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Publication Date: April 15, 2003
The Introduction No One Ever Reads
How am I doing? How am I doing? Spring has done sprung, I got a good woman at home, and I'm in a kick-the-door-out-howl-at-the-moon-Mojo-Nixon-style mood, ready to throw the smack down and take some names. FAU as a #2 seed? Please. Elon as an at large bid? I scoff. It's time. Thanks for asking.
It's early, so this doesn't mean much but fun. Don't let it distract you from the joy of the games. I'm guessing on how the regional bias will play out, but that's always an unknown.
First off, there are thirteen conferences where only the conference tournament winner will advance. Here they are, with my best wild guess at who will win:
Bear in mind that the WCC probably deserves two bids, but remember that teams below #75 in the RPI have a hard time even making it into the discussion, so Loyola Marymount is in trouble if they don't win the conference (ISR #42 currently, RPI #105) and Pepperdine probably doesn't have the RPI to get in if they don't win, even though they deserve to.
One Possible At-Large Bid
There are four conferences with teams that will qualify for at-large bids if they need to, so bubble teams should hope for them to win their conference tournament:
I'm going to guess that between these four conferences and the other conferences below where there's the potential for an outsider to win the conference tournament and use up a bid, three spots will end up being used. That seems a reasonable estimate based on past history. Add in the thirteen one-bid conferences above, the three in this section, and Miami's one independent bid, and that takes care of twenty bids, with forty-four left to spread through the other conferences.
Conf All ISR RPI Rem Georgia Tech 8-1 28-6 19 10 35-26 North Carolina State 9-3 30-8 21 13 21-22 Florida State 11-4 33-6 11 4 8-23 North Carolina 7-5 26-11 53 18 19-24 Virginia 6-5 21-12 40 14 31-16 Wake Forest 7-7 21-12 63 33 18-11 Clemson 4-5 25-9 13 3 22-35
Five teams deserve to go. Right now, the RPI says seven actually get in. Fortunately, they can't all play Duke and Maryland forever, so some of them will drop as they play each other. I'll guess five get in. Based on the remaining schedules, I'll take Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Florida State, North Carolina, and Clemson, which means that Wake Forest is a surprising stay-at-home candidate, and Virginia gets a good run to build for next year.
Conf All ISR RPI Notre Dame 7-1 25-6 55 76 Virginia Tech 8-2 22-9 108 111 West Virginia 6-2 22-11 106 52
There wasn't as much snow bias last year. Was that a one-year effect because the committee was ticked off about the travel restrictions, or was it a shift in policy? I don't know yet, which makes this hard to call. I'm going to guess that Notre Dame and West Virginia get in, although this should really be a one-bid conference.
Conf All ISR RPI Minnesota 10-0 20-11 30 40 Ohio State 8-4 19-10 73 80 Indiana 7-5 22-9 120 122 Purdue 6-6 17-14 105 94 Northwestern 5-5 12-12 101 87 Illinois 6-6 18-11 78 54
See above, with the proviso that Minnesota actually deserves to be in. I'm going to guess that Illinois pulls it together and goes with them.
Conf All ISR RPI Rem Texas 12-3 29-11 4 6 25-28 Nebraska 11-4 25-9 12 16 33-23 Texas A&M 10-5 29-11 9 20 33-20 Oklahoma State 8-4 23-11 28 25 36-34 Missouri 9-5 25-10 24 31 27-27 Baylor 8-7 25-14 6 11 24-29 Texas Tech 5-9 23-15 23 34 20-31 Kansas 4-8 28-15 38 49 31-38
Every year there's a conference like this; this year it's the Big 12's turn. You can make a case for all eight of these, and I certainly would at this point. The remaining schedules, with the exception of Texas, are going to tend to pull all eight of these close together. I'm going to guess they actually end up with seven teams, with Kansas not quite being able to make up enough ground, so it's Texas, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Baylor, and Texas Tech. I'm also looking forward to a visit from the Easter Beagle this week, so leave me my fantasies of good in the world, OK.
Conf All ISR RPI Cal State Fullerton 5-1 30-8 2 8 UC Riverside 4-2 27-9 10 53 Long Beach State 4-2 23-12 8 23
They're not far enough into the conference schedule yet to worry about who's left to play. I'm not optimistic about it, but Riverside really deserves to be in. Playing with the numbers right now and looking at the fairer treatment that the West got last year on bids, if not placement, I going to go with all three of these.
