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And The Valley Projects Baseball: Week 4

LSU slides into the first national seed slot following an impressive weekend.

Well that was an interesting weekend. All of college baseball was fixed upon 2 cities, more specifically in 2 tournaments, both alike in dignity. But the impressions from both were vastly different. In Los Angeles, there was bitter disappointment from all but 1 team, and in Houston there were 2 really impressive teams.

The National Seeds

LSU, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, TCU, UCF, Oregon, USC

Since you are a good LSU fan, I assume you saw LSU in the #1 national seed and did a happy jig. While LSU is the most deserving team in the field at the moment, the Tigers didn't exactly earn the one seed so much as Vanderbilt just kind of lost it and LSU just slid up by default. They did have an impressive weekend, beating Houston and Nebraska isn't anything to scoff at. Virginia and South Carolina also benefited from Vanderbilt and UCLA dropping eggs in the Dodgertown Classic.

TCU stayed where they were last week following a 2-1 weekend in California, but were jumped by Florida, who I could not justify excluding from a national seed this week. I don't like how weak their non conference slate is but they won the games they were supposed to win. Add to the fact that Vanderbilt, Houston, and UCLA had a fall from graces and things began to look up for the Gators.

I told y'all I was high on UCF and they have a near identical record to Florida, in fact they have better losses (yes I believe in such things as "better losses". TCU should have been in the playoffs dammit) so if Florida got in I couldn't keep UCF out. But keep in mind with the strength of their conference slate, it is much easier for UCF to slide into a free fall than it is for Florida. But for some reason I have faith that the Knights are a good ballclub and come season's end will be vying for a national seed.

There are 2 teams on a barnstorming tour in the PAC-12: Oregon and USC. We knew Oregon was good, they went to Santa Barbara and took the series then swept St. John's to sit at a 13-2 record. But USC...nobody saw this weekend coming. The Trojans came into the weekend fresh off their first loss of the season against UC Santa Barbara, and then just let it rip. 7-6 over TCU. 6-5 over Vanderbilt. 8-4 over UCLA. They faced murder's row and absolutely owned it. I try not to speak in superlatives, but it's impossible to not use them when talking about this weekend. They beat the previous #1, 4, and 6 teams all in 3 days. So yeah, a tip of the cap to the Trojans.

The Hosts

Oregon State, UCLA, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Maryland, Texas A&M, Florida State

Let me level with you: the only reason I have Maryland (8-4) winning the Big Ten instead of Iowa (9-2) or Illinois (11-3) is because they thumped Arkansas 13-6. I sat there for a solid 10 minutes starting at the screen debating on who to give this last slot to. I'm torn between praising Illinois for beating Oklahoma State or tearing into Oklahoma State for losing to Illinois. This is something that will sort itself out with time though. But for now, the Terps are in by the skin of their teeth.

I'm going to be honest with y'all for a second again, I completely missed Oregon State when I was researching teams last week. Their resume is as impressive, if not more, than any other teams in the field with wins over Northwestern, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Fresno State. And the cherry on top? They can build to that resume this weekend against Arizona State, who is in their own right very much in the race for hosting privileges.

Which brings us to our little fallen angels, Vanderbilt and UCLA. I'm not a heartless monster, I don't like faulting a team for losing non conference games to big name opponents. But Vanderbilt can't go 1-2 on the weekend and expect to hold down the number 1 national seed, especially with teams as impressive as Florida and UCF chomping at the bits to get into the Top 8, and UCLA certainly can't get swept on the weekend. Later on this season when things become more clearer and we have a larger record these kinds of drops will be far less dramatic, but for now...

Sorry, I had to.

Texas Tech also had a minor fall from grace after getting swept by Cal State Fullerton, but I can't stress this enough, there is plenty of time to get back in to a national seed. I know Tech is a good ballclub, but them having a whole series against Sacremento State wiped out hurts them just a touch.

Texas A&M is the only perfect team in the tournament, with a sparkling 16-0 record. If USC didn't go on such an impressive run and there weren't already three teams in the SEC taking national seed spots, then the Aggies would definitely take a spot. Make no mistake about it, A&M is next in the queue. But as much as I hate them, I try to consider the politics in these situations.

Florida State and North Carolina are just...sort of there. Kind of like those strawberry candies your grandmother always gave to you. You've never seen anybody buy them, you've never even seen them in stores, they just kind of appear and people have them. You know what I'm talking about. That's UNC and FSU. Florida State is at 13-3, just finished a sweep of Boston College, and gets to throw hands with UCF this week before Virginia. For those of you keeping score at home, that's 5 games against projection national seeds in 6 days. So much like Florida last week, their resumes can be built a whole lot more than it can be destroyed this week.

North Carolina's resume is far less impressive, but their 10-4 record is good enough to grab a spot as a host.

The Rest Of The Field

Let's start with the Baton Rouge Regional.

Oklahoma State. Oh Cowboys. Oh honey. I'm so disappointed. This team has such a high ceiling but man are they scraping the bottom of the barrel here. They went on such a good run where they beat Washington State, Utah, and Washington after dropping the opening series to Arizona State and I believed they can play good enough baseball to warrant a host, but then they dropped a series to Illinois. No disrespect to the Illini, but they should honestly be winning those kinds of series.

We know about Southeastern and I've sung their praises. And as for Alabama A&M, I have them winning the SWAC but in all honesty I don't think they will be much of a problem.

Also of note: if you ever try to fill out a field of 64 bracket, so much about the NCAA's selection process makes sense. I see why LSU often gets stuck with the same teams in their regionals.

The Group Of Death Of The Week® is in Lubbock since there are 3 teams I can see winning with relative ease (Texas Tech, Arkansas, and Clemson) and one team I can see upsetting the apple cart (Navy). Not the most talented regional, but damn sure the most competitive. Arkansas suffers from a lack of key wins stemming from cancellations and only 1 win in the Mobile Tournament over South Alabama that was sandwiched between losses to UCF and Maryland. Clemson responded to a big series win against South Carolina by dropping a series to NC State, so for them it's 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Navy is in on merit of having the best record in the Patriot.

Houston fell from a national seed all the way to a 3 seed, and man do they need to find a ledge to grab before their free fall lasts even longer. They've lost 5 of their last 7 and in their conference they hardly have the opportunities for "big wins".

Once again, Mississippi State's Starkville Tournament Threepeat doesn't do anything for them in my book once I consider their opponents. This isn't because I hate Mississippi State. I mean, I do, but in this case I'm not buying their "Quantity over Quality" t-shirts. Mainly because it's probably made by adidas.

Arizona State got bumped out of a hosting spot, but to no real fault of their own. They got caught up in the shuffle of Oregon and USC slingshotting into national seeds along with Vanderbilt and UCLA sliding back. They're one the teams in line for the last 8, but damn is that matchup with Aggy mouthwatering.

Remember: This is still early early early in the season, but every single team should have one thing in mind.