Remaining NCAA baseball questions: Will LSU host? How much in-state company?
Louisiana baseball fans have two questions headed into the final two days of the college baseball regular season.
Has LSU done enough to warrant a host spot and a top 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament?
And how many Louisiana schools will join the Tigers and Southern in the 64-team field?
Let’s start with the first question. I think the answer is yes.
A couple of things have happened in the last 48 hours besides the Tigers winning over Auburn and Mississippi State to reach the SEC semifinals against regular-season champion Vanderbilt Saturday.
One, Texas A&M won just one game in Hoover, Alabama, while LSU is at three wins and counting.
Two, one of the teams on the NCAA host bubble, UC Santa Barbara, has had a bad weekend.
A&M’s regular season finish – winning two of three at home against Arkansas – vaulted the Aggies over the Tigers in most projections, and rightfully so. Now, it appears the results of Hoover have flipped the script again, making LSU the likely candidate to be the SEC’s fifth regional host.
It’s possible A&M could still host as the sixth team from the league, but the pecking order now appears to have LSU in front.
More importantly, perhaps, is what has unfolded in Santa Barbara over the last 48 hours. UCSB went into its final series against Cal Poly needing one win to wrap up the Big West’s regular season title.
After two losses, though, UCSB’s RPI has dropped from 14 to 21 and it has one last chance Saturday to win an outright title in the Big West, which does not have a conference tournament. While every team in the RPI top 20 has at least eight victories over RPI top 50 opponents, UCSB has not even played a game against a team in the top 50.
Meanwhile, LSU’s RPI has risen five spots this week to 16, and its win over Mississippi State was its 21st over a top 50 RPI team this season – a mark topped only by three of its conference rivals.
If LSU does host, as many as three other in-state schools could be candidates to come to Baton Rouge, depending on the results of conference tournaments this weekend.
McNeese is in the best position, sitting in the Southland Conference championship game Saturday night. Its opponent could be Southeastern Louisiana, who meets Central Arkansas Saturday afternoon to decide the Cowboys’ opponent in the title game.
The surprise of conference tournament week may well be ULM, which went into the Sun Belt tournament as the No. 10 seed but has won three straight games to reach the semifinals. It has two chances to beat host Coastal Carolina Saturday to reach Sunday’s final.
Southern won the SWAC’s automatic berth last weekend.
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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since 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;…