Cal State Fullerton
It's safe to say the race for the eighth national seed is rather murky at this point. Louisville moved into the No. 8 spot in our latest projections (earlier this week), but the Cardinals deserve to move out of the spot after going 0-2 in the Big East tournament with setbacks against Connecticut and Rutgers. So, where does the committee go from here, assuming UL, for now, is out of the picture? That's a good question. Oregon's overall resume isn't overly impressive, but two things to keep in mind is the Ducks are 20-7 in the Pac-12, and finish league play with a series against Utah, one in which they should go 2-1 or 3-0. Meanwhile, the Ducks also have a top-10 RPI at this point, making their resume even more attractive. North Carolina State remains a hot topic and easily has a resume to be a national seed. However, it's still our thought the committee won't award the ACC four national seeds. Indiana remains in the mix, UCLA is a team to watch, and also keep an eye on Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are a few spots down the line to be a national seed at this point, but things could get interesting if they beat Vanderbilt or Texas A&M to advance to the SEC tournament title game. The Bulldogs have an RPI of 10 with a 21-14 record vs. RPI Top 50 clubs. Just a week ago, there seemed to be a lot of clarity when it comes to the national seeds. Now, the eighth spot is up in the air, and even N.C. State could move in for Florida State after the Seminoles dropped the first two games at the ACC tournament. This remains a fun race to watch with Selection Monday nearing.
North Carolina State
For the second-straight day, there's no change in this department. South Carolina is on watch right now after going 0-2 at the SEC tournament. However, we still feel confident the Gamecocks will have a host come Selection Monday. Meanwhile, continue to keep close tabs on South Alabama, and now even Virginia Tech. The Jaguars opened Sun Belt tournament play with a dominant victory, but had their Thursday contest postponed because of inclement weather. As for the Hokies, they entered the day with an RPI of 11, but should see a hefty bump resume-wise after hitting a walk-off home run to beat Florida State. Most interesting is the situation with Arkansas. The Hogs have a solid overall resume with an excellent conference record, but the RPI just hasn't been their friend this season. Well, after beating LSU on Thursday, the Hogs climbed from the mid-40s to 34, setting up an interesting situation if they can continue winning at the SEC tournament.
Helped its case
Houston: The Cougars entered the Conference USA tournament on the good side of the NCAA bubble, and only helped their case by starting the event with a 9-4 win over East Carolina. UH veteran right-handed pitcher Austin Pruitt started the contest in ugly fashion, but settled in and put together another solid start. He struck out four, walked three and allowed just four runs (three earned) on 12 hits in a complete game performance. A tip of the cap also is in store for young first baseman Justin Montemayor, who went 4-for-4 with two RBIs. UH entered the day 53 in the RPI with a 5-5 record vs. RPI Top 50.
Seton Hall: The Pirates were already in good shape entering the Big East tournament, but certainly punched their ticket to the postseason with a 7-2 win over St. John's. SHU starting pitcher Greg Terhune struck out six and allowed just two runs on three hits in a complete game performance, while Ryan Sullivan had three hits. SHU entered the day with an RPI of 41, along with a 1-5 mark vs. RPI Top 50 clubs.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish struggled at times during the Big East regular season, but certainly are making things interesting in the conference tournament with a 2-0 record after beating Pittsburgh 5-3. Irish starting pitcher Pat Connaughton struck out three and allowed three runs (none earned) in six innings of work, while relievers Nick McCarty and Dan Slania were solid. The Irish entered the day with an RPI of 42, along with an 8-7 record vs. RPI Top 50.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini are yet another team that entered the day on the good side of the bubble, but in need of a victory to solidify their status. They accomplished that goal with a 3-2 win over Michigan to improve to 34-17 overall. Illinois right-handed pitcher John Kravetz struck out seven and allowed just two runs in 7 1/3 innings of work in the win. The Illini now has an RPI of 31 with a 3-6 mark vs. RPI Top 50.
San Francisco: The Dons, along with BYU, entered the West Coast Conference tournament on the NCAA bubble. Well, the Dons were the team that captured a victory on Thursday, beating top-seeded Gonzaga 8-5 in impressive fashion. Josh Miller had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while third baseman Bob Cruikshank added a three-hit performance. USF, after the win, has an RPI of 51 with a 3-5 record vs. RPI Top 50 clubs.
Arkansas: The Hogs refuse to give up hope for an NCAA Regional host for good reason. Arkansas captured an impressive 4-1 win over LSU at the SEC tourney with junior right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek striking out four and allowing just a run on six hits in eight innings of work. From a postseason standpoint, Arkansas' RPI climbed from No. 45 to No. 34 following the victory. Furthermore, the Hogs have a very respectable 17-15 mark vs. RPI Top 50 clubs.
