MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS WEEK:
The Red Raiders have been idle in their finals break and so have the Baylor Bears so there are no major changes in the Big 12 Conference standings. Baylor will head to Stillwater to face a hot Oklahoma State team. The Pokes swept Oregon State in Corvallis and followed that with a Bedlam win over OU, their RPI has jumped up to 11 at this point. The Red Raiders will play host to the TCU Horned Frogs who lost their midweek on Tuesday at home against an abysmal Lamar team 9-5, their RPI bottomed out at 77 as a result. So TCU won’t be doing Tech’s RPI any favors, but the potential for a sweep for the Red Raiders is real. They will need to win one more game this weekend than Baylor to take the Big 12 Championship outright. The biggest concern will be facing Nick Lodolo, the ace of the Horned Frog rotation, he’ll most likely go on Thursday.
So what does all of this mean for hosting? Well, the Red Raiders are all but guaranteed a hosting spot at this point, but in my opinion, winning the Big 12 Title will solidify their resume for a Top 8 National Seed. If you’re not familiar, the Top 16 seeds host their regional, but the Top 8 seeds are also guaranteed to host their Super-Regional if they advance. Tech has only been a Top 8 National Seed once, in 2016, their other two trips to the College World Series came as a result of winning and a little luck. They upset the Coral Gables Regional in 2014 and won the bid to host the Super Regional, and in 2018 they were the higher seeded team remaining when Duke upset the Athens Regional working from the loser’s bracket to advance to the Super. All of that to say, the better the Red Raiders can do this weekend the better off they’ll be. Hosting is by no means a guaranteed trip to Omaha, but it certainly makes the road a little bit more likely considering home crowds in the friendly confines of their own ballpark, a place the Red Raiders are 23-5 the season.
The projections for Texas Tech are all over the map right now including hosting teams like Duke, New Mexico State, Texas State, Texas A&M, and Missouri. The committee’s decision is the only one that matters and what they will look at are: wins against the Top 25 (Tech is 4-3), against the Top 50 (Tech is 15-6), against the Top 100 (Tech is 28-12), and how many low-tier games the Red Raiders have played (8, and they’re 6-2). Conference record is also important to the committee and the Red Raiders have been strong in the Big 12, their Strength of Schedule is strong and their Non-Conference Strength of schedule is as well. The committee will see that Tech has been tested and has not buffed their RPI with cupcake games, they’ve played teams from every Power 5 conference. Don’t fall into the RPI trap, it is NOT the only predictor of national seeds, the committee looks at a whole body of work so just because the Red Raiders are not #8 or above in RPI doesn’t mean they can’t be a Top 8 National Seed.
The final x-factor is the teams currently above the Red Raiders in the national seed projections, most notably Louisville, Georgia Tech, and Georgia. Louisville lost a series to Virginia most recently but beat a solid Indiana team in the midweek. They host Florida State in their season finale series, the ‘Noles are not world-beaters this season but it’s Mike Martin’s final season and they are expected to make the tournament, probably as a Regional 3 seed. By jumping up and biting Louisville FSU could help the Red Raiders immensely. Georgia Tech is facing Pitt, the worst team in the ACC, at home this weekend. I don’t expect much help from the Panthers but it’s baseball so you never know. Georgia is hosting the abysmal Alabama Roll-Tidephants. ‘Bama is tied at the bottom of the SEC with South Carolina and Kentucky, again, not a team I expect a lot of help from this weekend. So if you feel like rooting for some extra teams in the final weekend of the regular season, I suggest getting on board with the ‘Pokes of Xerox U hosting the Baylor Bears and the Fighting Mike Martins of Florida State as they face Louisville.
A few things about the rankings:
DO THEY ALL MATTER?
No, absolutely not, most of them are worthless and only exist because a baseball/statistics nerd decided to make them. Some are an attempt by various outlets to keep RPI live rather than updated weekly by the NCAA. Many are wholly subjective in the case of those from various news outlets or composites of many rankings affected by outliers. Some also update at odd times, like on Friday.
DOES THAT MEAN I WON’T INCLUDE THEM?
Also, absolutely not. I’m going to include every ranking, RPI, composite, and strength of schedule I can find. It doesn’t matter how “legit” they are, I’m going to put them on the list. I like seeing them change and move fluidly over time. It’s also nice to see that even some of the top recognized lists are subject to knee-jerk reactions.
WHY INCLUDE IT IF IT DOESN’T MATTER?
Because we count everything in baseball.