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Examining the National Seed Race

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With conference tournaments taking place this weekend, where do the Frogs stand in terms of earning a national seed?

Melissa Triebwasser

On May 29, the NCAA Baseball Committee will announce their field of 64 teams, including what 8 teams have been deemed national seeds. These teams will not only host regionals, but they will also be allowed to host super regionals, meaning the only traveling they will be doing is if they’re heading to Omaha.

For TCU, this could be especially critical given their 23-4 record at home this season and 16-10 record away from home. Let’s not forget some of the memorable Lupton Magic moments we have seen recently in the postseason either, whether it was a 22 inning game, an incredible comeback in the final 3 innings of an elimination game, or a 16 inning victory to send the Frogs to Omaha.

There is something special about Lupton in the postseason and getting to play here through the regionals and super regionals could be key to the Frogs making it to Omaha for the 4th consecutive season. With less than a week to go, just how safe should TCU be feeling in the national seed race?

Kendall Rogers of d1baseball.com feels pretty good about the Frogs’ chances, writing this past weekend, “With the Gators and Tigers seemingly locked into national seeds, it seems, that means we have seven locks for national seeds: Oregon State, North Carolina, Texas Tech, Florida, TCU, Louisville and LSU.” While I am optimistic about TCU’s chances, I would argue that the only safe teams are Oregon State, North Carolina, Louisville, Texas Tech, and Florida.

With those five teams out of the question, here are the remaining teams that I believe still have a chance of being a national seed (sorted by RPI):

National Seed Bubble Teams

Team Overall Record Conference Record RPI SOS vs. RPI Top 50 vs. RPI Top 100
Team Overall Record Conference Record RPI SOS vs. RPI Top 50 vs. RPI Top 100
TCU 39-14 16-8 6 34 11-8 29-11
Kentucky 38-18 19-11 7 9 18-13 25-17
LSU 38-17 21-9 8 5 21-13 24-15
Southern Miss 44-12 25-5 9 66 9-6 19-10
Clemson 39-18 17-13 10 12 9-13 22-17
Stanford 37-14 18-9 11 36 8-6 28-13
Wake Forest 38-17 19-11 12 31 10-9 19-13
Virginia 41-13 18-12 13 62 8-8 17-10

With the five locks already in, these eight teams are competing for three spots. Clemson is still in the conversation thanks to their RPI, but with a losing record against the RPI Top 50 and conference record that is close to .500, we can eliminate them for now.

With the remaining seven teams in the conversation, I would rank them (in order of how safe they are): TCU, LSU, Kentucky, Stanford, Wake Forest, Southern Miss, Virginia.

Looking forward to this coming weekend though, these rankings could change based on results in conference tournaments, or in the case of Stanford, the final regular season series.

In the SEC Tournament, LSU is the #2 seed and Kentucky is the #3 seed. Because of this, both teams will be placed in the same pool in the double elimination portion of the tournament, meaning only one team will make it out. I believe that whichever team emerges from that pool will be a national seed whether or not they win the tournament, while the other will be sweating it out watching other teams on the bubble. Joining them in their pool are South Carolina and Missouri, who advanced by beating Vanderbilt and Texas A&M today, respectively.

Stanford closes their weekend this season by going to Washington State to play the Cougars, who are 24-26 overall and #103 in the RPI. However the Cougars are 18-7 at home, so winning there might not be easy for the Cardinal. If Stanford sweeps this weekend, I think they will surpass the SEC team that doesn’t emerge from the pool, but if they only go 2-1, it will be extremely close. Dropping this final series though would eliminate them from the conversation.

The ACC teams still in the hunt, Wake Forest and Virginia, have a tougher road ahead of them to move up and could be limited by the new ACC Tournament format. The ACC has broken up their top 12 teams into 4 groups of 3 teams. In each of those groups, each team will play the other two teams in their group and the four group winners will advance to the semifinals. This could hurt these teams because if they go 1-1 in their group and don’t get out, they can’t add to their resume with more games. This benefits teams from conferences like the SEC and Big 12 that have double elimination, so even if they lose a game, they could end up playing 4 or 5 games.

For both of these teams, I think the only path to a national seed is by winning the tournament, which is no small task with North Carolina and Louisville in the tournament as well. Wake Forest, the #3 seed, is joined by the #6 seed Miami and the #10 seed Georgia Tech in their group, while Virginia, the #4 seed, is joined by #5 seed Clemson and #9 seed Duke. Both of these groups have had games played, with Miami downing Georgia Tech 6-5 in 13 innings and Duke downing Clemson 6-3.

The biggest dark horse of the national seed conversation is Southern Miss, who have an impressive resume, but are hindered by their strength of schedule due to playing in Conference USA. That conference traditionally has some solid teams, but some mainstays like Rice have had down years this season and have hurt the perception of the conference in 2017. In order for Southern Miss to move up into a national seed, they will likely need to run through their tournament comfortably along with needing Stanford, Wake Forest, and one of the SEC teams to struggle this weekend.

That brings us to the Frogs, who I believe are currently the most secure team - but I would not consider them a lock yet. This is not like two seasons ago, where TCU was a lock despite going 0-2 in the conference tournament. That team was 43-9 overall heading into the Big 12 Tournament and had won the conference by 3.5 games. Going 0-2 in Oklahoma City this year could knock the Frogs out if some of the other bubble teams shine this weekend.

However, TCU also does not need to win the tournament this weekend to secure their spot. I believe that if TCU can pick up 2 wins in the double elimination portion, even if they don’t advance to the championship game, they should be good. To be safe though, I’d love to see the Frogs put it together this weekend and win it all for the 3rd time in 4 years.