There's a new number 1 national seed after LSU dropped a series against Kentucky that it easily could have swept. It's ok, I'm here to commiserate with you.
The National Seeds
UCLA, Texas A&M, Florida State, USC, Arizona State, LSU, UCF, Illinois
UCLA (21-5) had a very impressive 5-0 week at the expense of San Diego State and Washington State and for that they take command of the newly vacated #1 national seed position. This weekend they will welcome Oregon State to Westwood, a huge series for both teams in their own right.
But Adam, not only does Texas A&M (27-2) have a better record and RPI than UCLA, they have a lower ERA (the lowest in the nation!) and higher batting average. What do you have against the Aggies, hater?
The main difference between the two is that UCLA has proven themselves more than A&M. The Aggies weren't tested until the Houston Classic, which to their credit they did sweep, but by the time they finished that weekend up the Bruins had a series win against North Carolina (at a neutral site), a sweep against Michigan State, and even though they got pushed around in the Dodgertown Classic (against all top 10 teams, mind you) they rebounded like they should have.
A&M is close to that number one spot, but their non-conference strength of schedule is what holds them back. And their conference schedule thus far is lacking severely (I knew better than to drink the Missouri Kool-Aid) until...well...
*LSU pins NEB for the 1-2-3* *sees A&M at the top of the ramp for the next match* *points to Wrestlemaina sign*— Pod KATT (@valleyshook) March 8, 2015
Florida State (22-7) won the series on a walkoff throwing error against Virginia Tech, a team it really has no business losing to, but at the end of the day a win is a win is a win. The Seminoles will get their shot to extract retribution on their arch rivals Florida and their 14-8 loss to them 2 weeks ago.
USC's (22-6) weekend was the inverse of LSU's in a way. USC dropped game 1 to Washington, a middle of the road team , but then won both games following that in extra innings to win the series. And now the Trojans have to turn around fend off Arizona, who is riding a surge and flying under the radar.
Arizona State (18-7) swept Stanford after they scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to win the game Friday night and rode that to simply bury the Cardinal.
This is where LSU's (23-5) slide stops. It's rough that LSU had to suffer so much for Jared Foster deciding to lay out and end the game instead of pulling up and allowing a hit, but baseball is a cruel, cruel mistress. In all honesty, It would have been tough to keep the Tigers in the top spot even if they were to win 2 out of 3, because goodness gracious between the Arkansas and Kentucky series the bullpen has looked rough. On the other hand, if Alex Bregman hits some of his balls 5 feet to the right or left, then LSU may have swept the series anyway. He's absolutely putting the screws to the ball but they just are not falling.
There's no time to cry though. LSU has ULL in the Wally Pontiff Classic Tuesday. Like I said, cruel, cruel mistress. The silver lining is that if we can get past ULL then we get the opportunity to take our frustrations out on Alabama in
Alex Box East The Hoover Met. Let's be honest, beating up on Alabama, regardless of the sport, would make everything better, wouldn't it?
UCF (22-7) dropped a midweek against Jacksonville and lost the Saturday game against Houston, but won the series so in my mind they broke even. When I first started these projections I said that UCF needs to nearly be perfect in conference play, especially against the likes of Houston and USF, in order to really be taken seriously as a national seed. Which to their credit, they are doing. But losing midweeks does them no favors. The Citronauts can earn some good will be beating FAU (22-6 and in the process of messing around and stealing a regional host pass) on Tuesday.
Illinois (19-6) took a series from Michigan State and beat Kent State to retain the last national seed with Vanderbilt breathing down their necks. The Illini have an interesting matchup with Missouri Tuesday before hosting Northwestern.
Vanderbilt, Florida, TCU, Virginia, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Rice, UC Santa Barbara
Illinois beat Michigan State 13-9 Monday, and were the game closer then Vanderbilt (22-6) may have slid into that last national seed spot. Vanderbilt had the kind of week you'd expect from them vs. MTSU and Tennessee, scoring 35 runs in 3 games. Well, except for the fact that they lost the Saturday game against their in state rivals 9-5, in which the Commodores went scoreless for 6 1/3. The Dores travel to Athens this weekend to test Georgia (18-11) who just snuck into the field by the skin of their teeth.
Much like Vanderbilt, Florida (23-6) is still fighting back to get back into their ranks of National Seeds after a bad weekend against Ole Miss. Unlike Vanderbilt, Florida has a rather tough schedule: Florida State Tuesday and then they travel to Missouri. I can't promise anything, but I can't see myself holding Florida down if they take 3 wins from this week.
But Florida has competition in that regard. TCU (21-4) had that coveted perfect week, but this week they travel to UTA then to Lubbock to play the Texas Tech (18-10) team that isn't where we thought they would be, but are still running well.
And the leader of the "Damage Control Club" Virginia (18-8) re-entered the regional hosts with a perfect week featuring a 10-7 win over Liberty and sweep of Notre Dame. This is coming after the Cavaliers got swept by Virginia Tech and lost a series to Florida State. Now, in order to retain that spot, they will have to (likely) knock Louisville (21-7), who is fresh off an impressive sweep of Georgia Tech, out of a regional hosting spot. No pressure or anything.
Oklahoma State (19-8) continued to make me proud by beating Wichita State and taking the series from Kansas State. Their reward is Oral Roberts and Texas, 2 tournament teams. It's a major award! Congrats guys!
The first newcomer to the hosts is UC Santa Barbara (19-7), who has been working hard for it. The Gauchos took a series from Long Beach State (dirtbags 4eva) and took advantage of Maryland dropping out after losing a series to Michigan and South Carolina losing to Coastal Carolina and then dropping a series to Georgia.
Rice (19-11) split a 2 game series with Sam Houston State (note: Sam Houston is not a state) then took a series from Southern Miss but if we're being honest them moving in had more to do with the two aforementioned exits.
The Rest Of The Field
Death, taxes, and ULL getting sent to Baton Rouge for a regional. Yay. I could have sent them elsewhere, like College Station or Fort Worth, but it just makes sense geographically. Creighton should be dispatched of pretty easily in this scenario, but don't take UAB lightly. Ask Ole Miss what happens when you do that. Spoiler alert: you lose. The winner of all of that plays host to Louisville or South Carolina, which I think it a fair draw.
I did have some fun with pairing the Tallahassee and Gainesville regionals, because honestly who doesn't want to see that? Also I think this may have been my last chance to line that up so I took it.
Because I have an
irrational hatred for Texas A&M, they're the hosts of the Regional Of Death Of The Week® with the likes of Arizona (22-6) who hold the nation's highest team batting average with a .332 (2 points higher than LSU, who sits in second) and Texas Tech who like I said earlier, isn't quite what we expected when the season began but can still hack it.
Remember, drink your Ovaltine and