What's at stake in ACC, SEC and Pac-12?

May, 1, 2012

The ACC, Pac-12 and SEC continue to dominate the national landscape. With around 60 percent of the at-large bids likely to come from those three conferences, let's breakdown the pecking order for Selection Monday.

Sitting atop the polls and RPI, Florida State is pretty much a slam dunk for a national seed. North Carolina leads the Coastal Division and is in the top 10 in RPI -- a safe spot for hosting consideration as well as a contender for a national seed. NC State, Virginia and Miami are all in the top 20 in the RPI and in the top half of the conference, but the Hurricanes have struggled in eight games without catcher Peter O'Brien. As such, Raleigh, N.C., and Charlottesville, Va., land regionals, while Miami travels in the opening round.

Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Maryland all have similar résumés and RPIs in the 30s. In similar situations in the past, the key has been making it to the conference tournament. At this point, Wake Forest and Maryland are on the outside looking in. Both could play their way into the conference tournament but face tough finishing stretches. The Demon Deacons travel to Miami and host Clemson, while the Terrapins travel to Florida State and host Virginia. For now, those are the two teams excluded from the field.

Four teams in the top 10 in RPI land the SEC at the top of the national stage once again. And since Kentucky, LSU, South Carolina and Florida meet in conference play, the argument will be decided on the field. Four of the six series between contenders have already happened, with Florida traveling to Kentucky this weekend and LSU finishing the season at South Carolina. In head-to-head meetings, Kentucky beat LSU and South Carolina; LSU beat Florida; and Florida beat South Carolina. The Gators' series losses to Arkansas and Ole Miss complicate the situation somewhat, since they are two games behind South Carolina in the SEC East, but for now the Gamecocks are the odd team out of the national seed hunt. If Florida loses the series in Lexington or the Gamecocks beat LSU to close the season, the roles likely reverse.

After struggling in the middle of conference play, Arkansas played its way back into hosting contention with a series win at Florida. The Razorbacks, as well as future SEC member Texas A&M, are likely battling for a hosting spot. Magnolia State rivals Mississippi State and Ole Miss are securely in the field with top 30 RPI rankings, as long as they make the SEC tournament. The SEC bubble includes the three teams likely to make it to Hoover, Ala., that are ranked in the 40s in the RPI -- Auburn, Georgia and Vanderbilt. The Commodores are currently under .500 overall and are excluded from the field. Auburn's sixth-place standing in the SEC earns it the final bid over Georgia, but the Bulldogs could turn the tables with a home series against the Tigers this weekend.

The Pac-12 is trickier for seeding purposes based on the disparity between RPI and conference standing/head-to-head results. In the past, the NCAA has placed a greater emphasis on conference standing when seeding the western teams -- just look back to last year, when conference champion UCLA was a somewhat surprising host and No. 1 seed. Additionally, UC Irvine was a national seed in 2009 with an RPI barely in the top 20 after winning the Big West. If the past is any indication, there could be more surprises this year.

Oregon sports an RPI outside the top 15 but sits atop the conference and has won head-to-head series against UCLA and Stanford, both of which are in the top 10 in RPI. That puts the Ducks on the inside track for a national seed. The conference is likely to get a second national seed from either of its RPI big boys, UCLA or Stanford. For now, Stanford's head-to-head series victory earns the Cardinal the spot over the Bruins. UCLA is a near-lock for a regional, while Arizona matches up favorably with Big West stalwart Cal State Fullerton for a fourth regional out west.

Things get more complicated once you get outside the top four in the conference, and the culprit, as usual, is the RPI. Oregon State is the only other Pac-12 team with a top 30 RPI, so the Beavers are easily in. With Arizona State ineligible for the postseason, two more bids are likely to come from the bottom half of the conference. Washington and USC have better RPI numbers, while Washington State and California languish in the 70s. California is on the outside looking in with the worst résumé and a tough finishing stretch. The other three résumés are nearly identical, though Washington State has a chance to play its way in with upcoming series against Cal and Washington. But for now, the RPI keeps the Cougars out of the field while Washington and USC grab the final two Pac-12 spots.

Tallahassee Regional
No. 1 Florida State
   Tucson Regional
   New Mexico State
   Georgia Tech
   New Mexico
Eugene Regional
No. 8 Oregon
Ole Miss
North Dakota State
   Gary Regional
   Oregon State
   Indiana State
   Wright State
Palo Alto Regional
No. 5 Stanford
Cal State Fullerton
   Raleigh Regional
   NC State
   East Carolina
   Mississippi State
   Jacksonville State
Chapel Hill Regional
No. 4 North Carolina
Coastal Carolina
Kent State
   Columbia Regional
   South Carolina
Waco Regional
No. 2 Baylor
Sam Houston State
Dallas Baptist
Stony Brook
   Houston Regional
Gainesville Regional
No. 7 Florida
Missouri State
Florida Atlantic
   Los Angeles Regional
   San Diego
   Long Beach State
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 6 LSU
Appalachian State
Southeastern Louisiana
   College Station Regional
   Texas A&M
Lexington Regional
No. 3 Kentucky
Virginia Tech
Rhode Island
   Charlotteville Regional
   College of Charleston
   Michigan State
   St. John's

Last five in: Virginia Tech, Southeastern Louisiana, Indiana State, USC, Gonzaga

First nine out: Wake Forest, Georgia, Washington State, Elon, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas State, Wichita State, Stetson

Two conferences finished regular-season action this past weekend and will determine their champions before the rush of conference tournaments in the final week of May.

Dartmouth and Cornell will play a best-of-three series this weekend in Ithaca, N.Y., to determine the Ivy League champion. The Big Red won the two regular-season meetings between the schools, including a no-hitter by Connor Kaufmann in the opener.

The Patriot League takes a week off before the conference tournament gets underway, with regular-season champion Army hosting Lafayette and runner-up Holy Cross hosting Navy in best-of-three semifinal series. The Black Knights finished conference play with an 18-2 record, with both losses coming at Holy Cross in the final weekend.

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


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