Projected Field of 64 (5/1/19)
Baseball America presents our latest Projected Field of 64, as we will weekly for the remainder of the season.
Some projection is still required when putting the field together, and this field is forward-looking, not meant to be taken as if the season ended today. As the calendar flips to May, however, teams are starting to run short on time to improve their RPI or conference record.
There are two new hosts in this week’s field: Baylor and Miami. The Bears have been trending this way for weeks and last weekend swept into first place in the Big 12. Their RPI isn’t inside the top 20 and could use a bit of work, but if they hold on to win the conference title, they’ll get some leeway on that number, as Texas did last year.
Miami, meanwhile, needs no RPI help as it ranks No. 11. That number is not to be taken lightly, but the rest of the Canes’ resume does not stand out. It is 10-11 against top-50 RPI teams and is in sixth place in the ACC. But with a manageable remaining schedule (home series against Bethune-Cookman and Duke and a series at Wake Forest), Miami has positioned itself well going into May.
The hosting race does feel like it’s starting to get better defined. The SEC West has three hosts in this projection and could still get a fourth, but the stretch run creates some difficult schedules, particularly for Mississippi and Texas A&M. They’ll both have the chance to move to the host line, but its not an easy path. Indiana remains in the mix, but will at least need a Big Ten title, either in the regular season or conference tournament. UC Santa Barbara has been a projected host the last few weeks, but its series loss at UC Riverside damaged its already fragile RPI and exhausted its margin for error. A couple of other teams (North Carolina State, Oklahoma State) could push their way there with conference tournament runs, but face narrow paths.
The SEC has 11 bids in this field, which would set the record for one conference. The selection committee last year placed a heavy emphasis on finishing with at least a .500 conference record, and it seems likely that will again be the case. That puts Florida and Tennessee in a precarious position going into May. Both are 9-12 in conference action with nine games to play. They both play each other in Gainesville and face Missouri (Tennessee at home and Florida on the road). Florida also visits Georgia, and Tennessee hosts Ole Miss. Conference tournament games count toward a team’s conference record in the committee’s eyes, meaning that a couple wins in Hoover could help push one of those teams over the line. It also may not take a .500 record, especially for Tennessee, which ranks in the top 10 in RPI. Going 14-16 in SEC play and having a solid showing in Hoover would probably be enough for either team. But anything less would likely lead to being left out on Selection Monday.
Another conference to watch is the American Athletic Conference. East Carolina is running away with the title and projects as a top-eight seed. But the rest of the league’s chances are muddled. Cincinnati and Tulane are tied for second place, but neither ranks in the top 75 in RPI, making the path to an at-large bid onerous. Connecticut has a top-30 RPI but still needs to improve its 7-8 conference record and has lost back-to-back series. Houston has a top-45 RPI but is 9-9 in league action after losing a series at last-place South Florida. The American will be a multi-bid league, but other than ECU, its members are not making the committee’s job easy.
Baseball America will continue to update the projected field weekly throughout the season.
|PROJECTED FIELD OF 64|
|Los Angeles, CA.
||Coral Gables, FL.|
|1. (1) UCLA^*||1. (16) Miami^|
|2. UC Irvine||2. Indiana*|
|3. Bryant*||3. Florida|
|4. Coppin State*||4. Florida Gulf Coast*|
|Nashville, TN.||Chapel Hill, NC.|
|1. (2) Vanderbilt^*||1. (15) North Carolina^|
|2. Illinois||2. Ole Miss|
|3. Duke||3. Connecticut|
|4. Alabama State*||4. Campbell*|
|Fayetteville, Ark.||Morgantown, WV.|
|1. (3) Arkansas^||1. (14) West Virginia^|
|2. Dallas Baptist*||2. North Carolina State|
|3. Sam Houston State*||3. Illinois State|
|4. Canisius*||4. Virginia Commonwealth*|
|Louisville, KY.||Baton Rouge, LA.|
|1. (4) Louisville^*||1. (13) Louisiana State^|
|2. Tennessee||2. Oklahoma State|
|3. Indiana State||3. Florida State|
|4. Ball State*||4. Wright State*|
|Starkville, MS.||Waco, TX.|
|1. (5) Mississippi State^||1. (12) Baylor^|
|2. Creighton||2. Texas A&M|
|3. Southern Mississippi*||3. Nebraska|
|4. Nebraska-Omaha*||4. Stony Brook*|
|Athens, GA.||Atlanta, GA.|
|1. (6) Georgia^||1. (11) Georgia Tech^|
|2. Michigan||2. Missouri|
|3. Clemson||3. Oklahoma|
|4. Jacksonville State*||4. Samford*|
|Corvallis, OR.||Lubbock, TX.|
|1. (7) Oregon State^||1. (10) Texas Tech ^*|
|2. Brigham Young*||2. Arizona State|
|3. Houston||3. Texas State*|
|4. Navy*||4. New Mexico State*|
|Greenville, N.C.||Stanford, CA.|
|1. (8) East Carolina^*||1. (9) Stanford^|
|2. Auburn||2. UC Santa Barbara*|
|3. California||3. Fresno State*|
|4. Elon*||4. Harvard*|
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