but those two teams bear watching. The Bruins certainly have to pick up the pace, sitting at 12-14 overall and 4-5 in the Pac-12 after back-to-back series losses to Arizona and Cal. Outside of a 3-0 showing at the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic, the Bruins haven’t inspired much confidence, and their inability to win midweek games is a big reason they’re on the wrong side of .500. The good news is that outside of a season-ending trip to Oregon State, their remaining Pac-12 schedule isn’t overly onerous. Their RPI sits at 69—outside the acceptable range, and this weekend’s home series with fellow tournament contender Stanford will be vital. Arkansas’ RPI is an unsightly 130, despite its 19-9 record. The culprit? The Razorbacks’ have played 13 home games against teams outside the top 200. That’ll kill an RPI every time, even though they went 12-1 in those games. Playing in the SEC should go a long way to remedying the RPI issue—series with Ole Miss and Florida over the next two weeks will give it a major boost—but then the Razorbacks have start winning some of those series too. They’ve already been swept by South Carolina and just lost a home series to Missouri. It’s too soon to panic, but at 4-5 in the league and with an RPI where it is, the Razorbacks could sorely use a quality series win.

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