Sorry for running late this week, I did that that fun thing where professors assign everything for as soon as we come back from spring break. Let's unpack this week's field of 64 before first pitch.
The National Seeds
Texas A&M, Miami (FL), Florida, Florida State, Cal, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, North Carolina
For the second year in a row, the Aggies (22-3) go on the road to play in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup, only this year it's at Florida instead of LSU and the Ags are the top seed. Due in part to their impressive win over LSU and Florida's slip up against Kentucky, A&M now holds on to the number one spot in the field of 64. First pitch has yet to occur and there has already been some drama in the series, as Thursday morning Aggie Friday night starter Jace Vines was reported as being scratched from the rotation with an illness, but later that evening he was added back to it.
Miami (FL) (20-4) made this most noise this past weekend for their impressive sweep over then-hot Clemson and Seth Beer. The Hurricanes reap the reward of that but have little time to revel in their glory as they play a North Carolina (20-4) team that just lost their first series of the year to Georgia Tech.
Florida State (18-6) had a rain-out of their series against NC State after they took game one, but the Seminoles failed to extract revenge on arch rivals Florida during the midweek, dropping the game 3-2. This week FSU has Boston College, which...yeah, there will be three games of baseball played alright.
Fresh off the heels of their sweep of Oregon State to answer to their loss against USC, Cal (15-6) is back in national seed contention. The Zombie Bears could bolster their resume and kick UCLA off the wagon in one fell swoop this weekend if they play their cards right.
Speaking of SC, the Gamecocks (23-3) swept Ole Miss in Oxford but then turned around and dropped a midweek to College of Charleston as of writing, sit a game down to Vanderbilt (21-4) in their series. A series loss won't hurt the Gamecocks because, well, it's Vanderbilt. The Vandy Boys themselves swept an SEC foe in Missouri, culminating in a 17-7 beat-down in CoMo.
Ole Miss, Louisville, Clemson, Long Beach State, Michigan State, TCU, Rice, Oregon State
Ole Miss (20-5) looks to rebound against their strongly disappointing weekend by playing host to the best friends from Starkville who themselves are fighting for their tournament lives. For my money it's the best rivalry in college baseball and you can bet your tuchus I'll be keeping tabs on it.
llvlll (20-5) bounced back after dropping the first game of their series with Virginia to win it and this week take host to the other school from VA, Tech. After the hapless Hokies, the Cardinals travel to Tallahassee.
After getting ran out of Coral Gables, Clemson (19-6) draws Pitt, a team that could jump up and catch the Tigers off guard and give them their second straight series loss if they're not careful.
Long Beach State (16-8) kept on rolling as they took their series with Cal State Fullerton by identical 5-4 scores. Life in the Big West is a constant buzzsaw though, and now the Dirtbags get the privilege of playing UC Santa Barbara. There's a reason why Big West teams have success in the postseason, their conference is probably the third best in the nation behind the SEC and ACC.
Michigan State (18-4) swept Rutgers to begin B1G play and now finally experience their first real test against Oregon. The crop of the northern baseball isn't as impressive and hopeful as it has been in the past few years, but somebody has to get the token northern seed. Impress me, Michigan State or so help me I will...I'll come back to you on this. You kinda don't do anything for me as is.
TCU (19-5) suffered an inexplicable series loss against Texas. Could it be possible that Texas has finally turned the corner and is heading back to the halcyon days of the late aughts?
No, TCU just lost a head-scratcher. The Frogs will play Wichita State this weekend, which is just a poor man's Texas when it comes to baseball, similar arcs and all.
Rice (15-9) comes into the hosting discussion by virtue of me backing off of East Carolina's RPI being lower that Rice's combined with the fact that the Owls took their weekend matchup with the Pirates earlier this season. Owlie swept Old Dominion and has fixtures against Middle Tennessee State this weekend. Also, Middle Tennessee is not a state.
17-6 Oregon State will try to save face against Washington following their three game defeat at the hands of Cal. It should be noted that the Beavers hold the lowest RPI of any school in the hosting 16, a 48, which is good for admission into the tournament (in fact it's usually belonging to a bubble team) but there's a lot to prove in Corvallis.
The Rest Of The Field
LSU doesn't get penalized much for losing a series against the current #1 team in baseball in their own ballpark even if there are many well documented problematic things about this team at this time. LSU remains a two seed, albeit one of the weaker ones if I'm being completely honest. Speaking of, I see you gazing upon that potential South Carolina-Clemson Super Regional matchup. I'm on the fence if the NCAA would actually do that, but I sprung for it, so let your imagination run wild.
The Southland's status as a two bid league is still conflicting me. At this point, Southeastern is running away with it and UNO and Lamar both have very strong cases to represent the Southland as a (wrongfully) rare at-large bid for the league. However, there's no way that the SLC is a three big league, so a choice had to be made and I chose Blake Dean's offensive juggernauts.
The Regional Of Death Of The Week is the Long Beach Regional, where Arizona (17-8) and Nebraska (17-7) will kick off the play. Both schools are sitting at 21 and 26 in RPI, which is crazy to say about the 2 and 3 seeds in the same damn regional. And then you have AQ Oral Roberts (14-10) which only makes the winner of Cats-Huskers harder since Long Beach should dispose of them with relative ease.
We do this every week at And The Valley Shook, just not always at the same time. Keep checking in and watch as my projections grow and change over time, and hopefully the final field will look like what I've concocted (it won't). Until then,