Kansas: Hoping to possibly be the final Big 12 team in the NCAA Field of 64, the Jayhawks started the conference tournament off in solid fashion with a 7-2 win over surprising West Virginia. KU starting pitcher Thomas Taylor struck out four, walked two and allowed two runs on four hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. From a resume standpoint, the Jayhawks have an RPI of 78 with a 3-6 mark vs. RPI Top 50. In other words, they still have a lot of work to do.
Ohio State: Though the Buckeyes entered the Big Ten tournament in good shape for an NCAA postseason appearance, a couple of losses and bad showing at the conference tournament could knock them out of the field. Well, the Buckeyes got a huge 3-2 win over Nebraska on Thursday. OSU right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg was terrific, striking out six, walking four and allowing just a run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. Ohio State has an RPI of 59 with a 9-14 mark vs. RPI Top 50.
Austin Peay: The Governors were on the good side of the bubble entering the Ohio Valley tournament, but must avoid some nasty losses. Well, the Govs put together a dominance performance in a 13-4 win over Eastern Kentucky. Shortstop Reed Harper had a big day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a run scored and two RBIs. From an RPI standpoint, APSU is 28 in the RPI with a 5-3 mark vs. RPI Top 50 clubs.
Indiana: There's plenty of work to do and plenty of help needed, but the Hoosiers do have an outside shot at earning one of the elusive eight national seeds. IU captured a nice 4-2 win over Minnesota with right-handed pitcher Aaron Slegers striking out seven with no walks, while also allowing just a run on five hits in seven innings of work. With the win, IU is 14 in the latest RPI with a 9-8 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 13-10 mark vs. RPI Top 100.
Hurt its case
Bryant: The Bulldogs entered the Northeast Conference tournament with a chance to perhaps earn an at-large bid. However, they started the event by dropping a tough 7-2 decision to LIU-Brooklyn. LIU-B right-handed pitcher Justin Topa tossed a gem in the victory, striking out six, walking one and allowing just two runs -- one earned -- on five hits in a complete game performance. Interestingly, Bryant's RPI only dropped from 51 to 55 after the setback. Bryant is 0-4 vs. RPI Top 50.
Louisville: Usually rock solid ace starting pitcher Chad Green put together one of his worst starts of the year in a 9-1 loss to Rutgers at the Big East tournament. Green allowed six runs, five earned, on nine hits in two innings of work. With the loss, the Cards will have a hard time convincing the NCAA Selection Committee they deserve a national seed after going 0-2 in the conference tournament. With that said, UL still has an RPI of 17 with an 8-4 record vs. RPI Top 50.
South Florida: The Bulls desperately need to make a strong run through the Big East tournament to have a chance at an at-large bid, and that won't happen unless they go through the losers bracket after dropping an 8-7 decision to Connecticut. USF starting pitcher Nick Gonzalez got off to a nice start in the contest, but wound up allowing six runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings of work. With the loss, the Bulls are down to 65 in the RPI with a 2-10 mark vs. RPI Top 50. Not looking good for Lelo Prado's club.
Sam Houston State: The Bearkats remain in solid shape to earn an at-large bid, but certainly are making things interesting with a 5-3 loss to Southeastern Louisiana. SHSU starting pitcher Cody Dickson allowed five runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of work, while the Bearkats were slowed just enough offensively by Lions starting pitcher Tate Scioneaux. With the loss, SHSU now has an RPI of 44 with a 3-1 mark vs. RPI Top 50 clubs.
Baylor: The Bears needed to be near flawless in the Big 12 tournament, but started the event with a tough 2-0 loss to Oklahoma despite a solid starting performance from right-handed pitcher Dillon Newman. BU ran into OU right-handed pitcher Jonathan Gray, who struck out 12, walked one and allowed just three hits in a complete game performance. Baylor's RPI is sitting at 62 with an 8-10 mark vs. RPI Top 50. In other words, things are looking rather bleak for the Bears.
BYU: Life on the bubble is always tense, and the Cougars hope to bounce back after dropping a tough 9-8 decision to San Diego at the new WCC tournament. BYU starting pitcher Desmond Poulson struggled against the Toreros, allowing six runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings of work. Fortunately for BYU, losing to the Toreros, for now, isn't a huge deal RPI wise. BYU has an RPI of 58 with a 2-5 mark vs. RPI Top 50.