With two weeks remaining in the college baseball regular season Ole Miss still have work to do in order to lock up a regional host bid. Despite impressive series wins over Louisville and LSU, sweeps of Arkansas and Auburn and an impressive non-conference win over Coastal Carolina, Mike Bianco's club still needs to solidify it's place among the host teams.
Here's how they can do that and who their top competition is.
What work is left to be done?
On the docket this weekend is Kentucky (29-20, 13-11), a SEC East team with a decent conference record, impressive series wins over top 10 teams South Carolina and Florida and a top 50 RPI. A series win would go a long way. A series sweep would go even further. D1Baseball's most recent projections have the Rebels comfortably in, but three wins over a team that has two wins over top-ranked Florida could very well lock them in.
Two wins over the Wildcats would be great, but then I think you would need to win one in College Station for the regular season finale against Texas A&M. In case you haven't kept up with college baseball in 2016, the Aggies are really damn good. And beating them at Blue Bell Park is very difficult (27-3 home record). But, slipping up and getting swept could be a kill shot.
Who else is vying for a host site?
Vanderbilt Commodores (36-13, 14-10)
One of the East division teams that the Ole Miss Rebels dodged this year is all of a sudden in some trouble. Despite their lofty RPI (No. 9) and win total, there is still some work to be done for Tim Corbin's club. The defending national runner-up lost a bad series on the road to a bad Tennessee team, got whipped by another bubble team in LSU and just recently blew their chance of proving themselves worthy on the road in College Station. They do hold a 10-9 record against the RPI top 50 and can really prove a point this weekend against No. 1 Florida.
LSU Tigers (33-16, 14-10)
The log jam at the top continues with another SEC West team in Paul Mainieri's Bayou Bengals. They did win the head-to-head matchup with those very Commodores and have an impressive out of conference strength of schedule (No. 22) thanks to Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette. But, like the Dores, they had their chances to make statements and didn't (lost series to A&M, Ole Miss and State). Good news is they can possibly add some wins this weekend against Tennessee. Bad news is they close with Florida.
Michigan Wolverines (34-12, 12-5)
As of now, the thing boosting their resume the most are the 34 wins and the 12 B1G wins. Their best wins are against No. 47 Nebraska, who they swept and they are 4-4 against top 50 RPI teams. Their only other opportunity to boost was against Minnesota (No. 35) but they lost two before the finale was cancelled. One thing they can do to fix that is to finish the year strong and try to improve an already impressive RPI of 22. Their last series is against Illinois (No. 66) but it appears that they might need to win the conference tournament to ensure their safety.
Arizona Wildcats (31-16, 14-10)
With an RPI of 25 and an 11-6 record against the top 50, the Wildcats could be set up nicely barring a collapse down the stretch. But other than their series against Arizona State, they have some little speed bumps that could cause humongous damage. Arizona finishes up the regular season against Oregon (No. 104), Abilene Christian (No. 215) and Hawaii (No. 184). Although the Cats have impressive wins over Rice (No. 28), California (No. 52) and Oregon State (No. 50), they aren't even in first place in a pathetic West Coast. It seems that Arizona is in the same boat Ole Miss is. Finish strong, in. Finish poorly, two seed.
Washington Huskies (27-16, 13-8)
Speaking of that mediocre West Coast, here come the Huskies. Despite a better record in the conference than Arizona, they don't seem to be as comfortable. If they're going to rely on their conference slate to carry them, it's probably not the best plan. But, on the contrary, they do have wins over Cal, UCLA (No. 76), Arizona State and a sweep of St. Mary's (No. 65). A rivalry series against Washington State (No. 193) and finale against first place Utah (No. 129) could be landmines as the finish line is near. But, keep in mind that the Huskies have only lost one series all season and should win the conference.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles (34-14, 18-6)
Another team in the running for a regional is quite the familiar foe. The Mustard Buzzards have dominated a pretty good Conference USA and have a legit midweek win over yours truly. Other than that, one of their biggest accomplishments on the year is a series sweep of Ed Orgeron's alma mater, the Northwestern State Demons (No. 45). They also have two wins over C-USA mainstay Rice (No. 28) and have a tremendous opportunity to finish strong with a statement series win against Louisiana Tech (No. 62).
Virginia Cavaliers (31-17, 14-10)
Another familiar postseason foe that no one cares about because they're stupid is the perennial power from the ACC and defending national champs. After a slow start, the Cavs hit the ground running in April. The 2015 champs have series victories over North Carolina (No. 10), Miami (No. 3) and Pittsburgh (No. 51). UVA takes on the Yellow Jackets from Georgia Tech this weekend (No. 19) and could use a series win to solidify their resume. But, they do have potential disasters against Richmond (No. 187) and Virginia Tech (No. 191).
If the Rebels handle the Wildcats this weekend and can get at least one win against Texas A&M, all signs point to the Rebs getting a regional at Swayze Field. But, if they falter against a Kentucky team that isn't all that great and then lose the series in College Station, they will be packing their bags and heading elsewhere as a No. 2 seed. Here's to hoping Swayze is lit this weekend and the Diamondbearz handle their business.