Conf All ISR RPI Rem Southern Mississippi 11-4 26-10 32 29 37-35 East Carolina 10-5 23-12 79 63 44-30 Texas Christian 10-5 23-15 34 51 36-36 South Florida 8-5 24-12 65 45 38-37 Tulane 9-6 26-11 31 27 31-43 Houston 9-6 18-18 46 36 34-39 Louisville 8-7 21-12 80 65 44-30 Alabama-Birmingham 6-8 21-13 94 70 39-35
This is an interesting bunch -- none of them are anywhere close to great, several of them are good, and they're all reasonably bunched. I'll pick four, I think, mostly on reputation; USM, TCU, Tulane, and Houston are probably reasonable based on RPI and remaining conference schedule.
Conf All ISR RPI Rem Wichita State 10-2 27-12 39 66 37-34 Southern Illinois 11-4 20-14 88 83 31-23 Southwest Missouri State 9-5 19-13 75 100 32-30 Indiana State 7-5 23-8 44 30 28-41
I'm thinking that we end up with Wichita State and Indiana State out of this one, and that they both deserve to be there.
Conf All ISR RPI Nevada-Las Vegas 12-3 28-11 18 47 New Mexico 9-6 25-15 35 48 San Diego State 9-6 16-21 74 113 Brigham Young 9-6 17-16 52 102
Remember again that teams below #75 in the RPI aren't even on the board, effectively, so BYU's out no matter how good they are. I'm hoping, though, that the committee does the right thing and takes both UNLV and New Mexico; the Mountain West has been pretty high-profile lately. I'm hoping a lot this year.
Conf All ISR RPI Rem Stanford 7-2 23-10 3 7 22-26 Arizona State 6-3 38-7 5 17 18-27 Arizona 5-4 26-12 20 37 25-23 Southern California 5-4 18-17 17 26 23-25 California 6-6 20-18 37 81 21-15 Washington 4-5 22-12 25 93 23-25
I'd like to think there's a chance that Washington will sneak in, but even I'm not that optimistic about fairness. Southern California will actually be a tough case, but they've got the Houston tough-schedule-and-just-over-.500 precedent to rely on. Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona, and Southern California get in.
Conf All ISR RPI Rem Louisiana State 11-3 24-11 14 9 43-31 Auburn 11-4 29-8 7 1 40-33 Mississippi State 10-4 25-7 22 12 35-38 Arkansas 9-6 27-7 26 21 45-29 Alabama 8-7 25-11 27 15 42-33 Mississippi 8-7 21-14 54 42 41-33 Tennessee 7-8 20-14 71 38 36-37 South Carolina 7-8 22-14 61 32 31-41 Florida 6-8 25-11 58 39 34-39 Vanderbilt 6-9 17-17 111 74 34-39 Georgia 3-12 17-18 84 41 30-41
Well, it's been fun, but the West party couldn't last forever. The East teams can't all lose forever, because, as the remaining conference records show, sooner or later they have to play each other. Conversely, the West teams can't all win forever, for the same reason. As the only West team with three Eastern opponents left on their schedule, Mississippi State may be in a good position for the stretch run. I'm guessing that once the dust settles, things end up with only six bids this year, with LSU, Auburn, MSU, Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina making it in, but virtually anything (including a Vanderbilt bid) is still possible.
Conf All ISR RPI Texas-Arlington 13-2 25-15 15 22 Lamar 11-3 25-10 33 44 Southwest Texas State 10-4 19-19 50 64 Louisiana-Monroe 8-6 19-15 97 96 Northwestern State 8-7 23-16 48 57 McNeese State 6-9 21-16 64 55 Texas-San Antonio 5-10 18-19 60 62
The Southland has been, unusually for a Southern mid-major conference, somewhat mistreated by the committee in recent years, but I'm thinking that the top two are locks at this point, and any of the other could still end up playing their way in. Texas-Arlington and Lamar count for now.
Conf All ISR RPI Florida International 6-3 28-11 72 46 South Alabama 6-3 25-10 36 28
These two go; no one else is all that close right now.
Conf All ISR RPI Rice 14-1 35-3 1 2 Nevada 9-2 19-16 45 85 Fresno State 7-5 20-17 41 58
I'm not quite out of hope, but the conference standings here are a little problematic. I'll go ahead, since they have a lot of conference play left, and say Rice and Fresno State get in.
