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>> POSTSEASON BUZZ: Sizing up national seeds, hosts, at-larges
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With 14 weeks in the books, the postseason picture remains fluid from week to week, but the national seed picture is becoming clearer by the day it seems. Wake Forest remains the top national seed this week, while Florida moved up to No. 2 and Arkansas, LSU and Stanford round out the top five.
Clemson and Vanderbilt solidified their spots as top-eight seeds with series wins over North Carolina and Arkansas over the weekend, while Virginia moved from No. 9 to No. 8 following a road series sweep over Georgia Tech. West Virginia, which was the No. 7 national seed last week, dropped all the way out as a Top 16 host after getting dominated and swept on the road by Texas. Additionally, the Mountaineers tied with Texas and Oklahoma State for the Big 12 regular season title. Conventional wisdom suggests one or two teams from that trio hosts in a couple of weeks — but not all three.
In terms of new hosts in the 9-16 range, Auburn, Alabama, Boston College and Texas entered the mix, while teams that dropped out for now include West Virginia, South Carolina, Duke and Oregon State. Auburn and Alabama are sizzling hot entering the SEC tournament, and both now have RPIs in the Top 17, while Boston College helped its case over the weekend with a series win over Notre Dame. BC’s RPI remains well in range of hosting, while Texas is up to 23 in the RPI after that WVU series. The Longhorns will need to perform well in Arlington to hold on to a host site. As for the teams that dropped out, South Carolina could easily get right back in the mix with a good showing in Hoover. The RPI and other metrics are outstanding, but the poor finish to the regular season is an issue. Duke remains in the mix and Oregon State is another intriguing candidate. The Beavers pass the eyeball test and finished second in the Pac-12 standings. However, their RPI is sitting at 30, and a couple of wins down in Scottsdale later this week will be needed to get a host spot.
The SEC has the most projected bids with 10. The ACC is next with 9, followed by the Big 12 with seven of nine teams making the field. The Pac-12 is next up with six bids, while the Sun Belt and Big Ten each have three teams in the field, with the Big West having two in UCSB and UC Irvine. Cal State Fullerton dropped out of this projection. The Colonial is the only other league with multiple bids, and that’s with two in Northeastern and UNC Wilmington (the projected auto bid winner).
We will have an updated field each day this week starting Wednesday morning.
Mark Etheridge, Kendall Rogers and Aaron Fitt assembled the postseason projections. You can listen to their deliberations on this week’s NerdCast.
Last four in, first four out, from strongest to weakest:
61. Arizona State
62. Notre Dame
64. NC State
65. Texas State
68. Cal State Fullerton