From the archives: May 2013

The regional sites have been announced, and the automatic bids have been secured. So what will the field look like when it's announced Monday at noon on ESPNU?

The last 10 days opened the door for the ACC to become the first conference to earn four national seeds. Oregon's series loss to Oregon State last week and Louisville's 0-2 showing at the Big East tournament hurt their cases. NC State's near run to the ACC title game strengthened its cause. And Kansas State and Mississippi State missed the chance to grab the brass ring when they fell short in their respective conference tournaments.

Conference tournament results also shook up the last couple of hosting spots. Arkansas saw its RPI jump 20 spots with a win over LSU in Hoover. Virginia Tech played its way into the ACC title game. On the opposite side, South Carolina and Clemson were both winless in their tournaments. In the end, Virginia Tech's hot finish and South Carolina's pedigree won out, and they'll be hosting regionals

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Mark Appel
Larry Goren/AP PhotoWe might not have seen the last of Stanford's Mark Appel after all.

The biggest impact was on the bubble, which saw five spots go away with upsets in conference tournaments. Central Arkansas (Southland), East Tennessee (Atlantic Sun), Liberty (Big South), San Diego State (Mountain West) and Towson (Colonial) all won tournaments to steal bids, as the regular-season champions in all five conferences should remain in the field.

It's also possible that Stanford stole a bid by winning its series against UCLA. The Cardinal got a big jump in RPI, and it will be hard to deny the fifth-place team from the third-ranked conference in RPI.

As the week progressed, several teams slipped off the bubble either due to their play or the loss of spots to upset winners in conference tournaments.

Some of the losses were limited to the conferences where the upsets were. It looks like North Florida, William & Mary and Western Carolina could be on the wrong side of the bubble after strong seasons after they were eliminated by upstarts.

But other conferences also felt the sting. With the upsets, the SEC is likely to lose one or two bids compared with the 10 that it might have received if other favorites had won.

With that, here is my final projection of the 2013 NCAA tournament field:

Nashville Regional
No. 1 Vanderbilt
Austin Peay
Bryant
East Tennessee
Bloomington Regional
Indiana
Oklahoma
Stanford
Valparaiso
Tallahassee Regional
No. 8 Florida State
Troy
Florida
Savannah State
Starkville Regional
Mississippi State
South Alabama
Georgia Tech
Jackson State
Charlottesville Regional
No. 5 Virginia
Mercer
Alabama
Towson
Louisville Regional
Louisville
Florida Atlantic
Oklahoma State
Bowling Green
Corvallis Regional
No. 4 Oregon State
Rice
Miami (FL)
South Dakota State
Manhattan Regional
Kansas State
Arkansas
Illinois
Wichita State
Chapel Hill Regional
No. 2 North Carolina
UNC-Wilmington
Elon
Canisius
Eugene Regional
Oregon
Cal Poly
Sam Houston State
Saint Louis
Raleigh Regional
No. 7 North Crolina State
Campbell
Seton Hall
Binghamton
Columbia Regional
South Carolina
Clemson
Coastal Carolina
Connecticut
Fullerton Regional
No. 6 Cal State Fullerton
Arizona State
New Mexico
Army
Los Angeles Regional
UCLA
San Diego
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego State
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 3 LSU
Louisiana-Lafayette
Central Arkansas
UTSA
Blacksburg Regional
Virginia Tech
Ole Miss
Liberty
Columbia


Last five in: Illinois, Coastal Carolina, UC Santa Barbara, Stanford, Seton Hall

First nine out: San Francisco, North Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn, William & Mary, Western Carolina, BYU, Pittsburgh, Arizona

Jeremy Mills is a researcher for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN.com's college baseball coverage.

Four more teams officially punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament in the past week, with Cal State Fullerton winning the Big West regular-season title and Army, Jackson State and Savannah State winning conference tournaments. They join Columbia in the field, but what about the other 59 teams?

The national seed and hosting picture is clearer than normal heading into conference tournaments. Seven teams are virtual locks to be a national seeds this year -- Vanderbilt, North Carolina, LSU, Oregon State, Virginia, Cal State Fullerton and Florida State.

The only reason I inserted the word virtual there is the Seminoles. If Florida State goes 0-4 this week (it lost Monday night to the Tar Heels), it could drop out. But that's not very likely.

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Mike Martin
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesMike Martin and Florida State will earn a national seed if they don't slip in the final week.

The real competition is for the final national seed. Oregon held the spot last week but lost this past weekend's series against fellow national seed Oregon State. That alone wasn't enough to knock the Ducks out of contention, but they have lost the season series against the top three teams in the Pac-12.

