A broad scan of the college conferences and all the teams that are in, on the bubble, and vying for an invitation to June Madness.
Don't worry, I'm not going to make an argument that it's as good as March Madness. For fans of college baseball, though, May and June allow for a degree of projection and anticipation similar to what the college basketball tournament offers us every March. With just two weeks of regular season and one week of conference tournament play to go, college baseball's postseason is right around the corner. For some teams, the year is essentially over, and for others, it's time to sleep until the May 29 regionals. For the rest, the next three weeks are of the utmost importance, and during that time, we'll do our best to narrow the field.
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A few teams are running out of options if they want to head to Omaha this year.
May sees desperation creep into college baseball; the first few weeks of the month represent the last chance for teams to build their résumés before the conference tournaments turn seasons into do-or-die weekends. This past weekend was chock full of desperation, which played out in the form of a lot of late-inning comebacks. Many teams play the role of spoiler, and, in a few instances below, you'll see schools with no chances at the NCAA tournament nevertheless achieve sweeps that deeply impact the race. For me, those aren't the more fun stories to tell--I much prefer reporting on the teams that solidified spots in the tournament. For the next few weeks, Mondays will be our chance to handicap, and unfortunately, declare many teams dead. Here are the six most interesting stories, with particular attention paid to how the results impact the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky has some of the most impressive statistics in the nation, but are the Wildcats really as good as their record indicates?
I could tell you a lot of things that would make you believe the Kentucky Wildcats should be the favorite in every series they play. They are hitting .351/.452/.579 as a team. Their team ERA is 3.16, K/BB 3.12, and K/9 8.54. They have three regulars hitting above .400, five regulars slugging above .450 and two players getting on base above a 50 percent clip. Overall, the 26-5 Wildcats have scored 298 runs and allowed 116. Yet they enter this weekend in Athens, Georgia as the underdogs.
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.
Programs and prospects are sorting out who's atop the rankings, in the standings and on draft boards, respectively.
Generally, the outcomes from this weekend were pretty standard fare for college baseball. For the most part it seemed that the best teams won the weekend series, and usually the series were split two games to one. While that doesn't always make for the most interesting copy, it does help in terms of validating that we are beginning to identify the programs correctly. While we are still two months from the NCAA Tournament, we are certainly closer than we were a month ago at being able to look at which teams might host, which teams might find themselves on the bubble, and which teams were far too overhyped. We'll try to hit on that theme in today's edition of the six most interesting facts from last weekend.
As bowl season draws to a close, Jim does some research into ballplayers from schools who got to play an extra football game.
Of course, here at BP we don't concern ourselves with the lesser sports, the things people around the world do until they come to the realization that baseball is the one and only true sporting endeavor. And yet, we are confronted with no less than 28 bowl games featuring Division I teams in a three-week period. How are we supposed to sort out all of that?
After no pitchers were picked in the top five of this year's draft, hurlers could return with a vengeance in '06. Here's a look at the cream of the upcoming college class.
"Each draft is so unique that I would have expected there to have been a year somewhere along the line where the overwhelming strength was position players," Toronto Blue Jay scouting director Jon Lalonde recently told Rich Lederer. Simply put, every year is a crapshoot, and every year we see something different.
Next year is likely to be much different. Rumors are that the 2006 draft class might include the best five collegiate pitchers of all-time. The draft class offers no clear-cut top position player, opening the door to five college pitchers going in the first seven or eight picks. While this is all purely speculative--there's lots of baseball between now and next June, starting with summer circuits like the Cape Cod League and Team USA tryouts--an introductory course on the group couldn't hurt.