Math might work in the Arkansas baseball team’s favor. A consensus top 13 team and with an RPI of 14, the Razorbacks have the standing and resume to be an NCAA Regional host.
A win or two at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., would make things more certain.
For the penultimate time this year, SEC Country will try to predict — using a formula and logic — where the Razorbacks end up in the NCAA Tournament. And not just where, but what teams they’ll be playing.
Last week saw the inaugural projection of Arkansas as a host team at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. D1Baseball.com replicated the Regional field on its projection, with the only difference the No. 4-seed.
Did anything change over the past week? Let’s take a look.
A refresher/reminder: This might not be how Selection Monday shakes out. Arkansas has games to play. Things can and will change. National seeds and hosts are slotted by taking a composite of four national rankings: Baseball America, USA Today/Coaches, D1Baseball.com and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Ties were broken by RPI.
2017 NCAA Baseball Tournament national seeds
- Oregon State (1)
- North Carolina (3)
- Texas Tech (4)
- Florida (5)
- Louisville (2)
- Texas Christian (6)
- LSU (8)
- Kentucky (7)
Other 2017 NCAA Baseball Regional hosts
- Long Beach State
- Southern Miss
- Wake Forest
Breaking it down
If you don’t believe things can change in a week, just look at this week’s final eight versus the week before. Gone are Mississippi State, Michigan and Cal-State Fullerton. A rough week for Clemson, Arizona, Wake Forest, or yes, even Arkansas, could be enough for any team booted this week to hop back in come Monday.
Of those four teams, Arkansas seems the most likely to be safe. The Razorbacks ended the season by winning their last two series against guaranteed NCAA Tournament teams — Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
Arkansas is likely to see Mississippi State again this week. Considering the Bulldogs are chasing a Regional host berth, an upset of Arkansas would have impact with the selection committee.
First, Mississippi State must beat Georgia in its opening SEC Tournament game.
So Arkansas is in and at Baum Stadium. Who else is there?
Potential No. 2-seed
Most of the teams included last week remain in the picture.
Missouri State and Oklahoma are most likely to make a trip to Fayetteville. Missouri State is in Springfield, a two-hour drive (if that) away. Norman, Okla., is four hours by bus.
Either opponent would be fine with the Diamond Hogs faithful. Missouri State has been a strong rival for three years now. The Bears’ 2015 Super Regional appearance in Fayetteville was a hallmark event for Arkansas baseball. And Oklahoma is seen as the ornery neighbor to the west. To many who live or grew up on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border, it was one team or the other.
The catch is what the committee wants to do. It is not prone to repeating recent postseason opponents, which would be a mark against Missouri State heading to Baum. But considering the animus that exists, the Bears might be a worthy choice. And when you consider the potential No. 3-seed in a Fayetteville Regional, you almost have to give the nod to the Bears over the Sooners.
The Nos. 3- and 4-seeds
Texas at Baum Stadium makes too much sense. The Longhorns can’t play at TCU or Texas Tech because all three schools are in the Big 12. They also can’t play wherever Oklahoma does.
The committee, more than anything, tends to group teams geographically. Austin isn’t close to Fayetteville, but it’s a shorter trip than to any destination other than LSU and Southern Miss. And those regions have more available teams closer to their locales.
Texas at Arkansas brings back classic rivalry memories and is a sure sale to Razorbacks fans.
As for the No. 4-seed, it’s six of one, half-dozen of the other. Geography is relevant if the committee can manage it. No. 4-seeds are the most likely to travel. Accordingly, they’re the hardest to gauge.
Oral Roberts is the closest possible team. D1Baseball had Bryant headed to Fayetteville. However, Bryant played at Baum Stadium earlier this season.
- Missouri State
- Oral Roberts
Let’s see how this week plays out and we’ll return Monday morning with final projections before the NCAA makes its decision.