Here's all sixty-four in one convenient spot:
Alabama FIU Missouri South Carolina Arizona Florida State Nebraska SEMO State Arizona State Fresno State UNLV Southern Arkansas Georgia Tech New Mexico USC (West) Auburn Houston North Carolina USM Baylor Illinois NCSU Stanford Bethune-Cookman Illinois-Chicago UNC-Greensboro Texas Bucknell Indiana State UNC-Wilmington Texas A&M Cal State Fullerton Kent State Notre Dame Texas Christian Central Conn. State Lamar Oklahoma State Texas Tech Cinderella #1 LeMoyne Oral Roberts Texas-Arlington Cinderella #2 Long Beach State Pepperdine Tulane Cinderella #3 Louisiana State Princeton UC Riverside Clemson Miami, Florida Rice Vermont Coastal Carolina Minnesota Richmond West Virginia Florida Atlantic Miss. State South Alabama Wichita State
Pitch Count Watch
Rather than keep returning to the subject of pitch counts and pitcher usage in general too often for my main theme, I'm just going to run a standard feature down here where I point out potential problems; feel free to stop reading above this if the subject doesn't interest you. This will just be a quick listing of questionable starts that have caught my eye -- the general threshold for listing is 120 actual pitches or 130 estimated, although short rest will also get a pitcher listed if I catch it. Don't blame me; I'm just the messenger.
|Apr 11||Nebraska||Aaron Marsden||Missouri||7.0||4||0||0||3||11||24||27||130|
|Apr 11||Oklahoma||Mark Roberts||Texas||7.0||9||7||5||4||9||30||38||144|
|Apr 11||North Carolina-Charlotte||Zach Treadway||Southern Mississippi||9.0||7||5||5||4||5||34||38||130|
|Apr 11||Western Michigan||Brad Mumma||Northern Illinois||9.0||12||7||4||3||9||39||42||152 (*)|
|Apr 11||Arizona||Richie Gardner||Washington||9.0||7||3||2||2||10||34||37||146 (*)|
|Apr 11||Mississippi State||Paul Maholm||Auburn||7.0||8||2||2||2||8||29||32||123|
|Apr 11||South Carolina||Steven Bondurant||Florida||8.1||10||4||4||2||12||32||35||155|
|Apr 11||Appalachian State||Nick Peterson||Furman||7.2||10||5||4||4||9||34||38||154 (*)|
|Apr 11||Rice||Philip Humber||Fresno State||7.2||7||5||1||4||7||31||35||133|
|Apr 12||Dayton||Corona||Richmond||6.1||7||8||4||8||1||26||35||136 (*)|
|Apr 12||Wake Forest||Kyle Sleeth||North Carolina State||7.2||9||9||7||4||8||31||39||145 (*)|
|Apr 12||Cal State Northridge||Kyle Jean||Cal State Fullerton||9.0||4||3||2||5||4||29||36||134|
|Apr 12||Old Dominion||Justin Verlander||North Carolina-Wilmington||9.0||9||2||2||1||12||36||37||151 (*)|
|Apr 12||Louisville||Zach Jackson||Cincinnati||6.2||11||5||4||3||5||29||37||124|
|Apr 12||East Carolina||Davey Penny||Memphis||9.0||7||2||2||1||13||34||37||151 (*)|
|Apr 12||St. Louis||Ben Hutton||South Florida||9.0||14||9||8||1||4||39||43||145 (*)|
|Apr 12||Virginia Military||Phil Hendrix||Coppin State||9.0||9||8||6||4||9||34||39||140 (*)|
|Apr 12||Nevada||Justin Sherman||San Jose State||9.0||12||4||4||0||9||37||38||130 (*)|
|Apr 12||Tulane||J. R. Crowel||Houston||9.0||5||2||2||4||7||29||35||130|
|Apr 13||Drexel||Nic Beecher||James Madison||9.0||9||4||1||0||16||36||36||146 (*)|
|Apr 13||St. Peter's||Doug Grant||Fairfield||9.0||12||3||3||3||6||36||40||145 (*)|
|Apr 13||Marshall||Grant Harper||Buffalo||9.1||7||3||1||3||2||35||41||145 (*)|
|Apr 13||Western Michigan||Keith Perez||Northern Illinois||9.0||10||2||2||2||6||35||37||141 (*)|
|Apr 13||Maryland-Baltimore County||Joe Wilson||Sacred Heart||7.0||5||1||1||2||9||26||30||127|
|Apr 13||San Francisco||Kevin Rose||Gonzaga||8.0||9||2||2||7||6||32||39||152 (*)|
|Apr 15||St. Bonaventure||John Brewer||Buffalo||7.0||9||5||3||5||5||30||37||146 (*)|
|Apr 15||Sam Houston State||Ryan Herrera||Rice||7.2||4||1||1||4||4||26||31||125|
|Apr 16||Gardner-Webb||Abraham Gonzalez||Western Carolina||7.0||7||5||4||3||7||26||30||127|
|Apr 16||Alabama A&M||Eric Taylor||Birmingham-Southern||8.1||7||6||6||5||0||26||35||134|
(*) Pitch count is estimated.
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