Sunday NCAA Baseball Tourney Watch: D1Baseball and Baseball America have Ole Miss on Outside Looking In
OXFORD, Miss. — The waiting game became a little more uncomfortable for Ole Miss Saturday, as the conference tournaments around the country came closer to conclusion.
With some teams knocking out the expected winners and “stealing bids” from automatic qualifiers, it makes it tougher for an at-large team on the bubble, like the Rebels, to get in.
Yesterday, we told you Ole Miss needed Dallas Baptist, Gonzaga, Southern Miss and Maryland to bounce back and win their tournaments.
That did not happen, as Dallas Baptist left its conference tournament 1-2, Gonzaga lost to San Diego in extra innings, Southern Miss got beat by UTSA, and Maryland lost to Indiana.
𝐋𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐈𝐧 // 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐎𝐮𝐭
Stolen bids have dramatically changed the at-large ladder heading into Championship Sunday.
PROJECTIONS: https://t.co/9rH5nDn9LU pic.twitter.com/V60glxMB9S
— D1Baseball (@d1baseball) May 29, 2022
Here’s Kendall Rogers’ assessment of the ever-shrinking bubble:
• STOLEN BIDS: The bubble shrank by two more spots Saturday when Kennesaw State and San Diego won automatic bids, forcing Liberty and Gonzaga from the automatic qualifier pool into the at-large pool. Both Kennesaw and USD were legitimate at-large contenders anyway, but both likely would have wound up just outside the field of 64 if they hadn’t secured auto bids. Gonzaga is an ironclad lock for an at-large spot, of course, and Liberty should be just fine with a No. 33 RPI and a strong showing in both the regular season standings and conference tournament.
Another at-large spot could disappear if Rutgers fails to win the Big Ten tournament Sunday, because the Scarlet Knights are a strong bet for an at-large spot. And as noted above, Louisiana could also reduce the at-large pool by beating Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt.
• C-USA contenders Louisiana Tech and UTSA both climbed our ladder Saturday, as the Roadrunners eliminated top-seeded Southern Miss and the Bulldogs sent Old Dominion packing. Louisiana Tech now looks safe, and UTSA moves up from team No. 63 to No. 61, passing Liberty (which has a very strong case but is still team No. 62, which shows how tight the bubble is this year).
• Dallas Baptist tumbles down our ladder after getting knocked out of the MVC tourney with a 1-2 mark. DBU has a few things going for it: a No. 22 RPI ranking, a 13-9 mark against the top 50 in the RPI, which is bolstered by its strong nonconference resumé. That includes a sweep of Southern Miss, a road series win at San Diego and a home series win against Maryland — all three of whom will be in regionals, and two of whom will host. But a few things undermine those strengths: an unimpressive 12-11-1 aggregate mark in the Valley (not exactly a premier conference), and the fact that the Patriots lost more conference series (four) than they won (three). Will the nonconference body of work outweigh the lackluster conference body of work? Probably … but if the bubble shrinks some more, it could get dicey.
• Old Dominion went 1-1 against Louisiana Tech to finish with a 22-13 aggregate C-USA mark, a 41-17 overall record and a No. 42 RPI. In most years, that’s a pretty solid at-large resumé, but with this tight bubble the Monarchs find themselves right on the edge, and if the bubble shrinks more on Sunday they could be in trouble. For now, they’re our last team in.
On Saturday morning, D1 Baseball moved the Rebels to the “First Four Out” category. On Sunday, that continues.
Here’s where they’ve got the potential at-large teams:
D1Baseball LAST FOUR IN:
63. Dallas Baptist
64. Old Dominion
D1Baseball FIRST FOUR OUT:
65. Grand Canyon
66. West Virginia
68. Ole Miss
Baseball America Projections
When we awakened Saturday morning and saw the Rebels were out of the D1Baseball projections, we took comfort in the fact that Baseball America still had Ole Miss projected to be in a Regional, seeded No. 3 in the Hattiesburg Regional.
On Sunday, after all the conference tourney action, Baseball America no longer has Ole Miss listed in its tournament field of 64.
Our latest Projected Field of 64 ⬇️https://t.co/BQ5uZYOLvA
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) May 29, 2022
Here’s what Teddy Cahill writes of the bubble situation:
“Saturday was an awful day for teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Upsets in the ASUN Tournament, Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and West Coast Conference Tournament shrunk an already tight bubble. Meanwhile, Alabama and Kentucky both lost in the SEC Tournament to finish the night with RPIs around 50.
The upshot of all of that was that the bubble moved significantly in one day. There are still a few tournaments that could further shrink the bubble—a team other than Rutgers winning the Big Ten Tournament, Houston beating East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference Tournament and Wofford losing to UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference—and any further cuts to the at-large field would be particularly painful.”
Teddy Cahill of Baseball America
Drop in RPI
Ole Miss entered Saturday with an RPI of 37, up one spot from Friday. However, after all of Saturday’s action, the Rebels have now dropped three spots to No. 40.
At the end of the day, no one knows exactly what the NCAA Baseball Committee will do when it comes to at-large bids, so all we can do is wait.
The NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show will begin at 11:00 a.m. (CT) Monday, May 30. It will be televised on ESPN2.
(Feature image credit: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss)
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.