Bumped. Also if guys want to learn more about how college baseball tourney selection process works out check out this must read from our colleagues at Corn Nation (a superb Big-12 blog covering the Huskers). GO BRUINS. -N
First of all, a big thanks to N for picking up the Bruin baseball coverage. It's great to see the guys get some front page mentions and that all of our smaller sports are getting some much deserved pub.
Now, college baseball is heading into its final weekend before Selection Monday and there is drama nationwide. N has summed up the Bruins' hopes for a regional perfectly. A series win in Berkeley will put the Bruins into a regional where I guarantee you no higher seed wants to see them. After last weekend's sweep over Washington St. I got a chance to speak with Cougar head coach Donnie Marbut and he wondered how the Bruins find themselves on the bubble.
"We've played two or three potential one seeds and they're as good as any of them," Marbut told me. "I've heard some rumors that teams who would be #2 seeds are talking their team down, hoping to end up as a three seed and avoid [the Bruins]."
So it seems that these Bruins are starting to look like the club we expected we'd see all season. Now while a series win this weekend will put the Bruins in a regional, if they only take one of three they would still have a chance. If they were to lose the series, I'd probably put their chances of getting in at 50/50 depending on how the rest of the bubble teams do this weekend in their respective conference tournaments. Let's take a peak at some of those bubble teams.
Dallas Baptist: Even with the Bruins possibly competing with Baptist for a regional spot, it's tough to root against the squad. The Patiors are an independant and are trying to become the first independant not named Miami to make a regional since 1992. With a 34-17 record and RPI of 32, it's a shame Baptist even finds itself on the bubble list because they deserve a spot in the regionals. The selection committee has never been kind to the small schools though so the Patriots will unfairly be sweating bullets on Monday.
Arkansas: Well if the committe isn't so kind to small schools, it's got to favor the big schools and Arkansas is the perfect example. Arkansas looks like they'll get in a regional, but they don't deserve it. Did the Hogs play a tough non-conference schedule? Yes. Did they win a lot of those non-conference games? Yes. Is their RPI in the top 35? Yes. Did they even qualify for the eight team SEC tournament? No. Enough said.
Clemson: They have a great RPI (24), but they are a mere 30-26 on the season. This will be a test of whether the committee really wants to see teams challenge themselves with a brutal schedule. Clemson had one of the nation's toughest schedules and their record shows it. The Tigers had a chance to give their regional chances a big boost with a win over Miami in their ACC tournament opener yesterday, but lost. They play NC State today and Georgia Tech Saturday and may need to win both if they want to get a regional spot.
Baylor: The Bears found themselves squarely on the bubble entering the Big XII tournament, but got a big 10-4 win over Nebraska in their tournament opener. Baylor plays Oklahoma St. Friday and Kansas St. Saturday and one win out of those two may get the job done.
Virginia: Seemed to be on the outside looking in entering the ACC tournament, but got a big win over #1 North Carolina in 10 innings to open up the tournament. That win puts them back on the bubble and it looks like their performance the rest of the ACC tournament will determine their fate.
USC: Definitely on the outside looking in right now and on the verge of missing a regional for the third consecutive season. SC needs a sweep this weekend in Pullman to get themselves into a regional with anything short leaving them out.
Other bubble teams to keep in mind: Elon, Houston, Oregon St., Washington, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, College of Charleston, Charlotte, Louisville. If you want any information on any of these teams just ask away.
That's what the bubble picture looks like as the season is in its final days. The Bruins essentially control their own fate, something that seemed impossible only two weeks ago. Hopefull UCLA can pick up a series win this weekend and wrap it up, but just in case they lose two, you know who to root against this weekend.
Regional hosts will be announced this weekend, in advance of Selection Monday. Sunday afternoon I'll have a recap of the weekend, including the Bruins prospects for Monday and a list of who's hosting.