After 49 games, Georgia Tech remains in the NCAA Tournament picture, but the Yellow Jackets aren’t exactly positioned in the center of the image.
Tech has seven regular-season games to play and then the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C. The Jackets are 27-22 and No. 48 in RPI, according to warrennolan.com.
“We need to win the next two series in the league,” coach Danny Hall said following the Jackets’ 3-1 loss to No. 15 Georgia on Tuesday night at SunTrust Park. “That’s the bottom line. We do that, and we’ll be in position. If we don’t do that, then we’d have to play really well in the ACC Tournament.”
Tech finishes the regular season with a road series at Virginia this weekend, followed by a game Tuesday against Southeast Missouri State before concluding with a series with Duke. Complicating matters is that the Virginia series will be played on Friday, Saturday and Monday, with the last game moved to accommodate television. The Duke series will be a Thursday-Friday-Saturday set.
Virginia is not its typically strong self, at 25-20 and 9-15 in the ACC. Duke appears headed for only its second NCAA berth since 1961, with a record of 35-11 and an RPI of 20.
Winning two of three from both and beating Southeast Missouri State would put Tech at 32-24 with a league record of 15-15.
However, Boyd Nation, who runs the baseball RPI website boydsworld.com, said that even such a finish “would leave them pretty nervous.”
There is some precedent for ACC teams getting in with similar records to the Jackets, should they finish 32-24 and 15-15 in the regular season. In 2016, Boston College (31-19 overall before the ACC Tournament, 13-15 ACC), Duke (33-21, 14-15), N.C. State (34-18, 15-13), Wake Forest (32-23, 13-17) and Tech itself (33-20, 13-16) all made it in.
However, all those teams had RPI ratings inside of 40 and four of the five were inside 30. Tech, as noted above, is at No. 48.
Tech could have helped itself greatly with just one win over Georgia (RPI: 3), North Carolina (No. 4) and Clemson (No. 7), but were 0-9 against those three teams. The Jackets did win a home series against Florida State (No. 5), but after that their best series win is against Miami (No. 77).
It’s certainly possible for the Jackets to squeeze in, but there’s not much room for error.
“We all want it,” Hall said. “We work hard for it. It’s here in front of us. Hopefully we’re going to play our best baseball.”