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And The Valley Projects: Week 14 - For The Last Time

It's the last week of the regular season, so let's project for a final time.

The National Seeds

Florida, Louisville, Texas A&M , Miami (FL), Texas Tech, Clemson, Mississippi State, Ole Miss

Florida (43-9) remains the big boys of college baseball, the first school to clip the vaunted 40 win mark for the season. After a hard fought series win against Vanderbilt (38-15), the Gators have nothing to lose and some more accolades to earn this weekend when they come calling to Baton Rouge for their finale series with LSU (37-16). Just behind them into the 40 club is Louisville (43-10) who got to the big four oh by sweeping the Wolfpack of the North Carolina State variety (32-17) and now get to play sneaky good Wake Forest (32-20) to close out the regular ACC season.

Behind Florida if by only a step in the SEC is Texas A&M (39-12) who possibly has the toughest three game set to close out their regular season in the conference: Vanderbilt, at South Carolina (39-13), and Ole Miss (39-14). So far the Aggies are 4-2 in that time before going into the toughest matchup in that stretch. Ole Miss is on the national seed bubble, so they need that series against the Aggies to solidify their status. Miami (FL) (39-9) is in the same boat as A&M, a good boat that just isn't as fast another one in their conference. The Hurricanes draw their regular season to a close against conference rivals Florida State (33-17).

Texas Tech (38-13) surprised the nation by assuming direct control of the Big 12 XII by usurping TCU (35-14) and Oklahoma State (32-18) and they get West Virginia (32-19) to end their campaign. To a lesser extent, Clemson (35-18) has also been a surprise, namely behind my player of the year Seth Beer and his foolish .537 OBP and 15 dinger count. The Tigers leave Auburn with a Lake this weekend to travel to storied ACC program Notre Dame (27-24).

The Mississippi schools round out our national seeds, both with one foot in the top eight and the other in the regional hosts. State (37-14-1) is coming off a sweep of Auburn and now gets a favorable draw at home against Arkansas. After their series with LSU, this is State's remaining SEC series: at Alabama (31-21), Missouri (25-27), at Auburn (23-30), Arkansas (26-26). The 44th, 117th, 130th, and 114th teams in term of RPI. Cake. Walk.

The Hosts

Virginia, Southern Miss, South Carolina, Minnesota, LSU, NC State, Vanderbilt, Florida State (teams are not in any particular order, pairings are assigned geographically).

Although LSU is stuck is the back eight, that doesn't mean that can't change this weekend. A series win over top ranked Florida and a good showing in Hoover can be enough for the streaking Tigers to steal a national seed from one of the Mississippi schools. Speaking of Mississippi, Southern Miss (36-15) has recovered excellently from their stumble against FAU (34-15), sweeping Western Kentucky (24-27) and more impressively taking a series against Louisiana Tech (34-16). Southern Miss looks to close the season strong against FIU (24-27).

The first of the ACC schools looking at the national seeds from the outside looking in are NC State who are slumping hard after losing a series to Clemson before getting swept outright by Louisville leading to their final series with North Carolina (33-19). The Seminoles are also reeling after dropping a series to Clemson as well before losing to Duke after a sweep of Bowling Green (15-35). And they draw Miami this week, so things aren't exactly trending upwards in Tally.  A team that is trending upwards in the ACC is Virginia (33-18) who followed their upset of Miami with a sweep of Pittsburgh (25-24) and a series win against Georgia Tech (34-18) and now close against Virginia Tech (19-33) in what should be a pushover affair.

South Carolina has the highest RPI of non-national seeds (seventh) but the numbers are much more favorable to the Gamecocks than the eye test. The Cocks are coming off of two straight series losses against Kentucky (30-23) and Texas A&M since their tie with Florida that was only due to rainout and that they only won game one in by a single run. SCAR's only impressive mullet on their season is their SEC opening date with Ole Miss, which they swept to their credit. Vanderbilt (38-15) has sort of followed the same arc, after their series loss against LSU the Commodores swept Kentucky before falling apart to in state rivals Tennessee (27-26). They swept Georgia (26-27) but then the SEC ripped them apart, falling to Texas A&M and Florida before catching a breather against Auburn (23-30) this weekend.

And of course, the cold north gets a regional host because that's how the NCAA likes to do things. This week Minnesota (33-16) won the random pull out of a hat because that's simpler than looking at that mess and trying to figure out who deserves it more than another.

The Rest Of The Field

LSU remains paired with Texas Tech's regional. TCU is the two seed in the Baton Rouge Regional once again due to the two Texas national seeds hosting West Coast teams and Southeastern Louisiana (36-15) stays in Baton Rouge as they remain on the two/three seed bubble. But there's a new face in the four hole, Fresno State (35-18). The Bulldogs really crept up from nowhere then sort of faded in the middle of the season, but they look to finish strong as they are currently riding a five series winning streak dating back to their loss to the best team in the Mountain West, New Mexico. That regional is impressive enough to merit Regional Of Death Of The Week status.

So this is it, the final stop for ATVP shows a dominance of the southeast in the field of 64, with only three of the top 16 teams residing north of the Mason-Dixon or west of the Mississippi, and one outside of both (and it really doesn't belong). This is only my attempt at predicting what the committee will do, I'll probably be wrong and I'm fine with that, this may sound odd but this really is a fun exercise. I'm glad I got to do this and I'm glad you took the time to read it. If there's anything you take away from this article, it's that you should always remember to