Its been a while since the Bucks have gone into May with sights on the NCAA Tournament, without having to rely on the Big Ten's auto bid. Its May 1st and the Bucks sit with an RPI of 28. Nice.
A quick glance across the college baseball world with this weeks Regional Projections should help us know whats realistic for the Bucks, whats to worry about, what is to be excited about.
Starting off we have Aaron Fitt of Baseball America giving his hand at the Field of 64. This is BA's first projection of the season and they do a good job in explaing their reasonings.
As you can see Baseball America has Ohio State as a #2 seed hosting in the Columbus Regional. Projected seeds in the regional include #1 Texas A&M, a team we are very familiar with having traveled to the College Station Regional in 2007 and opening 2008 in College Station. The #3 being Kent State, another familiar program. The #4 and rounding the regional out is fellow Ohio school Wright State.
Baseball America's take on the Bucks and the Big Ten...
"The Big Ten is tough to figure out. We'll continue to bank on Indiana's talent carrying it through the conference tournament, particularly now that its weekend rotation is starting to come on strong. Minnesota has a strong at-large resume and should finish as a No. 2 seed. Illinois has better wins right now than Ohio State and gets to host the Buckeyes for a huge three-game series in two weeks. If the Illini win that series, they're likely to earn a bid over the Buckeyes, who will see their impressive RPI (29) drop over the final three weeks thanks to series against Northwestern and Purdue. But if Ohio State gets in, it seems like a strong bet to host, thanks to geographic variety and good facilities. Texas A&M earns the third No. 1 seed out of the loaded Big 12 conference and gets shipped to Columbus, as TCU beats out the Aggies for the third host site in the Lone Star State. But that's only if the Horned Frogs can finish strong and win the MWC regular-season and conference titles. Otherwise, their poor record against Big 12 teams will be their undoing when host sites are awarded."
Personally I would take Baseball America's projection in a heartbeat. TAMU is a team that was very hyped going into the year as national champion favorites but I felt they were a bit overratted, and the Bucks with the recent history should not be afraid of the Aggies. Also its at home, a huge advantage obviously. Kent State as a #3 seed presents a difficult task, but with the experience of already playing them and the fact their top two pitchers have been inconsistant, I'd take that in game 1. With Wright State here, it gives the regional 3 Ohio teams which would do a ton for attendence and the atmosphere.
Next is SEBaseball.com and their projection.
They have Ohio State as a #2 seed in the Austin Regional. Included in the regional is host Texas as a #1 and overall #8 seed. The 3-seed is Texas State, and Manhattan is the predicted 4-seed. This projection doesn't do much for me. Texas is a formidable opponent, much more than TAMU, and Texas State is putting together a solid season out of the Southland Conference.
The Big Ten in this projection has three teams in NCAA Regional play with Illinois as a #3 seed gaining an at-large berth and Minnesota as a #2 seed as well gaining an at-large berth. Ohio State is the projecte auto-bid recipient but they are in solid shape to receive an at-large if needed. Three teams in the top 50-RPI is huge for the Big Ten, especially if an Indiana or Michigan wins the conference's auto-bid, 4, yes 4 Big Ten teams could be playing in a regional.
Also on the Rivals network is Yahoo College Baseball and their projection.
Ohio State is the Big Ten's auto-bid receiver here as well and placed in the Oxford Regional as a #2 seed. Host Ole Miss is the #1, MTSU is the #3 seed with Eastern Illinois as the #4 seed. This is probably the "easiest" regional path for the Bucks. Ole Miss is solid but not great. They do have a hostile environment which would probably be the Bucks biggest opponent. Eastern Illinois is putting together an incredible season in the Ohio Valley. They have had a solid non-conference schedule with teams like Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Louisville, and Missouri on it. The Panthers fell to L'Ville and Mizzouri but did knock off the Hoosiers, Sooners, and Illini. Definitely not a team to sleep on.
Status quo with the Big Ten. Minny and Illinois receiving at large bid with a #2 seed and #3 seed respectively.
The last projection is courtesy Colin Weber and the guys at The College Baseball Blog.
The Bucks show their resume has left them in solid standing as they receive another #2 seed. This time in the Baton Rouge Regional with host LSU receiving the #1 seed, Missouri the #3 seed, and Jacksonville the #4 seed. This is not a regional I want any part of. LSU is a solid team top to bottom that can hit for power, run, pitch, and field. Missouri has one of the nations's pitchers in Kyle Gibson. Oh and Baton Rouge doesn't take too kindly to visitors. I'll pass.
The Big Ten continues its good showing with Minnesota, Illinois, and Ohio State all projected to be in a regional again.
Oh and surprise surprise ESPN is showing some committement to college baseball before the CWS. Wasn't expecting this but did stumble across it. Here's ESPN's take.
There is one traveling No. 1 seed this week; TCU gets the boot as the committee is unlikely to put four regionals in Texas (along with three in bordering states). That keeps Ohio State as a host as a No. 2 seed. Baylor, Coastal Carolina and TCU make way for a fourth SEC host as well as spots for the top two teams in the Big 12: Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The final slot comes down to a slugfest between Clemson, Florida State and Virginia. Florida State has the best conference standing, while Clemson had a great weekend against Georgia Tech. Virginia got only one game in against either of them due to scheduling (they miss Clemson this year) and weather (two cancellations against Florida State). For now, the bid goes to Virginia (but not with much confidence).
For those keeping track at home, the other eight hosts (in alphabetical order): Cal State Fullerton, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Virginia.
ESPN has the Bucks hosting as a #2 seed with TCU as the #1, Vandy as the #3 and Kent State as the #4. Its always great to be at home, but thats a pretty tough regional 1-4.
ESPN only has Minnesota joing the Bucks in a regional and that is as a #3 seed. Illinois isn't even in the next 10 to be considered.
The last website to chew on is Warren Nolan's Nitty Gritty report. Just shows how different teams stack up against each other, showing SOS, and various W-L breakdowns, ranked by RPI.