ELOOnline : NCAA College Baseball Conference Tournament Previews
It is Conference Tournament week across College Baseball. Two Conference Tournament going on in the sunshine state this week are the A-Sun Tournament in Deland and the Big East Tournament in Clearwater. Elsewhere UCF will be at Reckling Park in Houston, Texas for CUSA Tournament. It be the last tournament for UCF as a member of Conference USA before moving to AAC next year.
The Atlantic Sun has one of the more intriguing conference tournaments this week. Though Mercer is a slam dunk to be in the NCAA postseason, the situations with Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida remain fluid. UNF has the better shot to make the postseason at this point with an RPI of 56 to go with a 4-4 record vs. RPI Top 50, while Florida Gulf Coast has an RPI of 61 with a 3-8 mark vs. RPI Top 100. For now, it’s looking like the Atlantic Sun will be a one-bid league, Can FGCU, UNF or perhaps host Stetson shakes things up ? I preview the A-Sun Tournament with the “Voice” of the Stetson Hatters, Ryan Rouse for some of the keys to the tournament this week.
Big East : The Louisville Cardinals are the favorites coming in to Clearwater but one of the more intriguing stories this week is the fact Seton Hall is in great shape to earn an at-large bid. The Pirates finished tied with Pittsburgh for second in the Big East standings, and have a fantastic RPI of 38, along with a 1-4 record vs. RPI Top 50 teams. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Pitt and USF throughout the week. The Panthers are right on the fence in terms of the bubble, and things could go either way at this point with an RPI of 65, also with an impressive 40-15 overall record. Meanwhile, the Bulls have an RPI of 63 along with a 2-10 record vs. RPI Top 50 clubs. Depending on where you look the Bulls are either one of the last four teams in the NCAA Tournament or one of the last four teams out of the Tournament.Can the Bulls make another run to the Big East Championship game like they did last year before losing to St John’s? I break down the Bulls season and the Big East Tournament with Kirsten Karbach who covered USF sports all year long as Sports Director and play by play broadcaster for Bulls Radio.
The Conference USA postseason picture has really changed over the past couple of weeks, and that’s a good sign that crazy things could happen in Houston this week. Though Rice is a safe bet for a postseason bid and is the favorite coming into the tournament as the 1 seed and host team. But can the conference get a 2nd team into the NCAA Tournament? the league best chances for a second team into the field perhaps are the Houston Cougars who captured a series win over Southern Miss this past weekend and are now 58 in the RPI with a 35-20 overall record. If not the Cougars, perhaps someone like East Carolina could get back in the mix. The Pirates have played well down the stretch and have an RPI of 74 with a 30-24 overall record entering the week. The Pirates have a ton of work to do with a 2-11 record vs. RPI Top 50.UCF comes in as a 5 seed in the tournament and remember last year, UAB won the tournament as a 7 seed. More then likely someone other then Rice will have to win Conference Tournament to get into NCAA Tournament. I had a chance to talk to UCF Head Baseball Coach Terry Rooney on the SportstalkFlorida.com Insider Show, this past Sunday about the tournament as well as Ben Lively, and Chris Taladay season as well as why Taladay should be CUSA player of the year as well as keys to success in the tournament and more.
The ACC is looking like a for-sure bet for three national seeds with North Carolina and Virginia leading the charge, along with Florida State, which moved strongly into the top-eight mix with series wins over North Carolina State and Clemson the past couple of weeks. I’d also keep an eye on North Carolina State, which could sneak in as a fourth national seed (though it’s unlikely) should the NCAA be OK with shaking things up. From an at-large standpoint, the ACC is looking like a sure bet to get eight postseason bids. I project North Carolina, Virginia and FSU as national seeds, along with Clemson and N.C. State as NCAA Regional hosts.
The SEC has one of the more intriguing tournaments this week, and what makes this event even more interesting is the fact there’s been a play-in day added, where teams such as Auburn, Kentucky , Texas A&M and Florida desperately need wins. The Gators are limping in after losing two of three at Georgia against the last place Bulldogs and could be in trouble if they get knock out early in the tournament.
Its been a strong year for the Sun Belt, as it sits fifth overall in terms of conference RPI. Right now, South Alabama and Troy are sure bets to be in the NCAA postseason as well as Louisiana-Lafayette. The only real question right now is Florida Atlantic, which has an RPI of 34 with a 7-11 record vs. RPI Top 50 teams. It’s also worth noting the Owls finished the regular season tied for third place with ULL. The Sun Belt should get four postseason bids, but FAU needs a strong week to solidify its status.
Eric Lopez is the producer of The David Baumann Show which comes to you live Monday through Friday 6-9am from the Sports Talk 1080 Studios in Orlando.