Louisiana teams go into conference tournaments with hopes of playing into next week

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LSU baseball
(Photo: Jonathan Mailhes)

Tuesday marks the start of a six-day sprint to the finish of the Division I college baseball season – conference tournament week.

The action got underway early this morning at several sites, including the American Athletic Conference tournament in Clearwater, Florida, and the SEC tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Championship games are Saturday or Sunday at just about every event.

When we get to Selection Monday on Memorial Day, how many teams from Louisiana will still be standing? We know one for sure, but the number could grow to as many as six if things break right this week.

Let’s break it down.

LSU (42-13, RPI 3): The Tigers are a regional host and almost certainly a top 8 national seed, ensuring the Road to Omaha goes through Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. This week in Hoover, Jay Johnson probably wants a continuation of what he saw last weekend at Georgia without emptying the tank too much in the process.

Could we see other teams from in-state joining the Tigers at the Box next weekend? It will almost certainly take a tournament title this week for anyone else to punch a regional ticket.

Louisiana (36-20, RPI 67): The Ragin’ Cajuns are the No. 4 seed in the Sun Belt Championship at Montgomery, Alabama. When rain reduced last year’s event to a single-elimination event, Matt Deggs’ club took advantage, going 3-0 to claim the league’s automatic bid. While D1Baseball had the Cajuns as one of the last four out just a week ago, that was before dropping two of three at Southern Miss. In reality, the Cajuns are, as of now, the fifth-best at-large candidate out of a deep league that has 10 teams in the top 100 of the RPI.

New Orleans (32-22, RPI 99): The Privateers have a top 100 RPI that ranks best in the Southland Conference, but they are the No. 4 seed in this week’s tournament in Lake Charles. They open tournament play Wednesday against Lamar.

Louisiana Tech (28-28, RPI 113): The Diamond Dogs are the No. 6 seed at the Conference USA tournament in Houston and get the early morning draw Wednesday at 9 a.m. against third-seeded Charlotte. Tech has pulled some late May magic in recent years and will need that again this week to play on.

Nicholls (28-22, RPI 130): The Southland regular-season champion Colonels get the winner of Tuesday night’s play-in game in the opening round of the tournament, but that could very well be the host, McNeese. If the Colonels win the tournament, they’ve been a popular choice in projections to be a No. 4 seed in Baton Rouge. (Of course, any of the other three Louisiana schools in the Southland bracket could take their place.)

McNeese (31-21, RPI 133): The Cowboys get the aforementioned home-field advantage in this week’s Southland tournament. First things first – the No. 6 seed must get out of an opening-night elimination game before getting the chance to move into the double-elimination portion of the bracket, which would start for them with Nicholls.

Northwestern State (25-25, RPI 155): The Demons are the fifth seed in the Southland tournament, and like their north Louisiana brethren at Tech, they too have a history of pulling upsets on the week before Memorial Day to land in the field of 64. Can they do it again this week?

Tulane (15-39, RPI 189): One loss will give the Green Wave the program’s first-ever 40-loss season. Last year, in the midst of uncertainty after Travis Jewett departed in the final week of the regular season, Tulane made a run to the tournament semifinals. Is a similar run possible this year? It would have to start with strong starting pitching to stay in the winner’s bracket. The Wave opens Tuesday afternoon with No. 2 seed Houston.

Grambling (26-24, RPI 262): The Tigers are the West’s No. 1 seed in this week’s SWAC Tournament in Atlanta, giving them the favorite’s role on their side of the bracket to reach the championship. Typically, it will take some offense late in the week to hoist the SWAC trophy. Despite the RPI, this could be the best chance of anyone not named LSU to reach the field of 64.

Southern (21-26, RPI 272): The Jaguars are the West No. 3 seed in the SWAC Tournament. If Southern can win its opening-round game against East No. 2 Bethune-Cookman, it faces the possibility of an all-Louisiana driver’s seat game in its bracket against Grambling. The Tigers beat the Jags four of seven games in the regular season.

(Southeastern and ULM did not qualify for their conference tournaments.)

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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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