After a week virtually off, we’re back in business in our normal state. LSU may be slumping, but good news LSU fans! They juuuust barely hold on to a regional host bid according to my projections, which you can view below.
The National Seeds
Oregon State, TCU, Louisville, Clemson, Texas Tech, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina
The order is shaken up from last week, but the members remain the same. These eight teams have established themselves as the core teams in the nation and while some have dropped a series here and there, their collective bodies of work have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, spearheaded by Oregon State. The Beavers are 25-1 and just closed out a perfect month after dropping their only imperfect game of the season to Ohio State on February 24th in Surprise, AZ. In their wake lie Arizona (21-7) who responded their loss to the Beavers by sweeping USC and beating rivals and bubble seed Arizona State.
Louisville (25-3) responded well to losing their first games of the season against Cincinnati and NC State well by beating Virginia and Kentucky in the midweek, but the Cardinals are afforded no rest as they draw another tournament team in Wake Forest. Such is life in the ACC.
TCU (23-5) swept Kansas State and beat UT-Arlington to push their win streak to 9 with Murray State coming to Fort Worth for a respite from conference play. It’s highly likely that streak will grow to double digits.
Clemson (25-5) asserted their dominance of the state of Georgia by taking two of three from Georgia Tech in Atlanta and then blanked Georgia in Athens 4-0. Elsewhere in the conference, North Carolina (23-6) knocked off defending champions Coastal Carolina, swept Florida State, and picked up a solid win against East Carolina. That week is a pretty feather in your cap, even if it’s less impressive in terms of RPI.
Texas Tech (26-6) lost a series to an impressive Oklahoma (20-6) team, but still hold firm in the pack just like South Carolina (20-8), who dropped a series against a surging Auburn (23-8) team.
St. John’s, Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Michigan, Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, Kentucky
It’s...not good for the Tigers. The only thing keeping LSU (20-10) in the hosting ranks is the fact that Stanford and Cal State Fullerton fell out of the regional hosts, softening the landing for LSU while Oklahoma and Kentucky join the back eight.
Yeah, that Kentucky. Coming into conference play it was Mizzou who was on fire, but that didn’t last past the first weekend. Kentucky (21-9) started off SEC play by sweeping Texas A&M, beating Ole Miss, and then beating Vanderbilt. What they’ve done already is impressive, but they can really make some waves at the end of the month with series against LSU and South Carolina. Provided the Wildcats can get past Mississippi State and Missouri, that can be a huge boon for a hopefully recovering LSU or a national seed host-sealing win for South Carolina. Either way, Kentucky of all teams has become a huge player in the postseason discussion.
And no, those aren’t typos. St. John’s doesn’t have an impressive resume so much as up until this point they’ve taken the short leash they’ve been given thanks to their awful SOS (216, 220 non-con) and made the most of it, losing only three times all season to draw to 21-3. Same goes for Florida Gulf Coast, who is more of an eye test than they are just awarding winning. FGCU is 24-7 and is 6-3 against the RPI top 50. LSU is 7-7 against the same quality of competition. FGCU doesn’t meet regional hosting standards so their regional is shipped to Tallahassee from Dunk City.
Michigan (23-6) picks up the Big Ten’s token host seed. Whatever.
The Rest Of The Field
Despite the fact that they barely held on to their regional host ticket, LSU has a fairly favorable regional: Southern Miss, McNeese, and Jackson State. Of course one is a rental win while the others are a team that beat LSU in a midweek and a team that is eight spots higher on the RPI list than the Tigers. For once, LSU’s location works in favor of them when it comes to the postseason.
And yes, I put McNeese ahead of Southeastern in the Southland race while still keeping it a two bid league. I don’t know if the NCAA will agree but saying it isn’t is just wrong. The Lions go to the plains to be a three seed against Auburn, Virginia, and Minnesota.
The Tallahassee regional is an all-Florida affair thanks to Florida A&M being the last team into the tournament. I posted a blind resume on Twitter and most people kept the Rattlers in the tournament while leaving Texas out. While I agree, I had to put Texas in over Missouri thanks to my rule of no more than nine teams from a single conference making a tournament. I don’t even think we’ll see eight to be honest, but it was hard for me to turn away Texas A&M.
The Regional Of Death Of The Week
The Tuscon Regional: Arizona, Cal State Fullerton, Oklahoma State, San Diego.
The four seed is ranked 52nd in RPI.
That’s insane and it easily wins the weekly award. It’s actually messed up that this is a national seed regional, but location and order of selection (hosts, AQs, two, three, four) just led to this one being probably the most stacked regional I’ve ever put together.
I want this to happen so bad. Also, it sets up a potential Oklahoma State-Oklahoma Super Regional.
This is weekly here at And The Valley Shook!, so keep it locked here next week to track the movement. Until then,