That opened the door for Louisville, which swept Pittsburgh last weekend to capture the Big East regular-season title. If the Cardinals win the Big East conference tournament, they'll get to 50 wins. That's enough to tilt the balance in their favor for the final national seed.

Also in contention for a national seed are Indiana, NC State and Clemson. The Hoosiers need to follow up their regular-season Big Ten title with the tournament crown. There have never been four national seeds from the same conference, so the Wolfpack and Tigers most likely need to win the ACC conference tournament and get that aforementioned winless week from Florida State.

The bottom of the hosting picture also became clearer in the penultimate week of the season.

SEBaseball.com's Mark Etheridge did a great job looking into the RPI versus conference rank conundrum. His research indicates that past committees have almost always favored RPI. Keep in mind that the composition of the selection committee changes annually, so past results are no guarantee of future performance.

Mississippi State already had the gaudy RPI and then won its final series against South Carolina. That was enough to help the Bulldogs garner the fourth hosting spot for the SEC. Arkansas' third-place finish probably won't be enough to overcome its RPI outside the top 40.

Starkville takes the place of Mobile as the final host, as South Alabama lost its final regular-season series against Troy to slip into a tie for the Sun Belt title. Would a conference tournament title and the novelty of a first-time hosting site be enough to swing the pendulum back? The Jaguars probably need some help at this point.

And postseason baseball should be coming to the Little Apple, as Kansas State won the Big 12 regular-season title and moved into the top 20 in RPI.

That's a lot of talk about the top of the bracket, but what about the bubble?

Honestly, there isn't a lot to talk about with this year's bubble. For the third straight season, there appears to be a dearth of quality teams outside the top 35 or so. Teams that were near locks a few weeks ago -- Florida, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh -- have all played themselves onto, or completely off, the bubble.

Some of that will resolve itself with bid-stealers from leagues with a clear favorite. The bubble will be cheering for Mercer in the Atlantic Sun, Campbell and Coastal Carolina in the Big South, UNC Wilmington in the Colonial, Rice in Conference USA, New Mexico in the Mountain West and Sam Houston State in the Southland.

But for the teams on the bubble, you have one more week to polish up that résumé before the committee makes its final decision.

Here are my projections, as of May 21:

Nashville Regional
No. 1 Vanderbilt
Virginia Tech
Austin Peay
Kent State
Raleigh Regional
NC State
Ole Miss
Campbell
Pittsburgh
Louisville Regional
No. 8 Louisville
Miami (FL)
Ohio State
Tennessee Tech
Clemson Regional
Clemson
Mercer
Florida
Maine
Charlottesville Regional
No. 5 Virginia
UNC-Wilmington
William & Mary
Rider
Bloomington Regional
Indiana
Oklahoma State
Auburn
Illinois State
Corvallis Regional
No. 4 Oregon State
Cal Poly
Seton Hall
South Dakota State
Manhattan Regional
Kansas State
Arkansas
Creighton
Saint Louis
Chapel Hill Regional
No. 2 North Carolina
Alabama
Western Carolina
Bryant
Columbia Regional
South Carolina
Georgia Tech
Coastal Carolina
Savannah State
Tallahassee Regional
No. 7 Florida State
Troy
North Florida
Columbia
Starkville Regional
Mississippi State
South Alabama
Illinois
Jackson State
Fullerton Regional
No. 6 Cal State Fullerton
Arizona State
New Mexico
Army
Los Angeles Regional
UCLA
San Diego
Florida Atlantic
CSU Bakersfield
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 3 LSU
Louisiana-Lafayette
Sam Houston State
Milwaukee
Eugene Regional
Oregon
Rice
Oklahoma
Gonzaga


Last five in: Florida, North Florida, Creighton, Ohio State, Pittsburgh

First nine out: UC Irvine, Michigan State, Houston, Kentucky, BYU, UC Santa Barbara, Florida Gulf Coast, Stanford, San Francisco

Jeremy Mills is a researcher for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN.com's college baseball coverage.

With two weeks to go until the field of 64 is chosen for the NCAA baseball tournament, it's time to crank up the bracketology machine and see where we stand.

There hasn't been much movement among the national seeds over the past month or so, but Florida State's series win over NC State on Monday night moved the Seminoles into the final national seed spot at the Wolfpack's expense. Clemson has made a late-season charge as well and could claim the spot with a series win in Tallahassee this weekend.

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Indiana
Courtesy of IU AthleticsIndiana leads the Big Ten and is in position to host an NCAA tournament regional.

Barring any major collapses over the final two weeks of the season, the other seven national seeds are secure: Vanderbilt and LSU from the SEC, North Carolina and Virginia from the ACC, Oregon State and Oregon from the Pac-12 and Cal State Fullerton from the Big West have all been near the top of the polls and RPI rankings all season.

