In just six days the NCAA will announce the field of 64 for the baseball tournament and Purdue appears to be in good shape after sweeping Michigan this past weekend. For the first time all year the Boilers are projected as “in” according to several sites that do projections. They are still near the tail end of at large teams, but when your program has only been to two tournaments ever you take it.
First, let’s look at D1baseball.com, which is probably the top site out there for projections. They currently have Purdue not only in the field, but above the dreaded “Last five in”:
We have just one change to our at-large teams from last week: Purdue joins our field after sweeping Michigan to finish second in the Big Ten, squeezing out Louisiana Tech, which tumbled 12 spots to No. 59 in the RPI even after sweeping a series against Old Dominion.
They currently have Purdue as the 3 seed in the Athens regional with host Georgia, 2 seed Duke, and 4 seed Wright State. Purdue will almost certainly be a 3 seed wherever they go unless they just rip through the Big Ten tournament. Then they might be a 2 seed, but there is not a huge difference between a 2 and 3 except “home” designation in the first game.
The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi also has Purdue in the field:
Chapel Hill, N.C.
1. North Carolina* (5)
2. East Carolina
4. Wright State*
East Carolina has been a team in the running for a host spot for a good portion of the season, so that would be a tough opening game. The interesting thing about Wright State is having another relatively close team in the field. They have been the Horizon League’s best team for several seasons running.
SEC Country currently has Purdue as its first team out:
Last 5 in: Illinois, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Mississippi State, Washington
Last 5 out: Purdue, Arizona, Michigan, TCU, Iowa
What is interesting about this one is that Purdue will play Iowa or Michigan in its second Big Ten Tournament game on Thursday. We also will play Ohio State, a team currently in the field and probably a lock. If Purdue has to play its way into the field it will have plenty of opportunity to do so. It also won’t have a chance at a “bad loss” either.
According to Baseball America we are also in the field, and above their “Last Four Out”:
1. (16) Duke^
4. UNC Greensboro*
I still tend to think Purdue is in as of right now, and just one win in Omaha (especially if it comes at the hands of Ohio State) makes us a lock. The Buckeyes have been solidly in for weeks and their RPI is now technically behind ours (They are 41, we are 40). Michigan and Iowa are both bubble teams, so even if we lose tomorrow against OSU we have a chance to eliminate a bubble team in either of them.
Strangely, the best case scenario might be a Michigan win over Iowa and Ohio State if we lost to the Buckeyes tomorrow. That would likely move the Wolverines from 55 in the RPI into the top 50, and thus DOUBLE our top 50 wins on the season from 3 to 6.
Who to Watch Out for This week:
There are a few teams along the bubble that could pass us. I will go with D1Baseball’s “First five out” because it has been the most comprehensive all season. I’ll also throw in a few other teams close to the line.
Arizona - Coach Wasikowski’s former team (he was an assistant there) is at 47 in the RPI and 32-21 overall, 13-15 in the Pac-12. The Pac-12 does not have a conference tournament, so they finish the year with a three-game series at No. 90 Oregon starting Thursday.
Troy - The Trojans (38-18, 19-11 Sun Belt) are at 43 in the RPI before the Sun belt Tournament. They open that tournament against No. 125 Texas State, and it is expected to be a multi-bid league.
Louisiana Tech - I am kind of surprised they are listed this high at 59 in the RPI, but they are 38-18 overall and 21-9 in Conference USA. They are just 3-3 against top 50 teams, however. They play No. 99 Rice in their first tourney game.
Michigan - I thought we had kicked the Wolverines over the edge by sweeping them, but they are still alive and clinging to the cliff at 55 in the RPI. They are just 2-9 against the top 50 and, well, we did just sweep them. Even if we play them Thursday in a loser’s bracket game a fourth win over them in the past week has to finish them off.
Louisiana - The Ragin’ Cajuns are at 54 int he RPI, 33-23 in overall, and 18-12 in the Sun Belt. They could get locked in their own Bubble death match with Troy this week.
Illinois - They will be a team to watch in the other half of the bracket in Omaha. They are 31-18, 15-9 in the B1G and at 50 in the RPI. They also get Indiana and Minnesota, the two best Big Ten teams, as potential opponents this week. They are already 5-5 against the top 50. If both Purdue and Illinois are in, that is great. It is worth keeping an eye on them to see if they are ahead of us, however.
LSU - The Tigers are at 44 in the RPI and 33-23 overall, 15-15 SEC. The criteria for making the NCAAs this year out of the SEC is apparently “Be an SEC team” as they could get 12 of 14 teams in. All 14 teams are in the top 90 of the RPI and only Alabama and Tennessee are out of the top 50. If the Tigers lose both SEC Tournament games they could tumble out.
Miami (FL) - The Hurricanes are a bit of a longshot at 63 in the RPI, but they have won 10 in a row to finally get above .500 at 27-25 and 16-13 in the ACC. They have played a tough schedule, and two rainouts last week against Stetson (the No. 7 RPI team) and Boston College may have hurt them simply because it cost them a chance at two more wins. Miami almost certainly has to beat Notre Dame tonight and Clemson on Thursday in the ACC Tournament to have any at large chance, but they won the regular season series with each. They also get a small sentimental boost as Jim Morris, their coach for the last 25 years and 2 National Championships, is retiring. It seems insane they might miss two straight NCAA Tournaments after going to 44 in a row, but they dug one hell of a hole. Should they beat Notre Dame, Clemson, and their ACC semifinal opponent they’ll be in the mix riding a 13-game win streak into the ACC final, but they had still better win that too.
Bid Thief Leagues
The following conferences only have one or two definite at large teams, so if anyone but those schools win their league tournaments there will be one less at large bid available, thus narrowing Purdue’s margin of error.
Atlantic Sun - Stetson and Jacksonville are both top 20 RPI teams and in. Stetson is probably even a host. If anyone else in this conference wins the tournament there goes a bid.
Ohio Valley - Tennessee Tech is 46-7 and No. 21 in the RPI. They are a lock and went 27-3 in conference play, a full 7 games better than everyone else. They are in regardless, and no one else in their conference is even close.
Colonial - Northeastern has a very strong RPI of 35 for a team from Boston and should be good to go. If they stumble, however, this stands a good chance of being a two-bid league.
Big East - St. John’s is in at 36-14 and No. 33 in the RPI, but no one else in the league is above 60 in the RPI.
Missouri Valley - Missouri State and and Dallas Baptist are pretty clear at large teams in the top 40, but only Indiana State at 69 is even close as a third team. If Missouri State and Dallas Baptist are both bounced we want any third team to be the Trees, as that helps us since we played them twice and won on their field.