The selection committee for this year's NCAA baseball tourney has a problem: the SEC is loaded, and the rest of the country, well, isn't. During a down year for the Pac-12, Big 12 and Big 10, the SEC has seven teams with regional host-worthy resumes, six of which have legit arguments to be national seeds. But no conference has ever had more than three national seeds or six regional hosts. The question, therefore, is whether the committee will reward those deserving SEC teams based solely on merit, or whether it will impose artificial conference parity under the lame-ass guise of precedence and regional diversity.
Mike Bianco, whose Rebels are one of those deserving teams at risk of being chopped out of the national seed race by a conference quota, sounded off in Hoover after Ole Miss lost in the SEC Tourney semifinals on Saturday.
The shame is if they don't pick the eight national seeds and 16 hosts based on merit, whatever the metrics are. To RPI, to record, whatever they look at for everybody, that they would look at our conference the same way. Don't start looking at how many teams we have from this league. They don't do that in basketball. They take the best teams. I don't know why this is a conversation. It shouldn't be. In some years the SEC is really good and has a lot of teams and some years it is not as good and doesn't get as many. If you look on paper, our resume is really good. If you put a label on what league instead of just looking at the numbers, people say you can't get five, can't six, can't get seven. Why is that so wrong?
As of now, six of the eight national seeds are locked in: Florida, Texas A&M and Mississippi State from the SEC; Miami and Louisville from the ACC; and Texas Tech from the Big 12. It seems like a safe bet that the committee will break precedent and hand a fourth SEC spot to either Ole Miss, LSU or South Carolina. The big question is, can the SEC land five?
The biggest challenger to that, other than NCAA precedence, is the ACC landing a third national seed. Virginia blew its shot after bombing out of the conference tourney, but Clemson and Florida State, which play for the ACC Championship on Sunday, have climbed back into contention.
The race for the fourth SEC spot
|vs. RPI top 50
I think South Carolina is out after going 0-2 in Hoover. The Gamecocks lost a head-to-head series to LSU and their SEC Tourney loss to Ole Miss will allow the committee to look past their regular-season sweep of the Rebs.
That leaves Ole Miss vs. LSU. The resumes are close enough that I personally think the Rebs' head-to-head series win should make the difference. But the committee, which loves itself a strong finish, might be swooned by the Tigers winning 14 of their last 16 games, a run that includes three wins over Florida.
Ole Miss vs. the ACC
|vs. RPI top 50
Assuming the Rebs get beat out by LSU for the fourth spot, the last hope would be to grab a fifth spot for the conference. That may be possible if Florida State beats Clemson for the ACC title on Sunday: the Seminoles have a double-digit RPI ranking and would have five fewer overall wins than Ole Miss. Even then, winning the country's No. 1 RPI conference might be enough for the committee to justify its decision.
If Clemson wins, it seems like a lock for the eighth spot. They have a better RPI top 50 record the Rebs and would offset a so-so ACC record by winning the conference tourney. D1 currently has them in over Ole Miss.