Filling this season's role of Cinderella from the north is Indiana. The Hoosiers are 38-11 overall and in first place in the Big Ten. With an RPI in the top 20 and a brand new stadium, postseason baseball will be coming to Bloomington this season. If the Hoosiers sweep the regular season and conference tournament titles, they could sneak in as a national seed.

Indiana isn't the only team outside the traditional baseball powers that could be hosting a regional this season. Kansas State is atop the Big 12 and hovering near the top 20 in RPI, while South Alabama leads the Sun Belt (which is fifth in RPI) and joins Indiana in the top 15 in RPI. The NCAA loves to reward schools outside the traditional power base for strong seasons -- especially those that don't normally host regionals. That could be enough to push these teams past some of the usual suspects from the SEC.

Speaking of the SEC, the conference provides some interesting cases for the selection committee. Vanderbilt and LSU are secure as regional hosts, and South Carolina isn't far behind at fourth in the conference and boasting a strong RPI.

But the other candidates to host a regional have disparities among their conference standing and RPI. Arkansas has the third-best conference record but an RPI outside the top 40. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are in the top 20 in RPI but are further down in the conference standings. Odds are that whoever gets hottest among the Razorbacks, Rebels and Bulldogs down the stretch will claim a fourth hosting spot for the SEC.

Those disparities among RPI and conference standings, not to mention the human polls, could make this one of the more interesting NCAA tournament selection days in recent years. Which criteria will the committee emphasize? Let's look at two examples:

1. West Virginia: The Mountaineers are 30-22 overall and tied for second in the Big 12, which is the fourth-ranked conference in RPI. But despite having a winning record against the RPI top 100, West Virginia is barely in the RPI top 100 itself.

2. Maryland: The Terrapins are in the top 30 in RPI and have played more than half of their games against the RPI top 50. But they have limped to a 7-20 record in those games and are ninth in the ACC after losing eight of nine conference series.

Last year, the pendulum swung toward conference standing over RPI, especially for schools from non-power conferences. Given the similar composition of the selection committee this year, these projections followed that formula.

That could lead to some traditional powers being left out when the field is announced. Oklahoma is tied for second in the Big 12, so it should be able to overcome an RPI that's barely in the top 50. But Rice could miss the tournament for the first time since 1994, and even Miami isn't safe after slipping to eighth in the ACC late in the season.

But the biggest surprises could be in the Pac-12. The conference is third in RPI, but most of the heavy lifting has been done by the top four teams -- Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA and Arizona State. Stanford and defending national champion Arizona are in fifth and sixth, respectively, but both are outside the top 75 in RPI. The Wildcats are likely to be the first defending champion to miss the NCAA tournament since Oregon State in 2008 after the Beavers won back-to-back titles.

Here are my projections, as of May 14:

Nashville Regional
No. 1 Vanderbilt
Virginia Tech
Austin Peay
Columbia
   Louisville Regional
   Louisville
   Oklahoma
   Ohio State
   Kent State
Tallahassee Regional
No. 8 Florida State
Florida
Florida Atlantic
Bethune-Cookman
   Mobile Regional
   South Alabama
   Mississippi State
   Rice
   Alabama State
Charlottesville Regional
No. 5 Virginia
UNC Wilmington
William & Mary
Pittsburgh
   Bloomington Regional
   Indiana
   Ole Miss
   Notre Dame
   Milwaukee
Corvallis Regional
No. 4 Oregon State
Oklahoma State
New Mexico
South Dakota State
   Clemson Regional
   Clemson
   Mercer
   Alabama
   Maine
Chapel Hill Regional
No. 2 North Carolina
Coastal Carolina
West Virginia
Western Carolina
   Columbia Regional
    South Carolina
   Georgia Tech
   Seton Hall
   Rider
Eugene Regional
No. 7 Oregon
Cal Poly
Auburn
Gonzaga
   Raleigh Regional
   North Carolina State
   Campbell
   Troy
   Holy Cross
Fullerton Regional
No. 6 Cal State Fullerton
Arizona State
San Diego
Saint Louis
   Los Angeles Regional
   UCLA
   Miami
   UC Irvine
   Cal State Bakersfield
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 3 LSU
Louisiana-Lafayette
Sam Houston State
Bryant
   Manhattan Regional
   Kansas State
   Arkansas
   Illinois
   Creighton


Last five in: Auburn, Ohio State, William & Mary, Illinois, West Virginia

First nine out: Kentucky, Kansas, Maryland, North Florida, Michigan State, Houston, UC Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Stanford

Jeremy Mills is a researcher for ESPN and is a contributor to ESPN.com's college baseball coverage.

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