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April 28, 2008 12:00 am

Wait 'Til Next Year: Upsets and Drama


Bryan Smith

Narrowing the field to just a half-dozen stories proves impossible, so how about covering the outcomes in a half-dozen conferences?

This was another weekend-and its getting this way every weekend-where narrowing down the action to six stories seemed impossible. The ACC, MWC, Big East, Big 12, and Pac-10 all had series involving two of the top three teams, while the SEC and Big West had a lot of important series that might affect their standings. So, rather than determine just six stories, and since we're a month away from the tournament's release, I decided to choose six conferences to detail. Before I get into trouble, let me explain why I didn't choose a few other series that didn't make the cut. In the Midwest, Michigan and Wichita State have been utterly dominant, and both look well-positioned to win their conference and host a regional. Rice's 13-game win streak was ended on Friday against Central Florida, but the Owls bounced back to win the series, and I'm sure they will win Conference USA. The Big East saw St. John's top Notre Dame in South Bend this weekend, effectively ending that race a month early. Finally, the West Coast Conference is being left out, perhaps unfairly, but with a San Diego/Pepperdine matchup coming up this weekend, I promise to do the conference justice in my preview at the end of the week. Now, the six I chose to detail:

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Bryan handicaps who's got the best chances at making the college playoffs coming out of the best conferences.

Before the season, my initial preview of the college baseball scene was an analysis of the offensive structure of the game. I tried to show that despite the aluminum bats we weren't talking about a 30-run brand of baseball (even though Virginia defied me by dropping 27 on Coppin State in the season's first week). I really hoped to prove that it's a game where Brian Roberts' major league numbers are average, and that it's a brand of baseball where defense is inconsistent. To prove this, I used the averages of the 12 conferences that had at least one at-large bid in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. With a few exceptions, it's those 12 conferences that host the best baseball in the nation. While the midway point of the regular season isn't until next week or so, I decided to abandon our usual six-point structure just for this week to review the state of those 12 conferences. As a point of reference, last year 45 of the 64 NCAA tournament spots went to teams in these conferences.

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