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And The Valley Projects: March 15th

It’s March, so let’s look at some brackets that actually matter.

How do you do?

Good? Good. I’m glad for you. Small talk over.

As you know, it is March. Many fine things happen this month, among the most notable being “March Madness”, the nickname for the 64 69 68-team NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament prior to which people try to correctly predict the outcome, which is largely a foolish activity. Because of that, it is a great American tradition.

I’m here to talk about an NCAA Men’s Tournament, but I’m not here for basketball, especially considering how the 2016-17 LSU Men’s Basketball season was cancelled after the Louisiana Flood ravaged the wood flooring of the PMAC’s basketball surface. It’s true, look it up.

No, I’m here to talk baseball. If you’re an ATVS regular then you are very familiar with this vehicle that allows me to geek out for 1,500-2,000 words and that nobody reads. If you’ve read this far please comment “bananas” below so I can know you truly are a loyal reader and need to be committed to an asylum.

Anyway, here is where we (me) look at college baseball right now and try to build the field of 64 with what we know about each team (eye test) and what the stats (RPI) say about each team. The field may not always be a “fair” set, as we (me) are trying to build a replica as what the NCAA tends to do, which as we (we) all know is not always fair. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

“[B1G Team] is not better than [SEC Team], whY ARE [B1G Team] A NATIONAL SEED AND [SEC Team] ARE NOT?????!!!!”

You’re probably right, but if the NCAA went by RPI or rankings down the line for seeding there would be five SEC teams and four ACC teams and the NCAA needs to throw other conferences a bone every now and then so their commissioners don’t get pissy over the fact that they live in a place where the weather is shit.

“This regional pairing doesn’t make sense, why don’t you pair [SEC Team] with [Nearby SEC Team]?”

Generally, the NCAA tries to do two things with regional pairings:

  1. Separate same-conference matchups within regionals and regional fields
  2. But in a way that make sense geographically

The NCAA really does not want to make LSU play Texas A&M for possibly anywhere between the 4th and 8th time this year. Yeah that’d be a good storyline but they want to get some “fresher” matchups in for the postseason. But still, as a general rule I’ll try to keep the actual regionals semi-close geographically. That’s easier done with the southeast teams as the West Coast regional hosts generally tend to be dominated by the Pac-12. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun with it, as it allows us an excuse to get pairings like TCU-Texas A&M (again), Texas A&M-Texas, Florida-Florida Florida State, Florida-Miami (FL), Clemson-South Carolina, LSU-Rice, Vanderbilt-Louisville, etc.

“Really? You put [good Southland Team] in but not [mediocre SEC Team]? What the hell is wrong with you?”

First off, the Southland is an incredible baseball conference and needs a ton of more national attention but the librall meedya always gives it to the Big West smh.

Second off, see above with the whole “fairness” thing. The NCAA has no precedent for absolutely limiting the number of teams from one conference but I’m putting a hard line at eight teams. No more than eight teams from one set will be admitted, and for there to be more than six there needs to be a solid resume for those two teams. There are only two conferences that have challenged this ruling, and I’m sure you can guess them.

And yes, it probably is way too early to be doing this. Like, way too early. But I like to have this run before SEC play begins so we can fully track progression. Call it throwing something against a wall and seeing it stick or call it establishing a baseline, at either rate it’s shooting for a target we can barely make out. At this point, this is basically a “if the season ended now” exercise that will gradually become a “here’s what’s going to happen” full-on projection.

Now that I’ve fleshed this insane exercise out, let’s look at the first field of the year:

WatsonTiger Productions, LLC

The National Seeds

Oregon State, TCU, Louisville, Florida State, Florida, Arizona, Texas Tech, LSU

Not much to really say here: as of now, all of these teams look really, really good. You run into some questions with the bottom three, but for the most part we know all of these teams are teams are solid in one way or another. TCU looked like world beaters a week ago but an 0-4 west coast swing hurt them a little. Louisville at time of writing is undefeated, and Florida and Florida State have nearly identical records after Florida took the first midweek game against their arch rivals.

I’m not trying to come across as short or withold information from you, but at this point delving too much into these are just an exercise in toying with small sample sizes. Again, this is just to draw a baseline and a starting point.

The Hosts

Cal State Fullerton, Texas A&M, Stanford, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Clemson

The usual suspects here as well, but these are teams that looked more shaky than the rest of the first eight teams or have not proven as much. It’s so early that you can swap any one of these teams with the bottom four national seeds and I’d be perfectly fine with it. Fullerton is probably the biggest bubble in this group, as they drew the regional host seed (as well as regional matchup) for their geography as much as their record.

The Rest Of The Field

This should tell you all you need to know about the first batch of projections: records held equal weight to the RPI standings. If you won a lot in your non-conference slate, you’re probably in. There is going to be a lot of room to grow here.

The Regional Of Death Of The Week

You know, gotta go with the Baton Rouge Regional here. LSU, an under the radar Louisiana Tech, and an incredibly strong three seed Southeastern Louisiana. There is some heat in Alex Box Stadium with those matchups. Sorry about it, Jackson State.

This is a weekly thing here on ATVS, but it will start running earlier in the week, so look for it on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. There’s only one rule with the projections, and it’s easy to remember: