Wednesday, June 3, 2009

NCAA Super Regionals Predictions

After an exciting round of NCAA regionals, the schedule is set for the "super regional" round. This is the sweet 16 round, where the pretenders to the NCAA baseball crown are eliminated. Most of the regular regionals were rather predictable and there were only a few upsets according to seeds. There were only three non regional hosts to advance: UVA, Arkansas and Southern Miss.

Yours truly predicted 13 of the 16 regional winners (missing only Southern Mississippi, Florida and East Carolina). Lets take a look at the super regionals and get my predictions (#X are the national seeds in the tourney). For reference, here's the Baseball America (BA) rankings and RPIs by Warren Nolan.

#1 Texas d #16 TCU: #5 versus #13 in BA rankings, #2 versus #12 in RPI. Hard to see anyone stopping Texas til the CWS final.

Southern Miss v #8 Florida: Southern Miss is the biggest upset of the regionals, RPI of #41 taking out two top 20 teams in the regional. They run into Florida (#11 BA, #8 RPI) who breezed through their regional.

#5 ASU d #12 clemson: #3 vs #16 in rankings. #4 versus #9 rpi. Great regional matchup. ASU hits the ball and have one of the NCAA's most dominant pitchers in Leake. Clemson was stretched by a non-deserving OK State team and I think they lose here.

#4 UNC vs #13 ECU: BA #8 vs#18, rpi #1 vs #22. UNC and Texas were the favorites coming into this tourney, but UNC has to be concerned about their two starters pitching performances. I think they'll get into CWS but won't advance much further.

#3 LSU vs #14 Rice; BA rankings #2 versus #6, RPIs #7 versus #10. LSU looks better on paper and Rice is always a difficult team to judge because they've got so much history and are always in the mix. However, LSU looks way too tough this year; they blew through the SEC, they won every away series they had this year (most against tourney NCAA teams), and they're going to be my lower half CWS favorite.

UVA vs #13 Ole Miss: #7 versus #12 BA rankings, #6 vs #16 RPI, Uva's stats easily show why they should have not only been a regional host but should have been nationally ranked. UVa continues showing the tourney organizers they were far underranked by blowing out Ole Miss to make their first CWS.

#10 Florida State vs Arkansas: #10 versus unranked, #14 vs #13 in rpi. A very evenly balanced regional. Arkansas played the hardest schedule in the land and was ranked in the top 10 for a chunk of the season (including a week at #1) before struggling towards the end of the season. FSU is one of college baseball's greatest teams, but had almost no quality wins away from home. I think Arkansas takes this.

#2 CS Fullerton d #15 Louisville: #4 versus unranked, #3 vs #27 rpi. Fullerton had a very easy regional, as did Louisville. Louisville won the Big East but played almost no one of note; their only quality opponent was a 3-game sweep at the hands of florida. Fullerton is like a 12-time national champ and played 28 games away from home (an amazing amount when you look at other marquee teams and their travel schedules). Fullerton in a romp.

CWS predictions: Texas, Florida, ASU, UNC on the top. LSU, UVA, Arkansas and Fullerton on the bottom.

I'll be back with CWS predictions ... both the top and the bottom will be very tough if my predictions hold true.

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